July 11, 2013

A Parable of Nutriton

A cornucopia of all sorts of food.
What thanksgiving feasts probably should consist of.

Once upon a time there was a young girl who wanted to be healthy. She knew that the first step towards a healthy life was a healthy diet so she went to her local food guru and asked what to do. The guru listened to her diet, which was typical of a college student, and told her "Eat more fruits and vegetables." So, she stocked up on apples and lettuce and bananas and all was good.

A little while later, she went back to the food guru and said "Alright, I am eating fruits and vegetables with every meal. Will I be healthy?" The food guru shook his head. "No, my child." he said. "For you are eating foods sprayed with deadly chemicals. You must eat organic foods to be safe." So the girl threw out the typical food and stocked up on organic fruits and vegetables. For added measure, she began only eating organic bread, cookies, icecream and snacks too.

Having eaten more plants than a rabbit, she returned to the food guru and said: "Alright, my house is totally organic. I buy organic dishwasher, organic salsa, organic cookies- everything is 100% organic. Will I be healthy?" The food guru shook his head. "No my child," he said, "Even though those food are organic, they are still processed and full of chemicals and other contaminants from factories.  Eat close to the food source. As raw and natural as possible." So she went back and threw out all her peanut butter, processed foods, frozen organic pizza's and bought natural.

After eating like this, she went back to the food guru and said "I'm eating organic, natural ingredients. I cook with only whole foods. I make my own pizza and cookies from only the most natural of products. Will I be healthy?" The food guru shook his head. "Not yet, my child." he said. "For you are eating foods that were grown in far off fields on factory farms- organic or not. The shipping pollutes the air and destroys the nutrient value of the food. No, you must eat local food grown in the surrounding area." So the girl looked up farmers markets, local farms and began buying as close to her home as possible. She was lucky she lived in an area that had such access to farms all around.

After restocking her house, she went back to the food guru and said "I am friends with my local farmers, I know the name of the turkey I will eat for thanks giving, I am a regular member of the farmers market. I'm learning to eat in the seasons. Will I be healthy now?" But the food guru shook his head. "Not yet, my child." He said. "Food today is far less nutritious than food was fifty years ago. The soil is depleted. Even local organic food doesn't offer the same nutritional value as it should for the stressful life you lead. You must take supplements." And so the girl went home, researched vitamins and supplements and developed a complicated but thorough plan to stay healthy.

After taking 11 different pills and supplements that morning, the girl marched back to the food guru and proclaimed. "I eat fruits and vegetables from local, organic farms. I make all my food myself. I have a complicated number of pills and tablets to take each week." She brandished the schedule she made for herself. "Most of my time is spent either buying, preparing or cooking food. Am I healthy yet?" The food guru leaned forward, looked over her schedule and menu plan, and then shook his head.

"What!" exclaimed the girl. "What else could their possibly be?"

"Your diet is too regular," said the food guru. "Food insensitivity springs from too much of the same food. You must vary your ingredient intake or risk developing an insensitivity."

"Ok," said the girl. "But if I do that, will I be healthy?" The food guru shook his head.

"Oh no. Because you are also eating too regularity.  You must have time to fast and let your body purge itself of accumulated toxins and build up. And after that you must start considering food that is good for your blood type, that is not too acidic, that has the right thermal temperatures. You must investigate whether it is a paleo diet or a vegan one that is best for you. You must keep up to date on the new algeas and seaweeds that will prevent cancer. You must be soaking your grain before eating it. You should be milling your flour, growing your own food, foraging for your own food in the wilderness-"

But as the list of eating requirements grew, disgust and despair filled the girl's heart. She had done so much and it was all for naught. Shaking her head, she left the food guru's sanctuary, went to a fast food chain and ordered one of everything on the menu.

Moral of the story:

There will ALWAYS be something more to do to improve your diet. You will never reach the most perfect, healthiest diet no matter how many books you read, seminars you attend, and nutritionists you visit. There is just too much we don't understand about the digestive system and too much conflicting and directly contradicting data in the world.

But just because perfection is unobtainable, does not mean we should give up like the girl and regress back to fast food. Each step we take along the path to perfect eating does help, does improve our lives and health, does help the planet a small bit even if we acknowledge it is not the panacea.

What do you eat to be healthy?


  1. HA!! This is so true! It's my daily nightmare! This is what I ate today, thus far:
    1 hardboiled egg

    1 salad (2-3 cups?) consisting of a spring mix of lettuces (organic), diced cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, and two slices of shredded Angus roast beef on the top (gluten-free, but not grass-fed).

    1 Zevia cherry-cola (sweetened only with stevia. No calories, carbs, or artificial sugars. It's not delicious.

    1 beer, a Pilsner, craft brew

    Dinner??? Going out to eat, so not sure yet...

    As you can see, I like to undermine my healthiness with a nice cold glutinous beer. And yes, I have a death-wish :)

    1. I don't know. I've eaten a lot worse some days!

      And don't stress too much about the beer. According to Chinese Nutritional Theory, beer is warming (good for counteracting the cold of the salad) and for breaking up stagnation. There are worse things you could be drinking!