Eat right = Eat thin = Starve

Food is bad for you.

You shouldn’t have too much fat, sugar, salt, carbohydrates, and meat. You should “eat right” they say, before or after the qualification that this is necessarily related to losing weight, gaining health, or both.

“Eating right” means there must exist such a thing as “eating badly.” “Too much,” they say. “You mustn’t eat, drink, etc too much. Everything in moderation.” What they mean, of course, is that you shouldn’t eat too much “bad” food, with “too much” equaling “any.”

“Eat right” means “eat thin.” Everywhere I see “eat right,” it’s followed with flowing praises of vegetables and whole grains, with the qualifications that whole grains needs to be moderated because they can be high in calories. “Also,” they continue. “Make sure to take a daily multivitamin!” —ostensibly implying they’re concerned about our nutritional intake. Why, oh why, would they be concerned, if we were truly “eating right”? Isn’t nutrition what food is for?

Because these days, “eating right” means “eating as few calories as possible without dying.” When WW is touted as a “healthy” plan and promotes recipes which feature Splenda as the main ingredient, you’ve really got to scratch your head and wonder what crackpot nutritionist put the rubber stamp on that one (if any).

Eating for “health” is equated to eating as few calories as possible due to the prevalence of the fallacious stereotype that adipose tissue is some kind of toxic, alien, unbeneficial, unnatural substance that clings to your body like the brain suckers from the original Star Trek (okay, I’m a nerd), except this tissue invades like a virus, permanently corrupting your cells and turning you into a lifetime, diabetes-riddled fatty, regardless of your family history.

The idea that the anyone took this study seriously is evidence that the popular notion of fat tissue as simply ugly has evolved into some diseased, toxic substance (which is still ugly).

To truly eat right, one must have fats, and sugars, and salts. I’ve got chronic low blood pressure (thanks, Gram!) that sometimes requires medication, depending on the season. My cardiologist routinely gets on my butt to make sure I’m eating enough sodium. And, indeed, it makes me feel much better when I have a goodly amount of sodium in my system. Too little and I’m woozy, depressed, and can’t breathe that well.

Though most people have normal and not too-low BP like myself, it can be argued that food — all food — serves a purpose. “Eating right” being equivalent to as severe calorie restriction as is physically possible, depending on the individual, their activity level, their age and gender, and so forth — as long as you take your multi-vite!— is simply promoting lifetime starvation.

Starvation as healthy eating?

Welcome to 2008.

Editing for clarification: this post was meant to stress not that healthy eating is bad, but that when (most!) people talk about healthy eating these days, they’re actually talking about dieting, not about balancing what they eat in order to get the right nutrition from their food (and not solely from a multivitamin since the rest of their diet consists of Splenda and water). Cheers, thanks to hotsauce for pointing out the confusion! 😉

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11 comments on “Eat right = Eat thin = Starve

  1. hotsauce says:

    i agree with you 90%. i don’t like the term “right” because it obviously says that there’s another way that is “wrong.” and thinking that one’s eating is wrong is the bud of many problems for many people.

    still, although i don’t worship food science because it’s reductionist and pretty much a crock of shit much of the time (or rather, most), i do make an effort to eat “healthy” things. (i hesitate to use that word, but you know what i mean. vegetables, whole grains, etc., like you said.) believe it’s totally possible to be a little mindful of nutrition so you don’t get scurvy or whatever (half-kidding there), and also to eat what you want. my only eating rule is that i don’t eat things that i don’t like, and that goes equally for milk (unless it’s with a good cookie), that nasty bitter whitish curly lettuce whose name i don’t know, boiled-to-death vegetables, and creamy salad dressing. i’m iffy on beets and summer squash. so if it’s gross, i don’t do it, even if it’s “good” for me. um, unless it’s my mother in law doing the cooking, then i kind of have to. and believe me, her cooking is nothing *but* gross. you should have seen the horror that was thanksgiving 2004.

    but yeah, i wouldn’t bash “healthy” eating as a whole just because the message many people send with it is all tied up to virtue and thinness.

    as for multi-Vs, i think they’re (mostly) ridiculous. i read a study once that the vast majority of people who take them already eat pretty well-rounded diets and aren’t really lacking in any nutrients. but i confess, i do take one every now and then, but only when i’m feeling anemic (to paraphrase you: thanks Mom!). it really does make me feel better, and i’m a complete skeptic when it comes to vitamins.

  2. BigLiberty says:

    hotsauce,

    I agree completely. I guess I should qualify: what I meant by the post was not that healthy eating was bad, but that when (most!) people talk about healthy eating these days, they’re actually talking about dieting, not about balancing what they eat in order to get the right nutrition from their *food*, not solely from a multivitamin (since the rest of their diet consists of Splenda and water).

    I’ll make an edit in the post to that effect. Thanks for letting me know that I hadn’t been quite clear! And great comment. 🙂

  3. hotsauce says:

    holy crap you’re quick. haha

  4. BigLiberty says:

    Fast as lightin.’ 😉

  5. Sandy says:

    I have always thought that “eating right” just meant (at least to me) eating plenty of fruits and veggies…things your body needs…and just not eating HoHos all day every day for the rest of your life. Never once have I ever thought about low fat or anything. We refuse to buy lowfat anything (yep, we even buy evil whole milk!!! EVALLLLL!!!!).

    My ILs buy low fat/non fat stuff all the time. Drives me insane because the taste is so different or you can only eat one of something to get the benefit of it being low fat. Dammit if I want to eat a whole box of Little Debbie cupcakes…I am gonna eat em! MMMM

    I have always bought and ate food the same way. Never paid attention to fat content…always practiced what I now know is intuitive eating…and for many many many years I was 100% healthy and even thin!! OMG!!! Yes!!! I did eat whole chocolate cakes in a day and still stayed thin without dieting or purging or anything!!! Can you believe it!!! !!! (had to throw those in for good measure). But…the whole chocolate cake thing (or box of cupcakes) was rare…I didn’t do that every day.

    I also ate plenty of veggies and fruits grains and I didn’t actually get fat until I got pregnant the first time. I never lost the 40lbs I gained with him. Had nothing to do with the fact that we drink whole milk, eat whole fat products, even refined flour pasta (another EVAL!). Had to do with growing a baby in my body.

    You do need fruits and veggies…but eating whole fat isn’t going to kill you nor is eating grains of any kind….or whole milk….or a whole chocolate cake…or a whole box of cupcakes… If I sit and eat a 5lb bag of sugar all day I will be unhealthy…not because of the sugar per se…but because I am not eating anything else!!! All things in moderation!

    As for the vitamins…I take them now only because I am pregnant again and I suffer from severe food aversions…so I do need to make up the difference. I did take B complex vitamins to help ward off my depression issues (they help a lot)…but for the most part vitamins are a waste of money. What your body doesn’t need it will just eliminate anyway (ever noticed if you take vitamins your pee gets real neon yellow?) since your body doesn’t break down the pill form the same way it does when it gets them from food…that is assuming you aren’t going insane and overdosing on them…they are kinda useless if you don’t need them.

  6. lillian64 says:

    I like to think of food as fuel. I find most processed food to be tasteless. I like my food to have flavor. I love the taste of fruit, vegetables, whole grains. I eat oatmeal for breakfast because it tastes better than cold cereal flavored with HFCS. I love to cook. I have dal on the range top at this moment. I plan to make tomato onion soup later today if I can find the recipe.

    Eating ‘healthy’ should be about eating food that is good for you, not because it’s lower in fat or sugar. I don’t buy low fat or non-fat anything. I don’t do artificial sweeteners. If I want something sweet, I eat fruit or vegetables. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie (homemade preferred or at least from a good bakery if I’m too lazy to make them myself).

    I don’t take vitamins since I eat healthy diet.

  7. lillian64 says:

    Big Liberty, what study are you using to say that healthy food is low fat or low in calories? I have a number of vegetarian diet books that imply if one eats a healthy vegan or near vegan diet will lose weight and become rather slender. None of these books mention taking a vitamin, outside B12 and only to take that is you are pregnant, nursing, very young or been vegan for 10 or more years. The doctors writing these books believe that the diet that they subscribe is full of nutrients and a SAD needs supplements not a healthy diet.

  8. BigLiberty says:

    Lillian, my post isn’t based off a study or any scientific claim that healthy = low calorie. It’s purely based on the recent implications I’ve gleaned from media sources, advertisements, and so forth. Also from the assumption that fat people eat “unhealthily,” the “healthier” diet prescribed to them by whomever makes those assumptions necessarily containing fewer calories (since “healthy” diets aren’t high in calories, natch).

    I also want to stress again that I don’t think eating veggies and whole grains is unhealthy or wrong. I’m hyperbolizing the “healthy diet” = “low calorie diet” mentality.

  9. violetyoshi says:

    You know about too low blood pressure. The other day, I was worried about going on coasters in Disneyworld, cause I thought between my fat, and my love of anything salty surely I must have high BP. My mom bought a plus-size cuff blood pressure machine, that I used.

    Turns out my BP is actually slighter than normal. I don’t think that means I should say that gives me permission to pour salt over everything, but at least now I can feel secure in not having a health problem when I go on a coaster. Although, I still feel a bit ambivelant that there might be a problem with someone assuming I’m fat therfore unhealthy.

    Although, you might not know this, the Disney company has an excellent reputation for being fat friendly. Their rides can support someone up to 400 pounds. So that’s really awesome!

  10. pudgemonster says:

    I felt like you were making a leap from healthy to super-ultra low calorie. Even fitness magazines, which are usually pointed too as being unrealistic and extremist, recommend at least 2000 calories a day for a woman who is only moderately active. Sometimes I have to squeeze in an extra meal just to reach 1500! I certainly don’t feel like I’m starving myself.

  11. pudgemonster says:

    Whoops. Too=to.

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