On the advice of other, much smarter friends, I bought In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan. This book is not one I would normally buy, as its severely lacking in romantic embraces, dying children and crushed marriages that seem to overpower some of the crap I normally read, but it is about my favorite subject: food!
The beginning of the book is very scientific, way too scientific for a 7:36 am train ride. I have to admit that I skimmed over a lot of the junk about nutrition, just as I would have done in college. And I graduated, so it worked then!
Pollan defines “orthorexics” in his intro: people with an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. I read that and thought: this is what I’m becoming. Now, those of you who saw me scarf down fried calamari twice this week might disagree with that. In truth, I’m not obsessed enough with healthy eating to actually do it all the time, but I think about food constantly. I plan meals, I read labels, I count servings and calories, and I’m always planning my next meal. Its borderline obsessive. The ultimate goal is to eat healthy, but sometimes a fryalator stands in my way. I’m a fat kid at heart.
Pollan’s manifesto breaks down into three key points: Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants. Sounds simple enough, right? Not really. “Food” should be anything your great grandmother would recognize, with an ingredient list of less than 5 ingredients, all of which you should be able to pronounce. No high-fructose corn syrup (which is in a lot of food. A real lot of food). You need to think about what your meat ate before you eat it. And what’s in the soil where your carrots grow. You should try eating until you’re 80% full.
All good, in theory. But how long does it take someone to grocery shop with conditions like that? Oh wait, you shouldn’t shop at the grocery store, but focus on Farmer’s Markets (which is a great idea, if I could find one on the weekends near my house). And what will your food bill become? Even buying produce in season & on sale is more expensive than a few boxes of mac & cheese and a can of corn.
Now, I haven’t finished the book, but how do you do all that without becoming obsessed with food? I hope I find out. I’ve been trying to eat healthier, in general. I’ve almost given up faux sugars, sans the occasional Diet Coke or WW ice cream bar. I really try to think about if what I am eating has nutritional value, and try not to eat it if it doesn’t. And this consumes me at times. I have to be 100% on my game, and “good” to lose weight. One trip to the food court where I wait for my train, and the scale is thrown against the wall in disgust. Put me in a restuarnt with a martini, and I can kiss the week goodbye. Lack of willpower seems to be a common problem in my life.
The bottom line: Its really much easier to be fat.