One of my favorite pastimes used to be watching the Food Network, watching brilliant chefs cook brilliant dishes. This morning after a long and unwelcome hiatus from lazy Sunday mornings I turned on one of the hundred gazillion cooking shows and sat back, muffin in one hand and latte in the other, to enjoy the show and perhaps jot down a couple pointers for this week’s menu.
I watched as a chef told me how to cut calories from every possible dish, how to cook with hardly any fat at all, and how to recreate just about any food minus most of, well, everything, calories, fat, sugar, you name it, it got cut. I wondered to myself, when did fat free, sugar free, calorie free become the answer?
In a country where obesity is a growing national problem and our children’s health is suffering because of our “unhealthy” diets, why did we turn to cutting as the answer? Fat FREE, Sugar FREE, taste free? While I appreciate the boon in cutting back every now and then, replacing olive oil for butter in some recipes to cut down on saturated fat, enjoying low fat dairy instead of full fat, and eating lots of fruits and veggies instead of constant chocolate in mouth yummy cookies, why, why did we leave the world’s oldest principle in staying healthy: all things in moderation?
Sitting in my office today I heard a woman say that she never ate fat free cheese because it got watery, and it didn’t taste right and I was so happy to hear that, drawing the line where food stopped tasting good. It scared me that I was actually that happy to hear it, a passion for taste, a willingness to make accommodations to enjoy the taste of low fat cheese, oh how far we had dropped from logic.
There are many people all over the world that have to lose a significant amount of weight, for health reasons/medical reasons and have been advised by a doctor to follow specific dietary recommendations. These people are not my target audience here. It actually makes me sad that people do not enjoy food or drink, and are constantly focused on one thing only: calories, or carbs or fat or sugars or whole grains or whatever else one track path to health they have chosen.
Growing up, my dad preached to me the value of all things in moderation, a healthy lifestyle, and relaxation, a triumvirate of values that would do us all some good, but of course, I never listened. Now, I am listening and even though gorging on doughnuts every day might sound good at first I know that will make me feel bad, and it does not sound so hot anymore. Turns out we had it right all along, way before Tab soda, Lean Cuisine, diet pills, protein powders, whole grain mania, sandwich thins, diet programs, and fad diets:
Enjoy all things-in moderation, and you’ll be just fine.