i ran across a blog recently that purported to explain why there really is no such thing as "healthy food". the author went on to describe the contradictions and confusion that all of us feel when learning about so many different diets and philosophies about eating today. paleo, south beach, atkins, blood type-based, acidity-based, no-carb, low-carb, fat-free, organic, low-fat, full-fat, vegan, and so on and so forth. i was nodding along for a minute there until she summed it up by basically saying that people should just eat whatever they want - and feed their kids whatever the kids want to eat - because in the end there are no guarantees that eating healthy can actually keep you healthy.
she made a statement in there that basically said that even a twinkie is healthy for a starving person. i tried to shrug it off and understand that she might be confusing "minimally life- sustaining" with "healthy" (you know, like the difference between formula and human milk) and just walk away.
frankly, dealing w/ my own hyperallergic child's current health crisis is taking almost all my free time, so i really had no business looking at a blog that isn't related to my 2 narrow focuses in life right now - learning about safer, non GMO amd cleaner ways to eat and breastfeeding issues. i should really just stick to online materials about those 2 subjects - every time i stray into mainstream info and see what people really think about food, i am astounded. and not in a good way.
but the statement about the twinkies just stuck in my craw. could anyone really EVER think a twinkie was "healthy" ~ under any circumstances? i noticed in the author's bio, that she said she was a "healthy-eating" mother. when i browsed her site a bit more, i found references to "boxed mac and cheese", "drive thru meals" and "cookies". and i remembered the kind of "healthy" feeding i used to do for my 1st children myself. mcdonald's was okay because my kids weren't fat. we went twice a week on gymnastics nights. i knew vaguely that people said it was horrible, but my personal philospohy of "unhealthy food" was if it made you fat. i was uneasily and a bit guiltily willing to accept that french fries were a vegetable and hey - ketchup surely was - it was like, all tomatoes, right?
i watched the comments and replies applauding this open-minded and guilt-assuaging blog article multiply. mothers thanked her for permission to feed their kids what they truly wanted to eat. mothers pointed out that if their children were *such* picky eaters and had so many other issues that ALL they would eat was chicken mcnuggets morning, noon and night - then by god, chicken mcnuggtes are healthy for that child! it went on and on.
i tried to ignore it, reminding myself that there are also blogs where people say that elvis is still alive, too. and that the holocaust never happened. denial can be the best friend of many a harried mother and i lived right on those banks myself until my house tumbled splash into the river and it became a watch -your -family- sink- or -swim situation.
i went on about my schedule but at random times little snippets from the blog article & comments would pop into my head: "yes, i'm a fat woman, but..." "a growth-delayed, sensory-averse child..." "...mother to an underweight, extremely picky eater..." "...the best food for a person stranded on a desert island is hot dogs..." "...not only am i severely underweight...i also have GI issues..." i could go on and on. it's like an actual list of the symptoms of food allergies and intolerances and all the accompanying long-term health issues that result therein, all wrapped up in a justification for continuing to eat fast food, junk food, ramen noodles and mcdonald's!
"whatever's easy with all this stress and illness" are the only comments allowed through the moderation process. trust me, i tried. i know i must be like a dry drunk who thinks everyone that goes near alcohol has to be an alcoholic after all this time with my own food-damaged son, but seriously - reading this article and comments was like watching a drowning person demand a glass of water.
if twinkies are really the answer for starving people, shouldn't the red cross get with it and start shipping them over to 3rd world countries asap? i do concede that they might be ideal in that the expiration date is 'never' and even bugs wouldn't contaminate them. but... seriously?! twinkies for a starving person?? haven't any of these people heard of "supersize me" ?? can you imagine what it would do to a starved, depleted body to consume twinkies? they are hardly more than flavored plastic injected w/ sugar and chemicals! i can't imagine organ failure wouldn't set in within a week or 2 of trying to survive on a diet of twinkies - or hot dogs, for that matter.
and if mcdonald's is "healthy" for a sick, underweight person "who can't/won't eat anything else", then by the same logic, meth would be healthy for all the newborns born meth-addicted, right?
the irony here is that our society *is* starving to death on a diet of limitless twinkies. our bodies are so hungry for true nourishment, that people gorge themselves on whatever tastes good - mistaking overloading your tastebuds with more and more artificial flavor and your body with more and more bad fats, chemicals and genetically modified ingredients with eating something truly nourishing.
as people try harder and harder to sate that hunger, they are growing more and more depleted in vitamins, nutrients & energy while their bodies grow obese trying to store all the excess fat, salt and sugar. and we are only just beginning to get a hint of what the genetically modified ingredients are doing to us!
if people today would only take a few minutes to research what they are actually eating - and what effect it is actually having on their bodies - i have faith that no parent would continue to steadily feed their children the Standard American Diet (SAD). nobody wants to put forth the effort because modern food industries and today's mentality of immediate gratification and convenience assure that people are not likely to take the time to learn about and prepare wholesome, healing and nourishing meals from home. and so the justification and defensiveness about what we eat and feed our kids continues.
i know, i know, i should just stick to the breastfeeding and food allergy blogs out there - trust me, i won't be straying into the scary, Standard American Diet-loving forest of blogs out there again! i have a feeling i'll be seeing some of them again on other food allergy and clean-eating blogs when they finally figure out that their beloved "healthy" fast food is the reason for all their and their children's illnesses, though.
and in the spirit of *not* censoring out the comments that don't agree with a blogger, here's another comment on the article that was not published. the woman who wrote the following also spends her time trying to help people learn how to heal themselves and their children from the ill effects of today's frankenfood.
i may not know exactly which diet philosophy is better than any others - i actually suspect that different body types need different things at different times and no one-size-fits-all way of eating can work for everyone - but i DO know that eating convenient, artificial, chemical-laden and genetically modified foods isn't healthy for ANYONE.
jennifer tow is a good friend, mentor, breastfeeding expert and globally-renowned holistic practitioner on the interweb:
The problem with reading or posting anything on the internet is that you never have the backstory. I tend to ask a zillion questions whenever presented with a situation, which might just be a product of my work as a lactation consultant. So, I have no idea what you eat Arwyn and will not make assumptions. Nor do I need to know, because I can simply address the issue as you presented it.
You say there is no food that brings perfect health. Actually, you can never prove a negative, so I don't know if this is true or not and it doesn't matter. I do know this--that I have worked with tens of thousand of moms and babies over the past 20 years and every single issue that I have ever seen has gotten worse and worse in presentation during that time. Aside from cultural, marketing, economic and social issues that we all know impact birth and infant feeding, the single most significant issue that impacts families is poor nutrition. Or maybe, based upon this post, defense of poor nutrition.
Of course our perception of what is "good" or "bad" will surely have a context. For example, if someone has an allergy to brazil nuts, all the selenium content in the world does not make that a good food for that person. And, if your mother made you finish your least favorite dish as child, after it was cold and everyone else had left the table, I don't care how nutritious it might me, your emotional connection to it might make it toxic to you. After Fukishima, folks in Europe were told not to eat broad leaf greens because they collected too much contaminated rainwater. I get all of that and I agree. Food and its "goodness or badness" have context.
But, it is using these kinds of legitimate points to make such ridiculous rationalizations that really confounds me. And, sure people will get right behind you, because no one wants to do anything that is hard. They would rather believe it doesn't matter. Or at least not very much. I don't care if you are starving--a Twinkie is not healthy--it might sustain you, but it is not ever going to support health. Nor are the vast majority of non-foods people eat every day. As Mark Hyman put it "There is no such thing as junk food. There is food and there is junk."
I spend the majority of my practice helping desperate mothers undo the damage to their babies and children cause by our synthetic/GMO/processed/
We are currently birthing the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents and we are likely the most over-fed, under-nourished people to have every walked the Earth. And we have the wounds and scars to prove it. But, we would rather hide out and defend our addictions, even while those addictions make us sick physically and emotionally, while they fry our children's nervous systems and lead us to medicate them.
You can look at the battles that rage between the Paleo, vegan, raw food, etc camps as more support for your argument, but what I look at are the similarities, because I have no financial interest in any of them. The commonalities are real food. No room for fake food. None. Zero. Some might sprout grains and others say no grains. Some say raw dairy, others none. In the end, it depends on how much gut healing you need to do as to which works best for you, but they all use food that is not GMO or factory-farmed or packaged or processed to death (ours). Look at the similarities and you really can't go wrong. Once you start to feel your own body's true signals again, you can tweak it from there.
What absolutely works for no one though is the crap that the majority of Americans are addicted to, feed their kids and justify through absurd rationalizations, as you have in this post and others have in their comments. If your child only eats mac and cheese or chicken nuggets, then you have two options--rationalize that as good enough or bite the bullet, face your own addictions and get your child and yourself on a gut healing diet, so all of that pickiness disappears with the toxic gut flora and yeast that the fake food is feeding.
Do you have to be a perfectionist? I don't know. Do you want this planet to survive? When we make a mess this big, as we have, then yes, I think we need to be as impeccable as we can to fix it. Do we have to obsess about food. No, we just need to pay attention, become educated and leave the world of non-food behind. Of course, for most people, that's most of what they eat. So, maybe it feels obsessive.
I would say I don't really care what other people feed their kids, and frankly, I don't have much time to think about it if they aren't my clients, but we have come to a point where this human village is at too much risk--frankly, I do not trust sick people to govern this world. And that is where we are rapidly headed.