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I just read about the demise of Barbara Holland, the author of, among other tomes, ‘The Joy Of Drinking”.  There are contrarians whose stance I  might disagree with,  even while I salute their attitude:

“I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym,” she said in an interview in the Washington Post in 2007. “I’m not really in favor of health and fitness.”

Once I might have found that charming. But today, with fully 70% of our populace either overweight or suffering from obesity, the cute factor fails us. So I’m left holding my bottle of water, my supplements and my righteous indignation over the Monsantos of the world, the faceless corporations systematically killing our air, our water and our food without even giving us a choice over our poisons. It’s the ‘no choice’ part of the equation that rankles me.

If I knew the air was clean, our food safe from hormones and pesticides—the typical apple contains 45 different pesticides—I might be more relaxed with my eating habits.  Today, it seems prudent to talk about measured risk. And our old friend, Denial, no longer works; it’s time we made real choices: we can continue our march to join the somnambulant vegetables lining our nursing homes. I choose to counter the effects of the damn poisons.

Go on a low fat diet, we have all been told. Except that’s never worked. We’ve been doing low-fat diets since the early to mid seventies. Oddly, that’s precisely the time frame since our weight exploded. Fat is not the issue. As others have said, we as a nation are over-caloried and undernourished.   In my New York clinic I am seeing more and more people who are starving themselves and still gaining weight. The sense of desperation is palpable, and I get it.  What’s required is for people to get a bead on weight/food issues through education. We need to read, talk and take action. That means exercise, of course, and does not preclude other modalities, including acupuncture, hypnosis and nutritional guidance.

How else can we combat this march toward planned obsolescence of the human body?  Lay off mineral oils; let’s start weaning ourselves off sugar and white flour (pasta, bread, cake, any food that has sugar, corn oil, and white, bleached flour that has had the nutrients bleached from it). Sure it’s difficult; all valuable change is. And doing these things will add qualitative years to your life.

In the meantime,  RIP Bless Barbara Holland; she sounds like someone whom I would have liked for her feistiness, her love of life and ability to so elegantly write about it. I also might have told her that, given our current reality, she could have been wrong about some things.

Of course, she probably would have laughed out loud, plucked a small green olive from her Martini and then slowly, even mischievously, swallowed it with a lifetime’s worth of gusto.

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One Response to "Eating Defensively, Or, In Praise Of Curmudgeons"

  • cdb
    September 20, 2010 - 1:24 am

    Alas, the days of truly eating & drinking with gusto are far, far behind most of us since gusto implies enjoyment and what is put in food nowadays and how completely processed most of it has become, is certainly enough to kill anything remotely resembling enjoyment.

    Raw chickens soaking in old bleach baths – meat from livestock dragged dying to slaughter, Hens laying eggs in filthy cages and inhumane conditions. Then, on top of it the chemicals- the fake sugars that shut down normal feelings of satiety? What’s to enjoy. Mineral oils? In food too?

    Makes me think home economics classes should be brought back, (severely updated of course!) and required.
    Teaching kids about where their food comes from, and how to choose, (or grow) & prepare it. Not as a chore, but as a thing of joy,love, companionship & camaraderie.