Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Health Idiocy

This article is dominated by fallacious thinking from the opening paragraph.  It implies that some salads are less healthy than fast food because they contain more calories and fat.  This is utter hogwash.  Food health is not determined by the number of calories.  That number is essentially arbitrary, and can be changed at will by altering the serving size.  The important thing to consider is the vitamin-to-calorie ratio.  If a food item is loaded with vegetables and healthy stuff, then it is far better than a pile of empty calories, even if the pile of empty calories has fewer calories.

You can always exercise to burn off extra calories, or eat less and put the leftovers in the fridge.  But if you are not getting the right mix of vitamins, your body will start to fall apart.  Yes, people do need to be aware of how much fat is in their salad.  But it is incredibly irresponsible to imply that salad can even be put in the same category as fast food, because it has a lot of calories.  It is also irresponsible to imply that the foundation of a healthy diet is calorie counting.

I remember an old ad that tried to make PowerBars look bad by saying that they had just as many calories as a doughnut, as if that was some kind of mortal sin.  A PowerBar is nothing like a doughnut, because it has vitamins and protein and all kinds of good stuff.  Besides, it has 'power' in the name for a reason.  The stuff was meant for athletes who are burning a lot of calories and need to restore energy.  They never called it 'HealthBar'.

My personal theory of food, which I have never seen any scientific evidence to support, is that your body's food cravings are based on your need for vitamins and minerals as well as calories.  If you are lacking some kind of nutrition, your body will sense that soemthing is wrong, and it will tell you to eat things in an attempt to get what it needs.  But if all you eat is empty calories, then the need for nutrition will not be satisfied and your body will still want to eat.  So the advice I'd give anyone for a diet is not 'eat less' but 'eat more'.  Eat more good stuff: blueberries, spinach, fresh fruits and veggies, brown rice, beans, oatmeal.  If all the food you consume has a high enough vitamin-to-calorie ratio, you will be able to eat all you want and not get fat.  It works for me.

Avoid any kind of prepackaged food if possible; they always lard it up with junk to make it taste better.  In that respect, the artcle is right.  But if you must eat a pre-packaged food or go to a restaunt, one of those fat-loaded salads is way better than anything else you will be able to choose.

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