Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Side Effects

There's an epidemic across the world. It's called obesity and it's to blame for everything from diabetes to heart disease. As always when there's an abrupt change, scientists and researchers are rushing to find the cause.

When I was a kid, fat people were fat because they ate too much. Size sixteen was healthy. And chemicals in mass-produced foods were not even a glimmer in most minds.

Cigarettes were being touted and healthy and glamorous. Cute commercials lauded the wonders of tobacco.

And then people started dying of lung cancer. A couple generations of people died before someone started shouting about the dangers of tobacco and smoking.

Over and over the same scenario is repeated. As humans, we can't seem to get our acts together. We still trust doctors, pharmaceutical companies, big food industry, and all the other people out there producing products for our consumption.

The newest revelation is diet soda/drinks make you fat. Back when I was a young married woman with four small kids, I consumed a ton of TAB. That was the premier diet soda at the time. Then all sorts of information came out about the dangers of caffeine so I switched to a caffeine free, sugar free, sodium free soda. In effect, is was colored water. But wait!

Now it turns out that the sweetener used makes our body's insulin not work right. Great...

I have diabetes. So far I'm on my third medication because of side effects. And you guessed it--last week an alert was issued regarding the side effects for my third medication. Seems it causes heart attacks in older patients. Unfortunately, they didn't define "older" in the alert.

Even foods we buy and cook ourselves at home contain chemicals. There is considerable speculation about the effects of hormones in our meat and the cause/effect on our young girls who are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. Maybe that hormone filled milk we've been pushing has something to do with our little girls menstruating at age ten instead of thirteen.

I wonder if there's anything out there that's safe to consume. Or in our rush to make things better/more convenient, are we hastening the end of our days?



  1. My family makes an effort to buy as many items organic as possible, especially meat and dairy products. Porous vegetables, or fruit we eat the skin of we also buy organic, and we make a lot of our meals from scratch.

    The idea that organic products cost an arm and a leg, I find, has a lot to do with organic "junk food," like organic pop-tarts, granola bars, packaged foods etc--which aren't a good idea to eat a whole lot of anyway, whether it's organic or not.

    And when it does cost a bit more for a loaf of whole wheat bread, I'd just like to remind people that they get what they pay for. Wonderbread is definitely worth the 69 cents it costs.

  2. I just finished two books: Food Rules by Michael Pollan, and The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Both are readable and very easy to understand (espcially Pollan!)

    I am not obese, I'm modestly overweight and I don't have diabetes. I don't want to 'get' diabetes (as my father and grandmother did). I want to try to live as healthy as possible.

    Hence my re-thinking what I put in my body. Over the last year I've cut out as much processed food as I can. I'm using butter instead of margarine, sugar not Splenda, sea salt not processed salt, and so on. We'll join a co-op once we get moved and buy in bulk (actually we'll buy tiny amounts that we can replenish often so I'm sure of freshness).

    We already shop at Farmer Markets and buy organic when we can, and we're moving to an area where there are several organic options available to us. Plus we'll probably buy meat directly from a farmer and have it stored for us at a locker, although the local grocery is almost as good -- no pre-packaged red meat or chicken, all fresh from local growers. Fish, of course, is problematic in the middle of the country. I'll have to compromise on that.

    I'm trying to control everything I can in my food since I don't trust corporations and what they say. If I can eat simply but well, I'm hoping to stave off 'complications' which appear to be inevitable any more. I don't expect it to take much more of my time once I get it organized and get some favorite recipes down pat.

    As Pollan says: eat as much junk food as you want -- as long as you cook it yourself 8)

  3. Yeah, diet sodas are among the worst things a person can consume. It is safe to consume whole foods though. :)

  4. Everything will either kill you orcure you so worry I say? Do the best you can and keep moving

  5. I have a hard time reconciling my personal experiences to those who say eating organic/healthier isn't more expensive. My son has been on organic milk from the time started drinking milk. We also have switched to cage free or free range eggs. While I love being able to shop at Whole Foods of Harry's, the reality is that when it comes to meats, the cost is much much more.

  6. I suspect the cost of organic depends on what part of the country you live in...

  7. When it comes to food processing, does anyone think things through? All of these things are extremely scary - so scary I had a nightmare about eating McDonald's. (Pathetic, right?) It did not end well.

  8. I always get a kick out of the 'diet drinks make you fat' articles. I've been drinking Diet Pepsi for 30 years. Hmm, I have gained a couple of pounds. Maybe it just took that long to catch up:)