Questionable Cuisine

We are hardwired to be attracted to the taste of fat, salt and sugar in order to help us survive. Fat gave our ancestors the caloric reserves to sustain themselves through lean times. Salt helped them prevent dehydration by retaining water and sugar helped them to be able to make the distinction between sweet, edible berries from dangerous sour, poisonous ones.

There are whole foods—integral foods if you will, for example, apples—in which what you see is what you get—and then there are foods that consist of a mélange of ingredients mixed together and prepared. I propose that if we could see the precise ingredients that go into making many recipes—particularly processed packaged foods—we would be somewhat more reluctant to eat them. The final product simply hides all the component ingredients. When it comes to hot dogs and similar type foods, I would be so bold as to state that were it possible to see the component ingredients laid out in front of us, our relationship with this kind of food would be brought to an abrupt halt!

The following words are on specific foods that many of us enjoy-crave-love, but must go under the heading “questionable cuisine.” Hot dogs sure do taste great on a nice, soft bun with mustard slathered all over, but in my opinion, they are just not worth it. They go down easy, but they are a bitter pill to swallow! Why? Simply because they are nothing other than undesirable fatty animal parts ground into a homogeneous composite and stuffed into a synthetic casing, drowned in preservatives—toxic waste in a tube, if you will. The same may be said of many other cured luncheon-type meats—salami, bologna, pepperoni and other “mystery” meats. I always wonder about anything that is ground up and reconstituted—clearly, if someone is grinding up bits and pieces and then putting them back together into one combined unit, that someone is likely trying to hide the presence of some very undesirable components! What is it exactly they are hiding in there? If truth be told, I don’t really care to find out! I am happy to say that I gave up all “mystery” meats over a decade ago and haven’t missed them a bit.

Doughnuts are nutrient-empty, fat-laden, fried, doughy sugar balls—the only healthy part of which is the air hole in the center—in other words, no doughnut at all! I must confess to recently having had a beignet at Café du Monde in New Orleans, but it was a very special occasion, and otherwise I have been “clean” for about five years.

Fast foods, with occasional exception, are the quintessential unhealthy dietary development of modern times. To me, they can be thought of as greasy, fat-laden, calorie-dense, low-fiber, over-salted, queasy-engendering, bad aftertaste-in-your-mouth junk. On occasion, fast food is unavoidable, so if we have no other options (such as when we are traveling), we can opt for the salads or the broiled, not fried, meal alternatives. That being said, fast food chains of recent have been making a real effort to serve healthier and reduced-calorie alternatives, and this concept seems to be gaining traction. Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, among other fast food franchises, have made claims that they offer sandwiches that are low in calories and fat. It is noteworthy that they are all loaded with sodium—far in excess of what would be considered healthy—and an additional caveat is that if high-fat condiments are used, they will mitigate the lower fat and calorie benefits.

We are now drinking more calories than ever before in the form of sweetened drinks—sodas, teas, punches, etc. The problem is that these empty calories are the equivalent of liquid candy and do not provide satiety, but do supply us with a large bolus of rapidly absorbed, pre-digested calories that clearly has contributed to the obesity epidemic. The lion’s share of the sweetener used in these products is high fructose corn syrup, obviously an unhealthy choice, although sugar in the quantities used to sweeten these products is no less unhealthy.

This is just a taste of what you will find in Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food. The website for the book is: It provides information on the book, a trailer, excerpts, ordering instructions, as well as links to a wealth of excellent resources on healthy living. It is also available on Amazon Kindle.  Happy July 4th holiday…eat well, be well, live well!

3 Responses to “Questionable Cuisine”

  1. NAS Says:

    I have to point out that deli meats made from animals fed their natural diet are quite healthy. Many of the nutrients and healthy fats are in all the animal parts that we can eat. Muscle tissue actually has less nutrition than other parts of the animal.

    It’s not enought just to see the “ingredients” that are put into products, one also needs to see how those “ingredients” — the plants or animals — are raised and harvested. One needs to know the agricultural and husbandry practices, in order to make real choices about healthy eating.

    • Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

      All points excellent and noted!

      • Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

        I never meant to imply that every woman delivering vaginally will have pelvic floor issues, simply that childbirth can inflict anatomical changes to the pelvic floor muscles and other supportive connective tissues that are often the initiating factors in prolapse, incontinence, etc., that may not manifest until years later when other promoting factors kick in. My wife, like yourself, has had two vaginal deliveries and also does not have pelvic issues. I am not advocating C-sections, but clearly under the circumstances of avoiding labor and vaginal delivery, there is much more vaginal/pelvic preservation than with vaginal delivery. The whole issue is complex, because even women who have not been pregnant can have pelvic floor dysfunction, although there are often risk factors such as poor tissue integrity or chronic increases in intra-abdominal pressure. Interesting facts are that in regions of the world where there are significant concerns about body image, such as affluent regions of South America, the C-section rate is astonishingly high. Furthermore, the elective C-section rate of female urologists and gynecologists is quite high.

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