If you showed up today expecting recipe number two from Italian Week, I apologize. It was supposed to be pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup), but I totally botched it! Remember how I said I used to be known for one kitchen disaster with every meal? Last night’s disaster was forgetting that pasta e fagioli is supposed to have tomato in it. And forgetting that soup in general usually needs an acid in order to not suck! It actually didn’t suck, but without the tomato to brighten it up, the pictures looked really drab. So it’s not front-page blog material, at least not until I’m really hurting for content.
Ignore Nutrition Facts, Read the Ingredients List
What I want to write about instead is nutrition facts. And the lack thereof on my blog. I read a Twitter post yesterday by someone complaining about health sites that don’t post nutrition facts. It would be naive for me to believe that my blog prompted this complaint, but my first thought upon reading this was I need to start doing that in order to make sure every last reader is satisfied.
But something about that felt wrong. I write this blog to share the way I eat and exercise, because eating delicious food and staying healthy is one aspect of life that I think I’m great at. And I’m not too modest to say that. I’m not a raw-food vegan, and I’m certainly not the fastest marathoner. But I think my version of a healthy, active life filled with delicious food is one that regular folks can adopt as their lifestyle, not just a diet.
I almost never look at nutrition facts. If we were meant to read nutrition facts, then whoever created this world would have put nutrition labels on food. And in a way, he/she/it kind of did, only not in the form of a list of numbers. If a food is ripe and good for us, then it usually looks fresh, vibrant, appealing, and real. That’s the only nutrition fact you need. Obviously there are exceptions, but you get the idea. Eat real foods, eat colorful foods, eat local foods, eat a variety of foods, the way you are meant to and the way people did for thousands of years until this hip new thing called technology came along and screwed it up.
Eating isn’t supposed to require math. If every time you eat, you have to add up a bunch of numbers and worry about how many of your allotted calories you’re using up, then you’re doing it all wrong. You’re supposed to enjoy eating. I’m not one of the “thoughts are things” New-Agers, but I do believe that if you feel guilty everytime you eat, then you’re sending the your body the wrong message. Food tastes good to us because calories are fuel. Fat tastes especially good because it’s nourishing and used to be scarce. When you avoid fats and calories, you send your metabolic system the message that it’s a time of famine, and your body responds by storing away whatever it can find, usually in the form of that nice Goodyear inner-tube around your midsection.
Here’s how to decide what to eat. Check the list of ingredients in a food. Best case: one. An apple contains… surprise, apple! Certainly we have to combine lots of foods when we cook, but the difference between cooking and buying prepared foods is that we’re the ones doing the combining. We don’t add preservatives for shelf life, and we don’t add cheap fake flavors to turn a bigger profit. If you need to buy something prepared, just make sure it doesn’t have many ingredients, and make sure you can pronounce all of them. As you can tell, this method requires a lot of very complex calculations, but we are very lucky to be living in an age of technology so we can carry them out to a high degree of accuracy.
So that’s why I don’t care about nutrition labels. If you find yourself using a certain ingredient a lot, then sure, check the nutrition label to make sure there aren’t any shockers. But most of the time, screw that. The caveat is this: eating the way we are meant to requires living the way we are meant to. Specifically, doing things. We used to have to hunt for food or spend hours in the fields to grow food. Everyone knows we aren’t designed to sit at a computer all day writing a blog article about nutrition facts that’s growing longer than we planned. So you have to move around if you don’t want to get fat. It’s very complicated, this nature thing, but you’ll get the hang of it.
I look forward to your comments about this philosophy. I have a feeling this post might earn me my first haters! All I can say is that I didn’t invent it. Actually it’s old; in fact I think the 1.2 million year anniversary of its invention is coming up next month.
A final warning: If you’re already way overweight, then my advice might not be right for you yet. You probably need a big calorie reduction and exercise, all done safely of course. Once that’s taken care of, then you can start ignoring nutrition labels. If you stay active.