Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Food Swaping: Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils

For fun, I picked up Eat This, Not That from a used bookstore recently. It made sense to encourage choosing healthy foods for unhealthy ones, and I wanted to see what kinds of suggestions they offered in this self-professed "no-diet diet."

I was surprised to see the editors steering people not to what's healthy, but what's less unhealthy, based on changing criteria.

Let me give you an example:
Don't eat Lay's Classic Potato Chips. Eat fried pork skins instead.

I kid you not.

The rationale for eating three extra grams of saturated fat and more than triple the sodium? Why waste calories on nutritionally void chips when you can get 16 extra grams of protein for the same amount of calories?

Some of the suggestions were not as jaw-dropping as this, but they weren't much better: one trail mix has "less chocolate," go for the smaller, baked cracker — oh, and try the pastry with less pudding crammed into it.

I understand the philosophy: swapping out "better" food with little effort chips away at bad eating habits. Next thing you know, you're eating fried pork skins and Goldfish every time you stop for snack food at the gas station.  And that's not a bad thing.

While that kind of life change isn't a bad thing, it isn't the best thing.

We live in a land where processed food is cheap and plentiful and requires no thought at all, where every day is a splurge. Swapping a pudding pie for a cake may be a good choice, but it's not the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Maybe if we put more thought into what we put in our mouths, we can eat better and feel better. String cheese may be available at that same convenience store. Sunflower seeds, sugar-free juice, even an apple or banana are available at convenience stores these days.

In a world where our entire lives are splurges, let's choose to splurge less, so our decisions are easier to make.

— Chris

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