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Everything I learned about food is false.

My co-madre told me that she has given up and is just eating junk food. Argh! I have no idea if she was just yanking my chain, if so she gave it a hard pull! I understand sometimes I feel like everything I learned about food is false.  Have you read Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger? It’s the book that I wish I had written. She takes the next step and fleshes out the sordid story of food and politics that Gary Taubes introduced to me in Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

I’ve been researching diets and food for quite awhile. Honestly, I was shocked when I realized how much wheat, soy, and corn was sneaking into my diet. Did you know that modified food starch is wheat? That most lecithin is made from soy? You have to be hiding in a cave to have missed the news about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). The more I learned, the more confused I got, then the angrier I got. Fortunately, I recently discovered Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats a really long title for a great book. Combined with the information Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, I’ve adjusted our eating to what I consider a more traditional diet, not exactly paleo or even primal but also based on real foods.

Do you remember when we all changed to corn oil? Then Canola oil? Switched from lard to hydrogenated vegetable oil? All those things that I did trying to be healthy, I think are one of the reasons I got cancer. There are studies that show that women who consume more fat are more prone to breast cancer. Those studies don’t differentiate the types of fats, but I bet if they did the results would be that they consume  that fat in the form of vegetable and seed oils. No wonder I feel like every I learned about food is false.

Then there is soy. I have eaten quite a bit of soy. When I was vegetarian, I saw soy as a way to cook meat dishes without meat. TVP had no bigger fan than me. It did bother me a bit when I found out it was a by product from making animal feed. Turns out that unless soy is fermented it’s chock full of phytates which bind to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, manganese and, to a lesser extent calcium, and slow their absorption. Fermentation and soaking help to reduce phytates which is why legumes, seeds, and nuts are traditionally prepared using these techniques.

There are several blogs that I follow, one of them is Empowered Sustenance, today, Lauren’s post “10 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be A Vegan” is full of food for thought. I found myself nodding along as I read.  I wonder how much damage I did to my body when I was vegetarian and when I was eating healthy? I never could be vegan, I tried but it wasn’t for me.

The more I read, the more I find myself distrustful of the government and their nutritional advice. Not every blog I read is about low carb diets, I also follow obesity researcher, Stephen Guyenet, his blog is worth checking out. Here is a talk he did explaining Leptin resistence. 

Do you feel like I do? That everything you have learned about food and eating is false? Or have you given up like my co-madre and are eating and drinking and being merry and resigned to dying? We all die, but I want to live a long, healthy, and productive life and I wish the same to you.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!

8 comments

  1. Hola Theresa,

    First off, I’d completely ignore the USDA about what constitutes a healthy diet. The “food pyramid” is as much a product of politics as it is of science. Let’s not forget that the USDA is the arm of the US government that actually pays to subsidize such health-enhancing things as high fructose corn syrup. In fact, it seems like everything that’s bad for you (meat, dairy, corn) is subsidized by the government, while fruits and vegetables are left to the free market. Completely upside down, in my view.

    As for margarine, I’ve personally ALWAYS avoided it in favor of real butter (which I eat in large quantities, unapologetically). And I felt a certain feeling of triumph when they discovered a few years ago that it was actually better for you than margarine anyway, due to the trans fats.

    Anyway, you might want to check out “Sugar, The Bitter Truth,” a graduate school lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, head of endocrinology at UCSF. It’s available on youtube, and about an hour in length. Before I saw that video, I had no idea exactly HOW harmful sugar and HFCS was for me. Since I saw the video, I’ve dramatically cut my sugar intake and am now thinner and healthier for it.

    And though I know you don’t have a weight problem, I’d still recommend reading “Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, ” by Dr Joel Fuhrman. This book details a whole new way to look at food (calories per nutrient vs calories per gram) that makes you realize that something like steak is rather low nutrient compared to something like broccoli. And it also points out the dangers of carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and starchy vegetables. Even if you don’t do his recommended diet (I didn’t), you’ll learn a lot of interesting nutritional information. I found the book quite fascinating.

    And of course Michael Pollen of the NY Times has a lot of good things to say.

    It’s sad that we in the USA are so completely off-track about what to eat. We’ve got an epidemic of diseases (heart/artery disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc) that are a direct consequence of our crappy national diet. Not only does this diet rob people of vitality, but the diseases it causes are extremely expensive to treat.

    I hope you are doing well.

    Saludos y abrazos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are starting to eat fall vegetables.

    • Hi Kim,
      We are totally on the same page. “Death by Food Pyramid” really goes into depth regarding the USDA and real mission and how it got involved in the food pyramid scheme. I will add your recommendations to my reading list.

      We gave up sugar a couple of years ago, it was much harder for Husband than me since he has a sweet tooth but now things that I used to love are often too sweet for me. Dark Chocolate that is 70% cocoa is a touch sweet but 85% is a little too dark. LOL…not the worst dilemma in the world.

      I think that Michael Pollen is such a great writer, I would read his stuff even if I didn’t agree with him. The “Omnivore’s Dilemma” is such a well written book with lots of information regarding where our food comes from.

      I also felt very vindicated when my steadfast loyalty to real butter instead of margarine was proven to be right. Dr Weston Price isolated a substance in butter which may be vitamin K2 that makes a tremendous impact on health and well being. Husband shakes his head at the quantity of butter we consume, but says,”I have never felt better”. Butter and cod liver oil are the mainstay of our vitamin regime.

      You are very kind, I am still overweight, though to be honest when I weighed 165 I would have been thrilled to be down to 130. Now that I weight 130, I would like to be 115, though 108 is my ideal weight. Remember I am only 5’2″ tall and have a very small frame. I actually put on weight during chemo because of the cortisone I had to take too. As for Dr Fuhrman, his diet sounds like the plan we’re on, I’ll check him out. I figure the more information I have the better I can evaluate my options.

      regards,
      Theresa

      • Long live butter!!!

        By the way, is there good butter to be had in Mexico? Because if there is, it has been carefully hidden from me.

        Saludos

        • Kim,
          I could do a whole post and my butter search. Maybe that will be my next post. You can buy imported Danish butter, you can get Costco butter too. At the Chedraui Selecto (the “better” Chedraui) they also have imported Challenge brand butter!

          The big problem with Mexican butter is the slightly plasticy mouth feel. I once stood at the refrigerated section of Mega and read every butter label. What some of the national butters have in addition to cream (and annatto as coloring) is an ingredient called “suero” which translates to serum but I think may be whey.

          Our favorite Mexican butter is Aquas Caliente brand, it used to only come in tubes like rolls of sausage, but recently I saw it in 190 gram cubes. Unfortunately, the only supermarket that seems to carry it is Comercial Mexicana (we have one regular Comer and one Mega).

          For awhile I was buying Chedraui Selecto butter because we can walk to Chedraui. Somewhere along the line the started adding salt to the “sin sal”. Says right on the list of ingredients. I looked at every size of the unsalted butters and they have salt as an ingredient. I realized this when I had melted down a kilo block to make ghee and tasted it. I looked at the package to make sure that I had bought unsalted and read the ingredients. Como Mexico no hay dos.

          Tom and Debi had a butter taste off and they feel that Alpurna is the best Mexican butter. I have it in 2nd place.

          Yes, we take our butter seriously. I have tried both styles of Gloria butter, Lala butter, and I don’t remember what other kinds. The Extra just started carrying Lala butter (and refrigerated milk!) they only carry one size and one brand.

          regards,
          Theresa

          • Wow, Theresa!

            Thanks so much! Who knew butter was so complicated SOB? When shopping for butter with Edgar, I asked which was the best brand and he pointed out something which I don’t remember the name of. When we got home I realized I had basically bought a stick of (slightly) flavored crisco. Yuck!

            Even in restaurants the butter seems pretty low-quality in general. Here in Boston I used to buy President butter, from France until Trader Joe’s stopped carrying it. In my opinion, it’s one of the best butters in the world. But Kerrygold, an Irish butter is still available and pretty good too.

            And as with everything else, once you’ve grown accustomed to the good stuff, it’s hard to go back to the mediocre.

            Thanks for the butter info, though. I’m definitely going to refer back to this post in the future.

            Saludos,

            Kim G
            Boston, MA
            Where we are astonished by salted “unsalted butter.” Who’d a thunk?

          • Kim,
            You inspired me to write a post about butter! Thanks!
            regards,
            Theresa

  2. Once you’ve put in 50 years on the planet, you’re entitled to eat whatever pleases you, just as long as the portions are moderate.

    • Jennifer Rose,
      I agree with eating in moderation. I want to eat foods that taste good and are good for me. I never bought into the lowfat craze, the food was awful which in retrospect worked out for me. I never liked margarine either. However, when I was eating granola for breakfast, whole wheat bagels for snacks etc I would get such bad carb crashes, now that I have bacon and eggs or an omelet for breakfast, I’m not starving again at 10am. I feel better not following the food pyramid.

      When we were growing up, breakfast was eggs or oatmeal (both of which I didn’t want to eat) and a tiny tumbler of juice, on weekends it was pancakes and bacon. Lunch at school was usually a sandwich, an apple, and one cookie with whole milk, unless we had hot lunch. Snack was fruit or a cookie and more milk, if the boys were really hungry they had a sandwich. Dinner was rice (always rice even if we had potatoes), a green salad, meat, and at least one vegetable. We drank either milk or water. The dressing was olive oil and vinegar. No one was fat, no one was deprived. Occassionally we got popcorn to eat while watching a movie on tv which had real butter on it.

      Us kids thought that we were deprived. My mom never bought soda unless we were sick, then we got flat 7-up or ginger ale. No matter how we begged Kool-aide never appeared on our table, she called it food coloring mixed with sugar. We occasionally got a cookie or two. Cakes on special occasions and the same for pie.

      Now I really appreciate my Mom’s idea of what to serve the family for dinner.

      regards,
      Theresa

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