by NATALIA JASTRZAB
Help me out here. Because I am really bloody confused about what I am supposed to be eating.
Imagine if an alien landed on my doorstep tomorrow morning and asked me how to eat healthily on Planet Earth. I would have no idea what to tell that poor alien.
You see, all the old – simple – rules about food are gone. Done. Dusted. The food pyramid has been thrown out in the rubbish along with the stale milk and five-day-old Thai takeaway. It’s been replaced with myriad ideas about various kinds of food, many of which seem to contradict each other, and none of which can be agreed upon by everyone.
Apparently green vegetables are good for you but there’s no actual nutritional value in lettuce, so leave that out. Pasta used to be great and then became a giant no-go but now it’s okay as long as it’s the brown pasta, not the white stuff (and you can also have that new lean-pasta which is made of something very mysterious but is incidentally the only kind of processed food which is good for you). Sushi is fine but only on Tuesdays and if you stand on one leg chanting “SASHIMI. SASHIMI. SASHIMI” while eating it.
Are you exhausted? Yes. Me too. The above is probably all wrong by now anyway. In the last five minutes, someone has presumably invented a lettuce-pasta that is the healthiest thing you will ever eat, ever, and the eternal solution to all your problems. Thank you, lettuce-pasta.
Remember diets? Diets used to be simple. They were ridiculous, but awesomely simple. Like the baby food diet, which Jennifer Aniston was supposedly a fan of. Guess what you eat on the baby food diet? Baby food. Uh-huh. Much like the cabbage soup diet, where all you eat is cabbage soup, or the raw food diet, where all you eat is – you guessed it! – raw food.
People don’t do diets anymore. They do LIFESTYLES.
For example, there’s the sugar-free lifestyle, inspired by the book Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. According to Gillespie, sugar is poison and therefore you must cut it out altogether.
Remember when you were little and said you were hungry and your parents always said, “have a piece of fruit”? Sorry, but your parents were wrong. Fruit = sugar and therefore also poison. There are some fruits which are less evil than others which are grudgingly permitted, but generally? That thing that you thought was actually good for you is actually contributing to your untimely demise.
(Disclaimer: Much like Katie Holmes being seduced by Scientology, I was briefly converted to the sugar-free lifestyle. I walked around for awhile bragging about it before I realised that my obsession was making me totally miserable. Now I eat fruit salad whenever I like. Freedom = happiness.)
There is also the Paleo lifestyle, which is something to do with the dinosaur-era and how people were so much happier back then because they only ate seeds and giant slabs of mammoth. They didn’t have activated almonds or quinoa in those days but they still did okay without it. Apparently.
At home, it really doesn’t get any better for me. My mother subscribes to medical newsletters for fun (I know, I know) and seems to change the contents of our pantry daily, based on what the newsletters say. For one interesting week, life was all about Splenda. Food was simply not a possibility unless it was Splenda-fied. We had an entire shelf in the cupboard dedicated to The Wonders Of Splenda.
The week after? “Splenda is poison!” Mum yelled as she threw all telltale yellow boxes in the bin. Which was comforting, considering I’d already consumed quite a bit of it.
The same thing has since happened with organic food, bread, dark chocolate, jam… the list goes on. All the confusion means that I often find myself sitting on the couch, nibbling at coasters, because they’re the only thing that hasn’t been banned yet. Rough life, really.
When I look at the women around me, they are confused too. All of them. They all try to eat healthy but they’re all doing completely different things. One doesn’t touch carbs. Another one loves carbs but won’t even look at one past 6pm. One only eats out once a week. Another doesn’t eat anything but vegetables (in various forms, but still, ONLY vegetables).
Sometimes I have days where I eat far too much sugar and crash out at 5pm. Sometimes I have days where I eat salad and toast and 18 million types of vegetables and juice. Sometimes I have days where I indulge in a Max Brenner waffle. Sometimes I go out and consume six standard drinks in less than two hours. Sometimes I exercise for 12 hours straight.
I’m happy. I’m healthy. My body fat percentage is probably not up there in the marathon-runner stakes, but I don’t care because I genuinely think life is better when cupcakes are involved.
As we all roll into 2013, we’re all trying to make resolutions. Rules for our lives that will make us healthier, and therefore happier.
I’d love to make some resolutions. But I can’t decide on any, because I’m so confused about what I’m supposed to be eating. I want the damn food pyramid back.
What do you eat, and why? Are you as confused as I am, or am I just very unintelligent?