Friday, February 15, 2013

Eavesdropping About Nutrition

Yesterday I was standing in line in the "Express Line" at Walmart (I say "Express Line" because it really didn't seem all that express-like) and the older lady in front of me and the older lady behind me were having a vibrant conversation about food and nutrition. And of course, I could not help but eavesdrop since I was literally in the middle of the conversation. In the 10 minutes or so that we waited in line, they brought up many many topics, but 2 of them really stuck in my memory.

The first was one of the woman's story about her grand-daughter who tried to become a vegetarian but had failed because she felt too tired all of the time so she went back to eating meat to get her energy levels back to normal. Then the woman went on and on about how a person needs meat to have energy and that vegetarians can't fuel themselves properly. Anyone who saw my face probably saw my lips purse together and my eyes roll up to the ceiling, just trying to keep my mouth shut. Of course vegetarians can fuel themselves adequately! The problem with people who suddenly become vegetarian is that they do not do the research necessary to learn how to eat the right foods and how to combine foods to make complete proteins. I know many vegetarians who live on cheese and bread and wonder why they feel like crap all of the time. Arrrg! If you want to be a healthy vegetarian with lots of energy, then do your homework and be willing to experiment with new foods and put out some effort to do it right. Here's a link to a great source of information if you want some facts about a healthy vegetarian diet.

The next quick conversation was about one the women's daughter-in-law. The woman said that she tried "that gluten free diet" and had no luck with it and actually gained weight. "So much for being healthy," she said. It took so much for me to keep quiet. SO MUCH! She didn't say anything else because it was her turn at the cash register, but how I interpreted these few sentences is that this daughter-in-law had the notion that a gluten-free diet is a diet to help people become healthy and lose weight. The thing that makes me angry about the gluten-free diet is that it has exploded onto the scene and you can find gluten-free products everywhere. While this is awesome for people with actual Celiac's Disease (an autoimmune response to a protein in products that contain wheat, barley and rye), people are interpreting this rush of gluten-free products as a health craze. Maybe it's because they are mostly kept in the Health Food section of the grocery store?

Anyway, the problem with gluten-free products is that most of them contain tons of added sugar and teeny tiny amounts of fibre. Going gluten-free is not a diet-craze. It's a lifestyle and way of eating for people with a serious disease which alters their ability to absorb nutrients - not a diet to help the rest of the population lose weight. It doesn't work that way and is not intended to work that way. People who have Celiac's Disease can obviously live very healthily and make good choices to keep their body weight "normal", just like the rest of us. We should be appreciative that we don't have to put out the extra money to purchase these products and enjoy the foods we can eat every day. Here's a link to the Canadian Celiac Association for more information.

I saw this posted on a friend's Facebook page and enjoyed it. It's got lots of great information about food and nutrition plus helps to clear up some huge misconceptions about the food that we eat, or don't eat.

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