How to eat like a human being

In Editorial on January 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm

“He has been a doctor a year now and has had two patients, no, three, I think — yes, it was three; I attended their funerals”. – Mark Twain

I spent several good years participating in the post-graduate education of quite a few American physicians. During that time, I cheerfully parroted the Party Line that salt was bad, cream was evil, eggs were the spawn of Satan, and that butter was a form of plutonium requiring special gloves just to handle it.

During my own, recent encounters with fellow quacks (I own scivvies that are older than most of them.), I regale them with my dietary preferences. The color drains from their fresh little faces when I tell them I cook with real butter, cream, and use salt. Their pale fingers hover over the telephone button for the funeral home as I admit to using half-and-half in my morning coffee.

America’s healthy foods are killing us. It’s time to eat in the human tradition.

First, we are omnivores. We are designed to eat meat, in limited quantities. I eat red meat in about the same quantities as my prehistoric family members…infrequently and in small (4-6oz) quantities. Meat, for our ancestors, was a rare treat that got shared by the whole tribe of freeloading Phyne Dyners. Infrequent meat dinners didn’t go far when they got divided up with everyone.

Second, we are wonderful examples of engineering. Our bodies contain an enormous array of sensors. Some of them are virtually one-celled units. These sensors send signals to glands to secrete substances needed for digestion and to signal our always-hungry brain to stop eating. And, while some of these sensors enjoy cross-sensitivity to ‘healthy’ compounds, they respond best to the substances we were designed to eat.

Fats, cholesterol, and other such things can create havoc when we eat them to excess or if we suffer from a condition or deformity that makes us unable to tolerate them. But all of them are necessary for life. Without them, our tissues would degrade and we would not produce necessary hormones and other substances. They, in moderation, are good for us.

The quacks are in the business of passing out pills, making you healthy is a secondary and purely coincidental pursuit of doctors. (Here’s the ‘skinny’ on my fellow quacks. Doctors endeavor to do three things: take your money, generate referrals, and keep you coming back for the preceding two. They get their drug information from the salesmen peddling them and they never take their own advice.)

Sure, I still eat my whole grains. I favor fats that are soluble at room temperature. But a little real butter can be my friend.

I used to tell my obese patients, “Inside of you, there’s a 150-pound man/woman screaming to be free.” A lot of them became indignant at the comment. They’d protest that they ‘ate healthy’…and they did.

But they ate too much.

Watch Americans eat at a buffet or restaurant. Their plates are covered with enough food to feed a family. Few of them remember how a single chicken provided enough meat for several meals and soup and gravy to boot…for a family of four. Now, one ‘normal size’ woman sits down to half of a yard bird and then waddles off in search of the dessert cart.

Over the past few months, I did my own experiment.

I began eating ‘real’ foods, the ones my fellow quacks told me were virtual cyanide. In response, I noticed my desire for food quantity abated. I got full faster and stayed full longer. I no longer prowled the kitchen an hour or two after eating for ‘something’ to nibble on. I filled in with veggies and grains. But, I didn’t compensate for smaller portions of meat and fats by eating a whole bowl of quinoa.

Pretty soon, the sensors in my body began sending the right signals to target tissues and organs. And, my food tasted better.

At my last visit with a quack, I posed him this question: “If modern medicine and lifestyle is so much better than that of our ancestors, why aren’t we living longer?”

The truth is, any gains in longevity have been offset with losses of life quality. At best, except for infectious disease and the advent of necessary surgical treatment of things like appendicitis, the length of our days has remained fairly constant.

My grandfather ate real butter in his food. Then he walked behind a team of horses for the rest of the day.

He did not fill his plate full of antibiotic and hormone-laden meat. He enjoyed a small piece of meat and a healthy helping of insecticide-free vegetables.

He didn’t live forever and the span of his days was right about at the average of seventy-five years. Not much of a difference in length than folks today who dine on fat-free, trans-fat free, sugar-free, and flavor-free foods of our day.

Eat the things you were designed to eat and eat them in the amounts you were intended to have them in; not the amount some advertising executive says you want.


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