Lately, around the blogworld, many bloggers have been getting into the raw-food movement. I don’t think anyone would question the fact that raw fruits and veggies are healthy.
However (and I really don’t mean to point fingers; I’m just venting, so please don’t take my opinions personally), some posts seem to have taken on a holier-than-thou tone, making it seem like this is the healthiest way to eat and that people who don’t eat this way are inferior. I’ve actually been getting a few emails from girls who now feel badly about the way they eat thanks to these posts. Bloggers, please remember that you have a responsibility as someone putting content up for public view! Yes, you should be allowed to write what you want (freedom of the press, after all). But remember that impressionable young girls and boys will be reading, so please try to think before you publish.
It’s sad to see people–who don’t have the credentials to give nutritional advice–telling others they are bad if they eat tofu, soy, or processed foods. There is nothing wrong with enjoying processed foods now and then, sans guilt. No, you will not live a shorter life than someone who is so strict with her diet that she’ll never allow herself even the occasional treat. In fact, you may even be healthier than those who are 100% strict all the time. Why? The stress caused by ensuring one eats a “perfect” diet (and the amount of time it takes to plan this) could be more detrimental to one’s health than eating the occasional processed food. My great grandma’s mantra (which is, coincidentally, the mantra of many other centenarians) was “everything in moderation.” She enjoyed a cup of espresso every day (Gasp! Caffeine! Evil!), ate sausage on occasion (not that I’m advocating this from an ethical standpoint), and quite enjoyed her cookies, thank you very much. Oh, and she was a healthy, active lady into her nineties! (My grandma has a similar attitude, and she’s healthy and happy at 85.)
Many processed foods boast health benefits. For example, tempeh has probiotics and protein, frozen veggies actually contain more vitamins than fresh ones, and don’t forget the health benefits and endorphins one can get from enjoying the taste of a delicious food.
And for convenience sake, sometimes an energy bar or a packaged product is a great choice. If you choose the right one, you can get a nice dose of necessary vitamins (such as Vitamin B12 for vegans), protein, a serving of whole grains, and fiber. Plus, life should not be all about food, and having some of these convenience items on hand can give you more time to enjoy other aspects of life. Amy and her Bistro Burgers have helped me out on many an occasion.
All that being said, I do believe it is important to eat mostly unprocessed foods. Anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that the bulk of the food I eat is unprocessed fruits, veggies, beans, and grains. Maybe I don’t eat processed foods every day, but I sure enjoy them when I do indulge. And I don’t think I’m any less healthy than someone who won’t ever allow herself to eat any of these things. (Perfect past medical tests, through-the-roof energy levels, and strong hair and nails can attest to this.)
Now, on to the soy issue. Soy is NOT the devil! The problem is that manufacturers have started to put soy in almost every processed food, causing some people to get too much of it (in its most-processed form). Too much of any food will be unhealthy. Did you know that an excessive amount of broccoli can cause acid poisoning? Yes, the results of a few studies show soy to be detrimental to one’s health. (If you shove an ungodly amount of any food down a rat’s throat and don’t give the rat any other foods for a varied diet, the rat is going to get sick!) But the Japanese eat soy every day–mostly in unprocessed forms–and history (not a small study on any scale!) has proven these people to have some of the longest, healthiest life spans of anyone in the world. What would you rather believe: a few small studies or the history of an entire population?
Finally, as I wrote on my FAQ page, one can eat a “perfect” diet, never allowing oneself any processed or so-called “unhealthy” foods, and then get hit by a bus. Do you really want to look back on your life and say, “Gosh I wish I’d eaten more of my favorite foods and not been so restrictive with my diet”? Besides, with the volatility of science, who knows what “perfect” is anyway!
So my point with the above essay (Did I really just write an essay when I didn’t have to for school?) is that you completely deserve a life that is FREE from food guilt.
One more time, let me stress: Please don’t take offense to this post if you are a raw-foodist. I have absolutely nothing against you or your lifestyle. I simply wrote this to counter the people who say raw foodism is the only very healthy diet. Live and let live. .