Monday, September 22, 2008

A rant on nutrition

I know this is an ART blog, but I have come across a non-art situation that is bugging me so much, I have to write about it.

My local food retailer chain has a so-called “Well-Being” column in its weekly circular, in which a supposed nutritionist – a friendly-looking young lady who has three fancy college degrees listed after her name – offers advice on “healthy” food choices. This week her topic is “women’s health,” and this week her “advice” is even lamer than usual.

The subject of women’s health is a very important issue to me. I am not a particularly passionate cook myself, but I am convinced of the benefits of a diet of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I firmly believe that by making informed nutritional decisions and treating one’s body with care, attention and respect, we can live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

So many women, in particular, are so busy caring for their families that they neglect themselves. And with the terrifying threat of breast and uterine cancer and bone-related problems, women obviously have special considerations when considering caring for their bodies.

This is why the friendly grocery store adviser ticked me off so thoroughly this week. “Studies show,” she writes, “that the average woman’s diet lacks sufficient folic acid, calcium, and iron while containing excess calories. Translation [thanks, ‘cause we’re too stupid to digest this sentence on our own]: women are choosing foods with ample calories, but little nutrition. Try these items to make sure well-balanced nutrition keeps you going strong.”

OK, so what foods does she advocate that we buy at her store, and eat to stay healthy? Believe it or not, these are her suggestions:

Kellogg’s Smart Start Cereal (far more expensive than plain old whole oats, and filled with additives), plus a “fitness” drink called “Joint Juice” (Heaven only knows what scary ingredients are in this stuff), yogurt and milk (there are far healthier and more potent ways to ensure healthy bones than eating dairy products, including eating certain vegetables and engaging in weight-bearing exercise). So while this advice is misleading, it is likely not directly harmful (although many anti-cancer diets are emphatic about eliminating dairy products).

But the other two suggestions from the smiling nutritionist were ridiculous. She advocates chocolate and a pre-packaged pasta dinner. !!!

Now I know that dark chocolate has been touted as a “health food” recently, and I do believe that we all deserve a treat now and then, but how is that low calorie? And PASTA?! If you have the metabolism to keep your weight down by eating pasta, more power to you, but why not eat healthy vegetable pasta that you make yourself, rather than some pre-packaged crapola?

I wish I had this woman in front of me, so I could ask her, “Do you honestly believe that your female customers are THAT stupid, gullible and uninformed?!” Apparently, she does.


Anonymous said...

Right On! It doesn't matter that it is an art blog- maybe you should do more nutrition too. Unfortunately there are many people who believe everything in print. Good nutritional products and information are really needed to help people make informative decisions

Catherine Carter said...

What really ticks me off about this ongoing column is that this lady is presented as an educated authority on nutrition -- and yet she constantly recommends harmful foods! You are absolutely right -- it takes discriminating research and paying attention to our individual body's needs to make informed decisions.

Thank you for writing!

Anonymous said...

When I was going through menopause, the doctors tried to offer me chemical hormones to "balance me out", I opted out and tried the natural route. It worked.

Catherine Carter said...

Doctors don't always know best. The good ones don't pretend do.

Thank you for writing.

Anonymous said...

Oooo, Catherine, that last comment was potent! You are so on the money.

And my philosophy concerning super-nutrition is the less packaging and processing the better and healthier it is.

Catherine Carter said...

Definitely, Martha ... and the less expensive!