Food For Thought#6: Food Glorious Food – It’s Not There For Eating. It’s For DIETING!


A casual, in-depth read of the papers is part of the weekend pastime, rather than the usual ‘quick and dirty’ web browse during the week.  That way you experience the typographic wonderment of: ‘The Weekend Australian, the self-called ‘Heart of the Nation’ (apparently intent on degenerating into a rabid, anti-government, right wing rag); ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ (generally pretty balanced, but with the occasional leap into sensationalist clap-trap); and ‘The Financial Review’ (pretty erudite, and usually well balanced, though I wish I could ‘really’ understand derivatives and other such financial magic potions).  However, the in-week web browse through local and various off-shore papers (The Straits Times, China Daily, Mainichi Daily News, BBC News and The Washington Post) gives you a broader understanding of what’s going on in the world.  We are so parochial, aren’t we?

Where was I?  Oh yes.  While undertaking this sedentary, wine-sipping, browsing activity last weekend I was again bemused by the large amount of information and advice about food – especially from those busily advocating one particular diet or another.  What reminded me again of our interest in food faddery was the article in the Sydney Morning Herald (Spectrum pp 27, Oct 15-16) related to reducing cholesterol and the ‘Portfolio Diet’.  Apparently this diet is ‘the thing’ for high cholesterol fatties who want to ‘get down on the cholesterol scale’.  It’s potentially better that denying yourself saturated fats (bye bye butter), or, stuffing yourself with various pharmaceutically supplied chemicals wrapped in a sugar coating.  Apparently it’s all about eating foods such as soy protein, nuts, oats and barley, legumes and vegetables, and, plant sterols (mild excitement upon the discovery that these are also called steroid alcohols!).  One more, of many, ‘diets’ to add to the collection.

So what’s in the yummy department for us on this particular diet?

Raw, unsalted nuts (five handfuls a week).  How about roasted, salted and accompanied with a nice glass of red wine?  I’ll get some resveratrol then as well.

Raw oats (muesli or porridge).  I’m more inclined towards ‘Just Right’ with a dried fig and several dates soused with full-cream milk and a black coffee without sugar.  Oh, and once or twice a week a Yakult, a couple of fish oil beanies, a vitamin D table or two and a multivitamin with Selenium (still haven’t got over my uni research).

Along with these Portfolio dietary staples, apparently you also need:

Twenty-five grams of soy protein (soy & linseed bread, soy milk, tofu, or soy burgers, or edamame beans.  Umm, no, no thanks, fine in Asian food, give it a miss [thinks, mmmm Hungry Jacks] and then YUM!  Edmame beans boiled till just cooked, drained, sprinkled with lots of sea salt, and then the beans eaten from the pod after you’ve sucked off the  salt.  Mandatory accompaniments wine, beer [Asahi especially] or some other alcoholic beverage like Sake.  Heaven in a green pod!

Five teaspoons of psyllium husks.  You may wish to eat the byproduct of a plant that makes mucilage, I’d rather not.  If you want to eat something gluggy, stringy and sticky try Natto – so much more interesting and you get soy protein as well as probiotics.

Two teaspoons of plant sterol margarine.  Buttered bread with a lettuce leaf sounds nice.

You may also try a little dark chocolate which apparently could have extra cholesterol lowering effects.  Will definitely experiment further with this one, particularly with Rum and raisins in dark chocolate!

Most of the advice, as with most other dietary regimes seems not to pay too much attention to some basic fundamentals:

  1. Energy in must equal energy out.  More energy in that out = fatty, fat, fat.  More  energy out than in = thinny, thin, thin.
  2. Our teeth and gut structures scream OMNIVORE!  That says a balanced, mixed diet inclusive of animal, mineral and vegetable comestibles.
  3. Each of us is a product, and captive, of our particular gene set which includes our mitochondrial ones.  Sorry but you’re stuck with you.
  4. Our almost irresistible desire for high energy foods is probably due to our present evolutionary state of hunter-gatherers.  This is juxtaposed with our technological capability of the manufacture of cheap, high energy density foods.  Not a good mix at this stage and the curse of a clever brain over the rate of evolution.
  5. Food that tastes nice and is bad for you will be eaten in  preference to food that tastes not nice and is good for you.

So you have to ask; will we one day see a highly popular diet that is less about celebrity fads, and/or losing weight in 30 seconds, and/or removing particular compounds from glugging around in your body, and/or detoxifying you so that your body can survive further abuse.  One day we may see one, and we might also embrace it.  Wouldn’t that be a surprise? . . . . . .  And that’s thought for food . . . . .

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About deknarf

Australian born and bred who has spent most of his working life in R&D and IP management with earlier forays in the newspaper industry and martial arts. Fortunate enough to be living in one of the best countries in the World, even though I might get grumpy with it from time to time.
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