Sunday, July 29, 2012

Healthy Eating---a disease? NOT!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently issued an article 
about a newly discovered eating disorder, orthorexia, which has me perplexed.

Here's an excerpt:

"Orthorexia starts out with a true intention of wanting to be healthier, but it's taken to an extreme," says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, CDN, ACSM-HFS, who specializes in working with eating disorder clients. "If someone is orthorexic, they typically avoid anything processed, like white flour or sugar. A food is virtually untouchable unless it's certified organic or a whole food. Even something like whole-grain bread – which is a very healthy, high-fiber food – is off limits because it's been processed in some way." 

The article goes on to say that feeling the need to prepare your own food in your own kitchen is another example of this “extreme behavior.”  Instead of being seen as a proactive thing to do for one's health, the action of eating pure foods that maintain your health, and doing so at home, is being pathologized.  

As a celiac, this is the only way I can be assured of not consuming gluten, and for the millions of others who have food allergies, intolerances, and/or auto-immune diseases, it is the same story.  And for those who simply want fresh, vital foods, the kind that aren't usually sold in a cardboard package, well, they, too, risk being labeled as someone with disordered eating.  Really?!

So who, exactly, is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or more aptly stated, who is funding them?   

<<"In 2011, they...received corporate contributions totaling around $1.2 million from organizations such as NestleKelloggMars, Inc., Coca Cola and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, as well as a $500,000 donation from industrial food giant General Mills to promote healthy eating for kids...The Academy’s stated position is that “there are no good or bad foods, only good and bad diets.” According to the Academy, such labeling or “bumpers” confuse the public. The Academy opposed mandated labeling of "trans fats" on food packaging.">>

It seems this organization is yet another paid mouthpiece of agribusiness and junk food makers.  Speaks for itself, doesn't it? 

I am fundamentally skeptical of the US food industry, and when the dietitian in the article says whole grain bread is a healthy food, that view of mine gets reinforced.  Conceptually, whole grain should be healthy, but read on....big Agri-business, aka Monsanto, Cargill, ConAgra...all buy and sell GMO soy, corn, etc. and that is what is in even the righteously labeled "whole grain" breads, at least in the mainstream brands like Sara Lee, Pepperidge Farms, Orowheat, and others.  When you actually look at the labels, you will see that the breads are made primarily with refined flours, with high fructose corn syrup, soy additives, and other chemical preservatives. 

There are true whole grain foods available, of course, but one has to be a food detective and have your magnifying glasses on in the store to read labels, in order to find them.  Our 'fresh" foods are coated with wax, herbicides and pesticides. A statistic I saw a few years ago said that each person in the US consumes a minimum of nine pounds of pesticide/herbicide a year.  This was before the campaign to have us eat nine to eleven servings a day of fruits and veggies; I wonder how many pounds we are eating now?  Pesticides and herbicides that are banned here are used liberally in Chile and Mexico and other countries where much of our winter fruit and veggies come from.  I won't even go into how livestock, other than organic, are treated or what they are fed (their own excrement or body parts, antibiotics, and more).
The best advice I have is to grow your own foods if you can, buy local and organic if you can't, get involved in forcing GMO labeling to become law in this country (90% of US citizens feel it should, but so far, our legislators, whose coffers are filled by the corporations affected by farm policy, aren't willing to do it), and read labels carefully on anything you buy from the grocery store.

For more information on these issues, check out the following sources:

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