Posted by Anni on Monday, March 19th, 2012
The tastiest foods—those tempting treats that pop up in daydreams just before your lunch break—are always the worst for you. At least that’s true for me. My daydreams feature french fries drowned in gravy and cheese, fried chicken, eggs and bacon, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. Of course, each of these delectable foods is included on the Do Not Eat List, that party pooper of a rattle-off my doctor delivers at minute five of each and every appointment.
My doctor is right. Cholesterol is scary stuff. There are lots of theories about why we find the most dangerous foods the most delicious. Once upon a time, when we were just animals living out in nature, a high-fat item meant nourishment. It meant we wouldn’t need another high-fat item for a good long time. On the plains or in the dark winter, a single fatty feast could keep you healthy through lean weeks. It could provide the critical fats for a growing baby’s brain. It could provide the calories necessary to stay warm through a crushing ice-age blizzard.
Today, with our cushy heated homes, sedentary lifestyles, and corner supermarkets, we don’t have to worry so much about storing up fat for the lean weeks ahead. But our bodies don’t know that. Evolutionary time is a strange beast. It could take a hundred thousand years for evolution to create a human immune to the french fry. I don’t know about you but I don’t have that kind of time.
It’s not easy to resist something when every fiber of your fleshy being is craving its salty crunch. If it were easy, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic and people wouldn’t be dying from clogged arteries. So, because so many of us can’t resist the temptation, we take drugs to protect our hearts from the delicious cholesterol in our everyday foods. Of course, new studies are linking those drugs (statins) to memory problems and an increased risk of developing diabetes, and that puts us all in a tricky spot.
Some people, mostly the health-nuts who have extraordinary self-control (I think they’re just born that way), tell us to simply curtail our eating, replace bread with millet and hamburger with ostrich and run four miles every day. Yeah right. I think people would sooner die, literally, than stop eating the foods they love (I won’t comment on the exercise). I don’t think it’s a choice for many of us—I think we are all slaves to our biology. So if medications aren’t the solution and we can’t control our eating, what do we do? I guess we learn all we can, try our best, and hope for a medical miracle.
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