I can remember when cookies were healthy. No. Seriously! They were only 100 calories, fat-free, and claimed to be good for me. Come to think of it, there were several other healthy foods I enjoyed regularly, some of them even branded with the heart-check logo from the American Heart Association. Cheerios, SnackWells, Baked Lays, granola bars, fat free bagels – all that healthy processed goodness, wrapped in fancy packaging, promising health benefits that range from weight control to lower cholesterol.
Then one day something happened. My beloved foods, that served me so well and brought me so much joy, turned on me. They suddenly were no longer keeping me energized, slim, and feeling fit. It was a crushing blow. Treason of the highest order! I had been assured by commercials, organizations, and other such reliable entities that fat-free or low-fat foods were the building blocks of a tiny waist, fabulous thighs and less junk in my trunk. I was dismayed the day I realized my trunk was expanding from the somewhat fashionable Honda CRX capacity, to the rather less attractive, but spacious, Lincoln Continental. (Excuse me, I ordered a Porsche.) This was not supposed to be happening. I was exercising daily! I was eating healthy whole grains! I was avoiding fat! I was eating miniscule desserts from Weight Watchers! HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ME?!?
So I set out to learn what kind of awful influences these once good foods had been exposed to. It had to be a “bad apple” of some kind that convinced them to turn on me so. I refused to believe that the heart healthy seal was actually as worthless as the cardboard it was printed on. I couldn’t fathom the idea that the advice I’d been given by the USDA could possibly be wrong. I mean, c’mon. These people study the science without bias or conflict of interest, right? How could the food pyramid possibly be flawed?
Sadly, my research turned up more questions than answers. I’ve spent the last decade trying to understand what happened. I still can’t claim to have all the answers, but I have learned quite a lot about what is healthy for me personally. What I do know is that those “heart healthy” foods and I had a dysfunctional relationship. They were doing a number on my physical and emotional well-being, all the while proclaiming their love and concern for my health. Now, they no longer like me, and I no longer like them. And there is plenty of science to explain why we are no longer on speaking terms. If you know anything about low-carb living, you likely understand the connections between weight management and insulin/leptin. You may also have read about inflammation, heart disease and carbohydrates. The scientific evidence connecting saturated fat and heart disease is non-existent, yet theory, lacking solid research, is the foundation for our nationally accepted heart-healthy recommendations. Learning these facts was a crushing blow.
My eyes were opened to the truth. My beloved foods really weren’t good for me. I was being deceived. I knew I had to make a clean break and end the relationship for good. At first I cried over the injustice of it all. It simply wasn’t fair that other people could eat pasta and lose weight, but I couldn’t. How could I ever exist without my baked potato? What about angel food cake? It can’t be bad for me! It has angel in the name for crying out loud! Alas, no. These were now foods of my past, to be left behind forever (but hopefully not left in my behind forever). I got angry. I grieved. Then I put on my big girl undies and started planning my new way of life.
It was a tough transition, but I pushed through. Eventually those foods that had broken my heart, and body, were forgotten. I learned to love again. I rekindled a few old childhood friendships, like veggies swimming in delicious golden butter. I could enjoy full fat cheese without guilt. Avocado and I have been best friends for several years now. And Bacon! Bacon and I are inseparable. (Seriously, don’t try to take my bacon. I’ll fork you.)
If you feel betrayed by your favorite foods, you are not alone. There are many others seeking options outside current societal norm. Since the norm isn’t working for most people, thinking outside the box is a good thing. Let go of the guilt, learn to love your new lifestyle, focus on the positives, and carry on. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. And if you happen to see sugar, punch it in the face. It does some nasty things when it thinks you aren’t looking.