A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marketing Dishonesty in Food

Last weekend a friend of mine was visiting from out of town, and when we spotted a frozen yogurt bar next to the restaurant where we had eaten we decided to go there for dessert.  I got nutella and peanut butter twist frozen yogurt, topped with more nutella (MOAR NUTELLA!) and some chocolate chips.

It was a sweet, decadent, delicious treat the likes of which I will have around once every two to three months.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed every bite.  I regret nothing.

Here’s what I have a problem with:

What I ate last weekend should not under any circumstances be classified as health food.  Trying to bill it as such is dishonest, annoying, and frankly dangerous.  The intentional attempt to mislead consumers into thinking that this gigantic wallop of sugar is a great way to boost your immune system and build strong bones makes me want to beat somebody senseless with a waffle cone.

The truth is that the product I ate contains 22 grams of sugar and 150 calories per half cup.  Since my total serving was probably closer to 1 & ½ cups, that’s 66 grams of sugar and 450 calories and that’s before I dumped more nutella and chocolate chips on top.

It’s okay for a treat to be a treat.  It’s a treat exactly because we don’t and shouldn’t eat that way every day.  I don’t even eat treats like that every week or every month, it’s about a quarterly indulgence and even that is more frequently than is smart to hork down three days’ worth of sugar in a single serving.  It is never smart to eat that much sugar in one go, but I love it and I do sometimes indulge because I’m trying to put food in its proper place in my life rather than continuing to pathologically abstain, obsess, and then binge.

I study food and nutrition so it’s easy for me to recognize that billing a sugar-frosted yogurt bar as health food is a complete crock of horse poo.  However, not everyone has the time or interest level for the kind of research that fascinates me.  They very well might read the signs plastered all over the building about all the healthy calcium and protein and figure that this is not only tasty, but a really wholesome snack.  Let’s stop by every week!  Marketing occasional indulgences with misleading buzzword lines like, “our frozen yogurt contains live and active cultures that promote a healthy lifestyle” is intellectually dishonest and potentially harmful an insane degree.

Processed foods like cereal and granola are hugely guilty of this kind of marketing bait and switch as well, focusing all the words on their packaging on the few vitamins and minerals that were squeezed into a product and relegating the volumes of salt, sugar and fat to a teeny tiny font size on the back.

Refined sugar is delicious and I love desserts that feature it.  I don’t buy into the food hysteria that classifies it as an addictive like crack, cancer-causing, instant obesity inducing substance.  It takes time and repeated, regular indulgence to become overweight – which means that having a froyo when a friend visits or when you’re on vacation (or just because it’s been months and you really want one) is totally fine.  I want delicious treats to be an occasional part of my diet without obsessing over them or lying to myself and classifying them as health food so that I can overindulge on a regular basis.  You can lie to your brain all you want, but your body isn’t going to buy it.

A decadent frozen yogurt bar is good for the soul.  And that's all it has to be.

Delicious? Absolutely! Health food? Absolutely not.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In The Grey

I’ve been failing to fit neatly into a particular box for some time now.  Political season is once more coming upon us at locomotive speed, and all I can feel about it is tired.

I am not a Republican.  I am not a Democrat.  I have been registered as both (and more recently as a Libertarian) but now I am simply Independent.  I believe that the people who run both of the big two at their highest level get together in secret to have a drink, smoke cigars, decide what the rest of us will have to live with, and laugh at the way they keep the majority of us distracted squabbling and snarling at each other on social media so that we don’t pay too much attention to what they are really doing.

Yes, I am aware that this makes me a conspiracy theorist.

I still vote.  I do this because the women who came before me fought so hard for me to have that right.  I would never dishonor their memory by failing to take advantage of it.  However, each and every time I vote I find myself longing for some real truth and wishing I had a better option than the best of uniformly bad choices.

I am too liberal for conservatives, and too conservative for liberals.  I do not identify cleanly with either group because I dislike the behavior of extremists on both sides.

I am too Christian for Atheists and too “liberal-minded” for many Christians.  I am simultaneously too Feminist and not nearly Feminist enough.  I support civil unions for all, believe evolution to be our best current working theory on the way God made the world, and think that human beings are never qualified to decide when to end the lives of other human beings.  Death comes pretty soon for all of us anyway, we don’t need to hurry it.  At the same time I would fight to preserve my life if someone tried to take it.  Or at least I hope I would find the courage to if that situation ever came upon me.

I change my mind a lot when introduced to new information.  I consider this a strength as I am able to absorb new things and adapt to them.  Particularly since I believe most people never stray too far from whatever core beliefs they acquired in adolescence.  Some people think this just makes me wishy-washy.  Truth gets buried deeper and deeper every day in an ocean of unending websites.

I refer to all of this as living perpetually in the grey.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Air Conditioning: A Rant

I live on the wrong continent.

I say this because I have been told that there are places in Europe that don’t automatically refrigerate every indoor space the moment the temperature outside goes above 70◦F.

When I was a kid, summers were hot and they were supposed to be hot.  We liked it that way.  At night, the windows were open and there would be a fan stuck in at least one of them, humming away with a comforting summer tune and circulating balmy air through our darkened bedrooms.  During the day we wore shorts, drank water, went swimming, sat in the shade, and ran through sprinklers.  I was never cold.

It was heaven.

It was only after I moved out on my own at the age of 24 that I first experienced life with an air conditioner, and even then it was only in my bedroom so that my poorly ventilated second story room got enough air in it on the hottest of summer nights.

It’s May now, so I have to carry a coat all the time.  When I go indoors I put it on, when I come back out I take it off, wincing at the instant headaches that having to cycle repeatedly through warm, then frigid, then warm, then frigid environments cause.

I work in an office building, so I bundle up in layers of sweaters all summer long.  I sit at my desk shivering, often working with gloves on, gritting my teeth over the money being flushed away in an endeavor to make me as uncomfortable as possible.  When I leave work at the end of the day I breathe out a long sigh of relief upon walking into the parking lot and getting to feel the sun for the first time.  I get into a car that’s been sitting enclosed in the sun all day and actually revel for a few seconds in the feeling of intense warmth before rolling the windows down.

I’m cold, to varying degrees, all winter long.  Then I’m cold to varying degrees all summer too.

Look, I’m not advocating sweltering to death if someone is elderly or infirm.  I know that people die every summer because of excess heat and poor ventilation and I don’t want that to get worse.  But would it really kill corporations to cut the budget by building office windows that OPEN and allowing fresh air and fan ventilation on spring and fall days?

Do we really need to run air conditioners on full blast inside hermetically sealed buildings in April?  In March?!  It’s making us all soft; unable to use or even recognize the natural ways our bodies have of regulating fluctuations in temperature.

Human beings were not meant to live like this.