by John Ryan
As the resolution season unfolds, I want to sound the alarm about falling 'shoulds': how we should eat less fat, should get more exercise, should eat more fruits and vegetables, blah, blah, blah. To my way of thinking we'd all be a lot better off if we stopped 'shoulding' all over each other.
I don't need anyone to tell me the virtues of brown rice and beans. I know I should eat more of them. The trouble is, everywhere I look there's all this free fat. When I'm out and about and hunger strikes, the fastest fix is a burger, which often comes with free fries. It's only after I'm full that I regret that burgers and fries are so cheap and convenient.
In the same way that credit cards allow us to enjoy comforts beyond our weekly paycheck, the proliferation of high-fat, convenience foods allow us to eat beyond our activity level. So every January 1st we find ourselves vulnerable to shoulds.
I can deal with the temptations of fast food, but when it comes to cooking, rather than should-ing us to death, I'd like to see health pundits exposing the deceit of many low-fat recipes. I'd like to see them point out how a lot of "lite" cooking is not rich food sensibly trimmed of excess, but rich food replaced with a low-fat or non-fat impostor. For instance, how the lite approach gives us ways to put more fat-free whipped topping on our pumpkin pie rather than giving us desserts that don't require whipped cream. From the faux fat world the message comes across loud and clear that only rich, high-fat food is worth eating. So while industry and low-fat writers should us about rice and beans, they themselves don't get really excited until they figure out ways to get us rich, creamy recipes we can eat every day.
The thing about this approach is that we maintain a ravenous appetite for creamy, sweet, greasy food. And that appetite eclipses the world of delicious food that never did require gobs of cream and butter to be good.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
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