Remember back in the 1990s when we had the no-fat, low-fat craze? The general public suddenly became wary — fearful, even — of eating anything that contained fat. Labels started popping up on our favorite foods that said things like now with less fat and zero grams of fat per serving. A war had been waged against one of the three major macromolecules and this was one war that the fat molecule was not going to win.
But then we realized that if there is no fat in our foods, what the heck is in there? Sugar. And that’s when the war against the second major macromolecule was waged. New slogans appeared that showed your favorite foods were now made with less sugar options; candy was made with low and no sugar, and even ice cream cropped up with no sugar added.
Somehow, even with all these wars on foods, we the people still continued to get heavier and more unhealthy. Doctors and nutritionists brought us back to the main science of eating, namely the second law of conservation of energy which shows us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Thus, if we take in the same amount of energy that we put out each day, we should be able to easily manipulate our bodies into gaining weight, losing weight, or maintaining our current weight. While this is intrinsically true, there are variables omitted from this perfect system such as the adaptability of the human body and the type of mass lost in weight loss (i.e. losing fat tissue, muscle tissue, water, etc.).
At this point, the general public had thrown up their hands and cried Uncle. And here we find ourselves, in this past decade, in the era of eating by omission. Entering any health food section of any market will lead you to slogans such as gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, allergen-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, and so many more. While some of us have good reason to eat by omission, considering the reality of many diseases, disorders, and maladies that can be controlled through diet, the majority of us are merely following the trend — while paying top dollar for products that are of little use to us.
The next time you go to the market and find yourself lured in by clever marketing and peer pressure, ask yourself a few questions. Am I vegan? If not, why am I eating and paying for vegan foods? Do I have a gluten allergy, sensitivity, or Celiac’s disease? If not, why am I eating and paying for gluten-free foods? If you are objective, you may find when you leave the market that your tally is less than usual. And of course then you can put that money towards buying better foods in general — organic, fresh, whole foods which, of course, is where healthier eating starts.
This post originally appeared at CityRoom.com.