Monday, 11 March 2013

Diet Stuff (2): Why The Official Advice Is Half The Story

I never did like chemistry. Too many long pseudo-latinate words. Too many formulas and equations to remember. Biology was worse. The insides of a human body are way less real to me than the uncountable set of countable ordinals. I was never convinced that the human body was some kind of carbon-based life-form and they all worked the same way. Maybe in the sense that cars are metal-based life-forms and "all work the same way", but some are Ferrari Testarossa's and some are Fiat Punto's. You don't drive or service a Testarossa like a Punto.

I've spent enough time in gyms to know that human bodies are incredibly various: I look fairly big and strong, but I'm not. I have small wrists and a curved back. There's no way I can push heavy weights or do big squats: I would just hurt myself, possibly permanently. I have awful heart-lung-circulation and I've been jogging for ages. It might have been all those years smoking twenty-a-day (long since passed) but I don't remember being any better at school. I can't play chess or solve problems to save my life either. I do have style, and I am one of not many people who actually understands Heideggeran phenomenology and cohomology. I'm good at deep ideas and foundations. I'm good at steady exertion of power, I can't do explosive stuff like squat jumps. It just hurts. You will be different. We all are, and I don't mean that in a "it takes all sorts to make a world" or "all difference is equally valuable" sense. I mean it in a what-works-for-you-might-very-well-just-hurt-me sense. Everyone knows people who can eat anything and never put on weight, just as we have all been squashed against on the train by the person who puts on fat just by looking at food. 

The official advice, by contrast, portrays the human body becomes a simple, uniform machine that only works one way. Calories in, calories out. Eat a bunch of crap that our good donors in the food industry make. Don't eat anything that comes from a dairy or herd farm, because the bureaucrats hate actual farmers and real animals and want to get rid of them. Factories are so much easier to monitor. And no-one, but no-one, even journalists who pour scorn on the incompetence of government and its agencies, ever argues with the food officials. It's not because they don't understand nutrition and physiology, they don't understand economics either but that doesn't stop them babbling on about economics.

They don't dump on the food officials because food is about class war. Ever notice how nothing that the "working class" eats is healthy? How being fit and healthy is always about self-denial and self-discipline? That being fat is always due to moral fault? How what is supposed to be "good" for you is always expensive and not available in food shops anywhere near council estates? How what's bad for you always sounds like stuff that teenage girls pretend not to like just to irritate their parents? 

Much more to the point, ever notice that none of the diet or health spokespeople, officials or professors have a decent set of triceps or indeed any muscle definition at all? Ever wondered how much they could bench? Or indeed, what their attention span is? If they do anything at all, it's always running? Trained runners can do a sub-three-hour marathon on a large plate of pasta. Running is a lousy way to burn off calories. It's only exercise when you're no good at it: when you're good, you use the minimum of effort. Unlike weights, where you can always push yourself harder, and always burn more.

And have you ever noticed that the more expensive the food is (steak, game, fish) the less important a role it should play in your diet? Yep. You can feed yourself properly on cheap food. Which is a good thing for the taxpayer, because on minimum wage, you can't afford steak, salmon and nuts. Actually, you can't afford good bread either, which is another thing you will notice about official diet advice: it never talks about quality. All "bread" is the same - which it isn't. All "vegetables" are the same - whereas Dutch hydroponic carrots are not the same as the real ones Grampa used to grow on his allotment. So let's not get into that, because maybe someone will do the math and discover that putting all the government's advice together (never mind the stuff about saving) would push the Minimum Wage up to about £10/hour. So of course other people can live perfectly well on a diet of rice, onions, a couple of carrots and some chick peas. Strangely, the person telling other people this doesn't eat that way themselves.

The official advice is crap. Like all memos, it's there for the protection of the sender rather than the information of the receiver. 

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