Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.

–Laurence J. Peter

You knew it would happen. Thanksgiving is over, and now we must be subjected to a slew of articles about how to lose that holiday pound. Some of this advice is even packaged in implications designed to make you feel guilty: if you/us big fat Americans didn’t eat all this meat and all this fat at the holidays and get all fat and lazy and gorge yourselves/ourselves on fat and meat the whole world would be a better place.

These kinds of articles amuse me when they appear at holiday time because they seem to be suggesting that Americans are the only people on earth who gorge themselves on meat and fat and sweets at special occasions. That somehow, if you agreed to eat some stir fried tofu for Thanksgiving instead of all that meat and fat, the world would magically become a Princess Pink Fairy Wonderland all the time.

The Chinese have a saying: Food is everything. That’s why they show such restraint at Chinese New Year.

Overeating at the holidays, China style
Note the pig trotters, top left

That restraint also, of course, explains why Chinese demand for “luxury” food like chocolates and cheese is causing fear of worldwide shortages.

Then there’s those restrained Greek holiday meals that last for days.

Admit it, you wish you had a thing like that in your backyard

And of course we could all take a lesson from Brazil.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that there aren’t starving people in the world. Sadly and horribly, there are. As Jesus told us, there will always be poor among us. But forcing everyone in the world to stop eating meat and fat will not do away with all starving people. Sorry. (For more on how to talk to a vegan about why forcing veganism on all will not allow us to “feed everyone,”–and other nonsense–see here.)

I’m also not implying that we should all eat like it’s Thanksgiving every day–and therein lies at least part of today’s point.

The ubiquitous human habit of eating lots of fatty, meaty and sometimes also sugary food at holidays and celebrations is not the problem. The problem that gets us is twofold. In the first place, we tend to eat like we’re having a celebration a bit too often. I’ve got no beef (ha ha) with reasonable amounts of meat and fat any day. But while our daily meat and fat consumption has stayed the same or gone down, we’ve gone from a nation of families that would go through two pounds of sugar in a whole year to one of families that can go through that much in one day. (For you math geeks, the average intake for an adult equals about 10oz of sugar a day. Family of three, one day, and you’re already through two pounds. And that’s not even taking into account that kids eat more on average than adults.)

In the second place, we’re not eating real food, but instead food-like substances such as this:

Also available in Spicy Jack!

What fat we still eat is no longer from containers like this:

Bossy judges you
Fat factory

Instead it comes in containers like this–Frankenfats that are synthetic, shelf-stable fats that mess with your metabolism, oxidize easily and drive up inflammation.

Also available in flavors
Pam! Because pouring a little oil or butter into that pan is too much effort

The French are over there enjoying excellent heart health and baking fresh pastries every morning with flour, sugar, butter, and water and then spreading them with butter and real fruit. We’re over here hitting the plunger on the insulin needle while we eat blueberry toaster pastries containing enriched flour, thiamin mononitrate, corn syrup, soybean oil, palm oil with added TBHG (whatever that is), sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup (because apparently the corn syrup, sugar, and dextrose weren’t enough), corn syrup solids (I knew we were missing a sweetener!), modified corn starch (because the regular stuff isn’t good enough–only the chemically altered corn starch is a fine enough product for this), milled corn, soybean oil, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, caramel coloring, fructose (!), “artificial flavor”, cellulose gum, “color”, soy lecithin, molasses (!!), xanthan gum, datem, blueberry juice concentrate, palmitate, niacinamide, red 40, pyridoxine hydrochloride, blue lake 1, thiamin hydrochloride and blue 1.

And yes, I realize some of those chemical names are actually “vitamins” that were sprayed on for your “health,” but if you think the Vitamin B you get from a fresh, medium-rare steak is treated by your body the same as the pyridoxine hydrocholoride that Kellogg sprayed on your “pastry,” I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Now I’m not suggesting you start baking pastries and spreading them with fruit every morning. What I am saying is that there’s a huge difference between what Jacque and John are eating.

All the items on that list of toaster pastry ingredients may be technically benign, sure. Fine to eat sometimes. But what is the effect over, say 20 years or 40 or 60 years of ingesting that stuff every day, along with whatever is in the cheese curls, the frozen lemonade concentrate, and the cheapest bologna on the aisle? Or, say, whatever is in the boxed stuffing mix, the tinned cranberry sauce, the can of mushroom soup you poured over the green beans–or even in the bread you bought to make your own stuffing? (ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], WATER, SUGAR, YEAST, SALT, SOYBEAN AND/OR CANOLA OIL, ENRICHMENT (CALCIUM SULFATE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D3), CALCIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), CALCIUM SULFATE, DATEM, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, CITRIC ACID, SOY LECITHIN , SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, WHEAT GLUTEN, ETHOXYLATED MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES.)

That’s what you should be worried about: not enjoying good food during the holiday season.

Just make sure it’s GOOD food.

Plato says he’s hungry

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