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Food Frustrations

Heidi Shenk "food"

Food is obviously one of the most important aspects in our daily lives. Without it, we cannot sustain life. For me, food has become not only something of importance for living, but for for other aspects of life as well. Food is what everything pivots around-- conversation and company of good friends and family, exploration in travel, and just enjoying the basic element of life. Savoring food slows us down and brings us away from the daily grind. Enjoying time in the kitchen at the end of the day is something that Andrew and I do together almost daily. There is a joy in that companionship, over discovering new flavors, and challenging ourselves to new and innovative recipes.

My love for not just food, but good food comes directly from my mother, without a doubt. I think back to time with my mom's side of the family sitting at the dinner table for hours, eating, drinking, laughing, conversing, and just enjoying. I remember coming home from elementary school to a house filled with the smell of fresh French bread, ripping off a piece of bread from a baguette, and devouring it just as is because it was just that good. I think of hours over time spent sitting with my dad at my mom's bakery enjoying a flavorful afternoon cup of coffee along with one of my favorite cookies or pastries.

Food is not just food.

via Old English Company

In the past years, I have begun to see a startling trend. Food becomes restricted, becomes the enemy. Clearly, to be healthy individuals it becomes necessary to restrict the amount of food that we consume. It does no one any good to overeat. However, restricting food in other ways by excluding things from your diet is a trend that I will understand the least. Every few years it seems that we're "supposed" to exclude yet another thing from our diets or we will be deemed as unhealthy or simply not caring about what we put into our bodies. And then, the next year, it's fine again to eat that, but we need to exclude something else.

These food trends sadden and frustrate me. After all, we only live once, so why not enjoy all that there is to offer, but eat with moderation to remain healthy? Recently, the trend that has cropped up is the gluten-free diet. It is very possible that I'll get myself in trouble for posting my opinions on food trends, but it seems that these days no one can share their opinion without being considered offensive. Sure, there are benefits for some people in which a gluten-free diet makes most sense. However, studies show these benefits are not proven to make any difference for the majority of people's health. (Yes, I'm sure that there are articles that would say the opposite, but isn't that how the media always dictates food trends? I mean last year coffee was bad for you, and this year it's good for you!) In addition, most people who have gone gluten-free are self-diagnosed which in itself can be dangerous. In the majority of cases, when we exclude things from our diets, we lose out on important vitamins, fibers, fats, sugars, nutrients, etc.

Some of the recent arguments that I hear for a gluten-free diet have to do with digestive issues. Certainly there is a connection here, as we know that gluten affects those with Celiac disease. However, we seem to have forgotten that indigestion can be caused by other aspects-- processed foods, stress and anxiety, and an unbalanced diet-- all things that seem to plague the American society as a whole. As a nation, we eat a lot of junk, we don't slow down to eat, we cram too much to do into the day, and we teach our children that good food and water is gross as we feed them McDonald's and soft drinks. However, at the end of the day, each person can choose what they want to put into their bodies-- that is a personal choice that we all make.

via Hero Design Studio
I choose to eat gluten. I would be lost without bread (among many other things such as beer), and bread has flour which contains gluten. And you know what? I feel healthy. I also feel healthy because I eat in moderation, make sure to eat fruits and veggies along with my grains, dairy, and protein, and try to maintain an active lifestyle. It just works for me. However, if that doesn't work for you, I wish you would stop making my choice in gluten sound as though I am choosing a death sentence. Recently I've heard and read the terms nasty, horrible, bad, unhealthy, poisonous, harmful, and toxic as descriptors of bread or wheat. I feel as if those who have made the choice to go gluten-free continue to hammer on the idea that if I chose to eat gluten I am damaging my body. Not so here. I am perfectly fine and healthy when I eat gluten and would attest to that fact by divulging that in the past at least 10 years, I've only had to go to the doctor twice due to illness.

Often, I liken this trend to any other trend. The way I feel a bit awkward wearing boot cut jeans in a crowd of skinny jeans. The way Wegmans made me feel dirty for purchasing regular yogurt instead of Chobani after they demoted the regular yogurt to the bottom corner of a shelf and filled the rest of it with Greek yogurt. The way people looked at me as if I was crazy when I declared that I hated Lady Gaga when she was first all the rage.

The point is that we all make our own choices, and eating ALL foods is one that I've made. Let me enjoy my food. Don't make me feel bad about that when I shouldn't have to feel that way.

What do you think about food trends? Are they really as healthy as the media makes them out to be? Do you follow food trends?

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