Remember when First Lady Michelle Obama ordered a 1700 calorie meal at a Washington DC burger joint? The media was on fire with the irony. How could the founder of "Let's Move!" get caught eating the kind of meal that made Fast Food Nation the classroom text in the fight against obesity?
Leave it to the First Lady to turn the story into comedy for the White House Correspondents Dinner, or as it's frequently called, the Nerd Prom.
Raisins or not, what is it about ice cream that makes us sneak into the kitchen at night to sneak a scoop? And why on Earth would Burger King sell a bacon sundae? The answer: it's Food Porn.
Welcome to the "bliss point", processed food manufacturer's term for the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat that triggers your intense craving. These bliss point dishes can be prepared cheaply and shipped long distances. They turn you on, you can get them cheaply, and sooner or later they leave you with a medical condition. That's why I call it Food Porn.
Hence the invention of a bacon sundae: tons of sugar, salt, fat, preservatives, and lab created food coloring. And to many people, totally irresistible.
There is a different kind of "food porn", that's served by famous chefs and bakers at the finest Michelin rated restaurants. They use salt, fat, and sugar too, though not as much of it. But they also use fresh, local produce, spices, heat, and layers of texture and aromas to create their "sinfully delicious" food. A master chef would never rely on ridiculous quantities of sugar and salt, lab created flavorings, and a mountain of "cheese product" or high fructose corn syrup "toppings" to lure you into eating their food.
Back to the original question... Should Michelle Obama, CEO of Let's Move!, eat ice cream? Why not! I'm sure she doesn't gorge on it every day. And, she works out. (Care to arm wrestle?) But here's the crucial question:
When you eat things like ice-cream, do you consider it food?
Let's talk about what you classify as actual food, that you would serve not only yourself but your children or grandchildren. To be food, it should meet these basic requirements:
- It's edible. (ice-cream qualifies, so far.)
- It nourishes your body in some way.
- It grew from natural soil, water and air, or the food it ate before you ate it, grew that way.
- It does not contain lab-created flavorings, sweeteners, or coloring.
- It's not harmful to your brain, blood glucose levels, or gut when eaten frequently.
- It will rot within days or a couple of weeks if left out, because it is not full of preservatives.
If you use this as your definition of food, and eat mostly food, by this definition, you will make great strides in preventive health and nourishing your children to build strong bodies. And yes, there are some frozen dairy treats that pass this food definition test.
Sure, you can eat birthday cake on your kid's birthdays, or have a bacon cheeseburger (made with quality, hormone-free meat) on a business trip. Go ahead, let your dinner host give you a big dollop of real whipped cream. I know, I can hear the Paleo dieters shouting that it's never alright to eat wheat! But never is a promise that eludes most of us. So if you are healthy and not allergic, diabetic, or in the early phases of a weight loss diet, it's OK in my opinion to indulge now and then. Apparently, these occasional indulgences are alright with the CEO of Let's Move! too. It's not going to kill you, and you know when you've earned a treat.
Of course, here's where we get into trouble, gain an extra thirty pounds, and start suffering from leaky gut syndrome, high cholesterol and get poor outcomes on our blood glucose tests. We get into trouble when we succumb to cheap food porn. When we repeatedly eat stuff pumped full of additives, high fructose corn syrup, salt, saturated fats, and other things that fail to nourish us, and make us sick over time.
We buy all that stuff because the PICTURE looks likes real food, or the smell and taste combination triggers the part of our brains that go YEA FOOD PORN!! BACON SUNDAE!!! EAT!!!! That stuff is not food by our new definition. So, when you decide to have a portion of it, or serve it to your children, please stay fully aware that it is NOT food. It is food porn, eaten purely for fun. When consumed often, it will make most people sick, fat, tired, muddleheaded, and/or diabetic, and leave them craving more and more of it.