Friday, November 7, 2008

The Crackpot Nutritionist

Sometimes all I want is a hot dog and a pile of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese. It may all be questionable in origin, and it may be a little nutritionally unsound, but growing up in a working-class household, this was the weekend lunch of champions. That, or grilled cheese and tomato soup. Meals at our house frequently centered around whatever meat was on sale that week surrounded by side dishes that some folks would consider plebeian: mashed potatoes, minute rice, green beans, broccoli with the occasional slice of American cheese melted on it. My best friend Cari always wanted to eat dinner at my house because we had "identifiable" foods. Her dad is a great cook, but quite the foodie, and Cari had no interest in vichyssoise or tomato-basil reductions with everything. I guess we had the classics at our house.

I enjoy eating healthy. I also enjoy eating un-healthy. I love all kinds of food, and sometimes I realize just how much more I know about than some people, all thanks to 18 years with type 1.

I remember having trouble with nutrition lessons in health or home ec at school because the teacher was trying to instruct the otherwise inexperienced class on the 4 Food Groups, and I think at least once I talked with a teacher saying, "Well, I have to eat differently, and I break my food groups down into starches, proteins, fats, fruits/veggies, dairy and free foods!" Teachers were sometimes confused at this, but when it came down to the lessons in which we needed to read food labels, I was awesome.

If someone were to ask me what a good diet should be, I'd say well-balanced eating with plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies. But that doesn't mean you should deprive yourself of the occasional treat, whether you're diabetic or not. However, I like a lot of stuff that some people think are the worst foods ever: Splenda, white bread, pasta, ice cream, pizza, burgers, fries. I can't always tear myself away from the processed stuff because I find it delicious.

My inner dietitian gets a little peeved when people say things about food that are just not true, especially people who think they know a lot about food. I can be a nerd for food stats if the conditions are right. Someone, and I don't feel like naming names right now, was saying something the other day about the protein-richness of beans which led me to believe that:

1. She thought a serving of beans had just as much protein as a serving of meat.
2. She thought all beans are equally rich in protein.

From what I can find quickly on Calorie King, the only cooked beans with just as much protein as a serving of meat is a serving of edamame, clocking in at 22 grams of protein, which explains why those darned things are so filling. (But does it explain their deliciousness? Not necessarily! They just are!) Many other beans, like black beans, kidney beans, etc., seem to have between 6 and 10 grams of protein in a serving. Compared with a serving of chicken breast, which according to Calorie King has about 16g of protein, that's not a lot of protein. And what's your definition of bean? Green beans don't have much substance at all when it comes to protein!

She was also trying to argue for the amount of protein in chicken broth, which is there, but not much--3g according to my research.

I know these kinds of things come up just because of inexperience, but I just get peeved at anyone who says, "Oh, but it's so good for you!" without any logical basis for their argument. I think hearsay and nutrition information don't belong together, and sometimes, I feel a little uptight because of it.

I also get annoyed at people who always blot their pizza no matter how much grease is on top of it, people who tell me I'm going to get cancer because I like Equal/Splenda, and the people who made those "High Fructose Corn Syrup isn't at all bad" PSAs. (LOL, VP-Elect and Delaware rep Joe Biden apparently says HFCS is more likely to kill Americans than terrorists!)

So does all of this make me some kind of Nutritional Snob?


  1. MMmmmmm.... grilled cheese with ketchup.... mmmmmmmmm...

  2. Ah, the food police. Ya gotta love 'em :) I grew up on the same things you did, and lived to tell. And if I had a dollar for every time someone told me my Diet Coke addiction would kill me, well...!

  3. I don't know if that makes you a snob, but whatever it makes you, I'm one too because I'm of the same mind as you on just about all of the above. To add to what you're saying about beans, no matter that edamame has a lot of protein, it's still an incomplete protein, missing an essential amino acid to make it a complete protein. Those lessons on the 4 food groups bored me to tears - it was nutrition for dummies as far as I was concerned. Everyone knows fruits and veggies go in different food groups! I won't eat Kraft mac-n-cheese because occasionally I draw a line somewhere, but I ate a ridiculous amount growing up. Instead, oh, how I love and enjoy an occasional bacon cheeseburger and fries. Hmm... I haven't had one of those in a while either, and I don't think we live all that far from each other...

  4. As the aforementioned person with the foodie parents, it drives them bonkers that--given a choice, I will ALWAYS take Velveeta mac over home-made.

    Remember those glorious "white trash nites" when we'd gorge ourselves on cheesy poofs, slim jims and diet soda? Mmmm...cheesy poofs.

  5. I grew up on mac & cheese and other "classic foods". It's only as I've gotten older that I have started to eat somewhat healthier.
    I don't think that you are a food snob.
    People are just weird. I figure if I want the occasional order of chicken nuggets from McDonald's (is it REALLY chicken???) then I can have it.


Remember to use your commenting powers for good, not evil. Excelsior!