How to make good food choices

A healthy diet is about good food choices, not calorie counting or grams of fat. In our opinion, if you become obsessed with the numbers, you've missed the point, and turned mealtime into an unpleasant exercise in number-crunching.

That being said, we think a lot of people like numerical gimmicks. Systems. Whatever. So here's our.

What follows is a more wordy explanation of what to eat (or not) and why:
There is a collection of signs and symptoms that are the product of poor food choices these days. It goes by different names, like "Metabolic Syndrome" or "Syndrome X". We have even come across the variant "Cardiometabolic Syndrome" recently, as if that added anything worthwhile. We like "Syndrome X", because it kinda sounds like a hokey term dreamed up by some hack sci-fi writer. Regardless of the shifting terminology, though, or the pseudo-scientific smoke'n'mirrors of blaming umpteen different factors, there's only one you need to remember to assess your risk: excess blood sugar.

We're not saying that genetics, smoking, job-related stress or even sun spots don't play a role. But if you don't reign in the carbs, any other risk factors you control will just delay the inevitable.

So what are we saying? Basically, there are things we were never meant to eat. Arsenic. Cyanide. Processed starch and sugar. And we're not even being unfair listing these together. After all, in small enough doses, even arsenic and cyanide aren't deadly (apple seeds contain cyanide). And the same argument could and should apply to sugars and starches. You can't completely avoid them, anyway; even "low-carb" natural foods, animal or vegetable, contain small amounts of sugar and starch.

Think of it this way: there are certain nutrients that are ESSENTIAL. Meaning your body can't make them, so it has to get them from outside sources. There are essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6), and essential proteins (certain amino acids).

There are NO essential carbohydrates. Your body is quite capable of making all the sugar and starch it needs, no outsourcing required. You'll hear the hucksters blow smoke: "your cells run on sugar, so you need SOME".

Nonsense.

It's true that your body PREFERS to use glucose as a primary fuel source, which is why it makes and stores glycogen (starch) in the muscles and liver. Stored FAT is like a back-up diesel generator - only used if and when the main power source gets knocked out. The average adult will burn through about 40 grams of glycogen before it switches on the "backup generator", fat. That 40 grams is usually more than enough to get through a normal day, and as long as you take in that much sugar/starch daily, your body never cranks up the fat "generator". And as mentioned above, even "low-carb" natural foods contain SOME sugar and starch.

But if you DO burn a bunch of calories one day and start dipping into the fat reserves, you won't die. You won't even hurt yourself. You MIGHT feel a little out of sorts for a few days to a week while your body adjusts to temporarily burning ketones (fuel from fat), but then you'll be fine.

In fact, eventually you'll probably feel better than you did before. You'll probably have more energy. You'll start losing weight. Your blood pressure might drop. Your cholesterol numbers (especially HDL and triglycerides) will improve.

You probably won't regrow hair if you're bald; but then, you can't blame everything on "syndrome X".

Okay, so which foods are good, which are bad? Everybody knows things like candy, cookies, cake, etc are bad, no need to beat a dead horse there. The DANGEROUS foods are the ones you may not feel guilty about eating - you may have even been told they were "healthy". Examples include bread (even whole wheat), pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, cereal (even oatmeal), milk, and fruit juice. Do yourself a favor and forget about that stupid term "complex carbohydrates". And ignore the food pyramid scheme with starchy foods at the bottom - if someone told us it was designed by diabetes drug makers, it wouldn't be a surprise.

Here's the good news: meat, eggs, and (real) cheese are okay in moderate amounts. You shouldn't drink fruit juice, but fresh, raw fruits are okay (loads of fiber slows the sugar down). Fresh veggies (excluding corn and potatoes, of course) should make up the largest portion of your meals. Even beans, despite being "musical", aren't all that harmful.

When in doubt about any particular food, we recommend looking up detailed information on its nutritional content, either on its package label, or at this website.