Is the Real Key to Weight Loss Found in Old World Living?
Your Grocery Choices Are Making You Fat
If you are one of those people that loves to shop for groceries, simply for the joy of having lots of exotic, tasty foods in the fridge, freezer and cabinets at home, how does this contribute to weight gain? Grocery shopping is a uniquely satisfying shopping experience that has emotional incentives that rival all other forms of shopping. When you are shopping for anything else like clothes, a new car, or cleaning supplies, the products have practical value, but they are also built to last.
Groceries satisfy our most fundamental need for food. At the same time, we know they won’t last, and we will have to repeat the process in a few days or weeks anyway. This, along with the fact that groceries are relatively inexpensive compared to all the other basic necessities of life that we must buy, makes the food shopping experience one that can be uniquely satisfying and fulfilling
The more you shop for variety and taste however, the more you tend to need to be a good cook as well to make use of such foods. Preparing high quality meals takes time and planning, (which is what has created the vast interest in restaurant dining for lazy or inept cooks, since essentially the dawn of civilization). As you expand your meal range you also expand the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. And the more time you spend in the kitchen, generally the better the food is that you eat at home. This leads to one inevitable conclusion: The more appealing the food you eat is, the more likely you are to consume more of it at each meal. (If our grocery stores sold nothing but broccoli, cabbage and pickled herring, how hard would it be for any of us to lose weight?)
So weight gain seems to be tied inextricably into how well we eat. This goes contrary to many popular conceptions about weight gain however. We are told by the media that good, nutritious meals, with a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and meats, are the healthiest way to live. We are also told that weight gain is often a product of poor eating, where we rely too much on fast food, or foods that are prepared ahead of time. These boxed, dried and canned meals often contain ingredients to make them taste better, like added fat, MSG and high fructose corn syrup, which encourage us to keep buying them.
Eating out and eating previously prepared foods at home as well as grocery shopping itself tend to go hand in hand as a triple slap to the problem of weight gain. Is there any way to avoid such traps in day to day living? The temptation for fast food is mirrored in the home by “fast food” preparations the food industry has engineered for us for decades, ready in 20 seconds in the microwave.
Even if you can avoid many of these common pitfalls of a modern diet, just the vast variety of affordable foods alone and a inclination towards gourmet cooking can make you another fat replica of Julia Childs, or a gradual weight gainer like Rachel Ray. Remember when Rachel Ray was a svelte, sexy cook you couldn’t take your eyes off of? Who can blame her for putting on the flab over the years however, with the foods at her disposal in the typical American grocery store, and the knowledge she has of whipping up amazing meals?
Is there any way to grocery shop and avoid putting yourself into such a tempting situation at home? Societies that have less diverse diets like many rural Asian ones, tend to focus on local markets that sell only fresh vegetables and fish. This naturally keeps their weight in check through nearly no effort of their own.
No one except die hard vegetarians really has any interest in following such a diet by sheer willpower. We want our delicious, fatty steaks, our pizza rolls, and our home made peanut butter cookies. We’ve worked hard, why shouldn’t we be able to buy and cook what we want, even if it causes us to slowly slide into the clinically obese section of the height and weight scale? There's something wrong with the numbers in that scale right, not with us?
The vast diversity of foods available in any typical western grocery store is itself a testament to generations of agricultural and food industry innovation to get these products to us in healthy, low cost, large volumes. Its something we are innately proud of, and it makes us feel wealthy, as compared to poorer countries where grocery store shelves can often be bare. Who doesn’t remember the nearly empty shelves in Moscow grocery stores that were pictured in the news as the Soviet Union slowly collapsed years ago?
With the privileges of wealth always come risks of abuse. We can’t restrict our diet by demanding that thousands of tasty items be removed from grocery store shelves, so we must do it ourselves, by simplifying what we buy and keep in the home. Your grocery store may be a first world wonder, but to eat healthy, your cabinets at home have to be a second world picture of simplicity and austerity.
If our shelves contain mostly fresh foods that spoil quickly if not eaten first we're better off. (Foods should spoil like nature intended - do you really trust a jar of peanut butter that can stay edible on a shelf for 20 years?)
Transitioning to local, fresh and organic food is hard. Its taking a step back, saying the wonders of modern civilization, along with all the chemicals we use to make it look wondrous, may not be so good for us after all. But if you do make it back to second world living you will be able to sidestep some of the fatty fat fat illusion hidden in barely readable food labels in the modern grocery store.
Today's well stocked grocery store can be evil. Its evil because it tempts you with Ho Hos for 99c a box, where that not so appealing musk melon down the aisle lays neglected, rapidly rotting away before your very eyes. Choose the musk melon. Trust me. You'll be happier that you did. Just don't let it sit around uneaten for six days. And buy some bananas, even if you don't like them. That doesn't matter. They are there to be bought, and thrown out when they rot in the car before you get them home.