On nutrition

I’ve written a number of times about fatness and obesity. I don’t think it’s wrong to be either one of those, but I do think there is a moral argument that underpins the necessity to attempt to avoid being those things. You get one life. I think people should give it quality.

Of course, this doesn’t mean a person can’t enjoy something other than a diet half-salad once in awhile. That’s why the political (and often dishonest) arguments against drives like Michelle Obama’s pro-fitness efforts bother me so much. It’s also why I really like this post from Mike:

See what I’m getting at? Guess how much guilt I felt eating that [“prime”] burger the other week… that’s right, none. That’s because I don’t eat that way very often. My diet consists of whole grains, seeds and nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. I watch my portions carefully. That means that now and again, I can splurge. And it just so happens that last week I was in Oklahoma City for a concert with some friends, and we grabbed some McDonald’s beforehand. I had a Big Mac, and it tasted awesome (not remotely as good as the prime burger, but still tasty). On the way back to Tulsa, I got hungry and had McDonald’s again… a grilled chicken sandwich. It also tasted good and I’ve lived through the experience.

This is what a lot of people don’t realize about nutrition. Eating right doesn’t mean avoiding every bad thing out there every second of every day. A person’s health doesn’t hinge on a single meal. A proper diet takes place over time; it’s an ongoing effort. Grabbing that doughnut once in awhile isn’t a sign of hypocrisy for someone who advocates eating well. (More importantly, we shouldn’t dismiss an argument simply due to hypocrisy. Think about it: If a serial killed said murder is wrong, would anyone reject the truth of his argument?) It’s perfectly possible to be healthy and enjoy life at the same time.

Pizza and potatoes for all!

I have been doing what I refer to as a 5-5-5 plan. It’s actually known as 5X5 training, but I like telling people that I’m as excited about my 5-5-5 plan as conservatives were about Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan a few weeks ago – the difference is that my plan will be effective. But I digress.

Part of my plan includes eating. A lot. I’ve already put on 5 pounds in a little over a week and I expect to add another 5-10 pounds by the time I’m done in a month or so. This is roughly in line with the average lives of most Americans except that my weight gain is controlled. And zero of it is fat. I can do this plan for two primary reasons: 1) I am regularly working out (and I have seen strength gains already) and 2) I’m not eating a bunch of shitty food. Not that I’m opposed to tastiness, but the majority of what I consume throughout the day has good nutritional value, including lots of protein.

Now, if I was to stop working out while continuing my food intake levels, I would put on a bunch of fat. Even with a favorable metabolism and youth on my side, I wouldn’t be able to avoid it. But I wouldn’t do that to myself because I value my health, unlike most Americans. In fact, the valuing of health in America is so low that Congress actually wants to continue the practice of effectively calling pizza a vegetable:

The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year, which included limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line and delaying limits on sodium and delaying a requirement to boost whole grains.

The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. USDA had wanted to prevent that.

It’s unclear if this relates to the healthy eating bill Michelle Obama lobbied to get passed not too long ago, but it’s shitty any way you slice it. And speaking of slicing, guess which groups were most active in this effort to keep kids fat?

Food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes, and some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.

Shocking, I know.

So let me summarize what happened: a number of businesses that live off government purchases want to keep doing so and the party that lives off donations from businesses like these said sure. Very pragmatic.

But what isn’t pragmatic is the ideology that underlies much of this. Republicans believe that the government should stay out of telling kids what to eat*, but that is either a fundamentally dishonest or fundamentally stupid argument. The government is footing the bill. It can restrict whatever it damn well pleases, just as it restricts prepared foods and (in at least some states) energy drinks from being purchased with food stamps. I fail to see why anyone thinks there is a fundamental right to eating pizza and potatoes.

But by all means, let’s keep feeding kids bad food. Think of all the benefits. No longer will “the fat kid” get bullied and mocked – it isn’t easy to go after half the class. And with this generation of 20-somethings being the most educated group in history, there will be plenty of jobs for them in the health care industry as more and more kids develop diabetes. And as airplanes and stadiums and movie theaters and any place with seats grow older, they will need to be replaced with bigger and wider places to sit. That’s going to be a windfall for manufacturers and maybe even the construction industry. If anything, The Obese Generation is going to be a boon for the minority of people who won’t be on disability in the coming years.

*In fact, Republicans believe the government should stay out of everything. Unless it’s a social issue on which Christianity has an opinion.

Fighting obesity

Laziness and greed are cloaked in “liberty” and “freedom” by fundamentally stupid and effectively bad people like Sarah Palin and many of her fellow Republicans, but sometimes pragmatic, common-sense ideas are still able to break through the bullshit.

US lawmakers on Thursday passed a 4.5-billion-dollar bill that will give more US kids school meals and let the government set child nutrition guidelines.

The bill pledges 4.5 billion dollars over 10 years to child nutrition programs, increases the reimbursement paid to schools by the federal government for free meals provided to children, and expands access to school lunches and after-school meals.

It also allows the US Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools, including in coin-operated vending machines, and provides money for school gardens and farm-to-school programs.

The most common legitimate objection to this bill is that it might not help in the fight to keep kids from getting fat and disgusting. But a quick look at the facts ought to remove such an objection: Most kids are going to eat between 160-180 lunches a year at school. They’re going to eat a total of about 1100 meals a year. That’s (conservatively) about 15% of a kid’s meals every year. I would say that making those 160-180 meals healthy is a good and it will make a notable difference. And if that wasn’t enough goodness, this bill also provides for kids who otherwise go without or, at best, with something even less healthy than the shitty Lunchables every other kid gets for lunch.

Or we could just be polemic assholes and feed them plates of cookies, a la Palin.