rats are ruining my life
By Debra LoGuercio
©Copyright 1999, Debra Lo Guercio, all rights reserved
I don't deny it: I have food issues. I
know my diet isn't exactly mainstream. There aren't many of us who stir a
few scoops of brewer's yeast into some V-8 and call it "breakfast." Nor do
I have much company standing in the dairy aisle, studying the margarine tubs
to find one without trans-fatty acids.
Eating has become so complicated. Maybe
I should just follow the advice my exasperated friends and family blurt
out when I'm suffering over a menu, fretting about veggies that are sautéed
in anything but olive oil, and asking for my salad dressing on the side
and to please make sure to remove the skin from the chicken: Just shut up
and eat a cheeseburger, for God's sake.
Easy for you to say. Food leads to death!
Haven't you read Prevention lately?
That sinister little rag. Its headlines
scream things like "Five Common Foods That Will Stop Your Heart!" and "Will
Sugar Kill You In Your Sleep?" Read Prevention long enough and nothing will
ever again pass through your lips without intense scrutiny.
Over time though, I noticed a pattern. I
saw through Prevention's veneer of helpful health advice. They announce a
big breakthrough, like artichokes prevent breast cancer. Once that hits the
stands, they get their researchers cracking to find out how artichokes can
kill you. Just when you've adapted to eating your cereal with artichoke juice
instead of milk and spreading artichoke paste on your bread instead of peanut
butter, the latest Prevention arrives to inform you just in time that artichokes
cause permanent kidney damage.
From a marketing angle, it's genius. You
must keep buying Prevention to stay current on all the foods that are lethal.
Don't stop subscribing! Without us, you'll never know when that innocent-looking
apple might release its poisons and liquefy your pancreas! Sure we'll renew
your subscription for two more years.
Ah, the sweet taste of ka-ching.
Mind you, it's not just Prevention. Dueling
experts sing their discordant songs wherever you look. Don't eat red meat.
It's a heart attack on a plate. Eat red meat. High protein is where it's
at. A glass of wine prevents cancer. Avoid wine, it causes cancer. One "expert"
says load up on carbohydrates. Do so, warns another "expert," and you'll
have hips like a pregnant buffalo.
Take coffee. After years of unsuccessfully
trying to wean myself from my beloved beverage, they've discovered that
coffee prevents cancer. That is until the next generation of laboratory
rats, force-fed nothing but espresso beans their entire lives, all die early
painful deaths when their little tickers burst in their tiny chests, proving
indisputably that caffeine causes heart disease.
Maybe we'd live longer if we killed all
the laboratory rats.
With all the conflicting information heaped
upon us by the scientific community, how can you keep it straight? Even
if you could, you still can't win. Health boost one day, health bane the
next. Grocery shopping has become a nightmare. Was it the green lentils
or the brown ones that prevent colon cancer? No, no, it wasn't lentils. It
was blueberries. Oh dear, I'm not even in the right aisle. Can I even buy
blueberries in September? What if they're all out? Will my colon fill with
poison and burst before morning if I don't find blueberries?
It's a wonder we don't all end up perched
on top of the potato bin in the produce section, waving a cucumber like
a Jedi light saber, shrieking, "I'm not coming down until someone brings
me blueberries! I must have my anti-oxidants!"
Such could have been my fate, explaining
to the men in white coats as they pluck me from atop the potatoes that it
wasn't my fault, that the laboratory rats made me do it. But last week, my
reality check finally got cashed.
There I was on the couch, sipping my third
cup of healthful, cancer-preventing black coffee, and CNN comes out with
the list of 10 foods that will keep you healthy. Eat these foods and you'll
live a long life, the latest research shows. Included on the list were -
GASP -- eggs and chocolate.
Great, just great. Two of my favorite foods,
which I've avoided for decades in the interest of good health, and now I
find out I should have been eating them all along. So. Eggs don't cause high
cholesterol after all, they say. They're chock-full of vitamins. And chocolate
is a powerful anti-oxidant they say. It prevents 37,000 forms of cancer.
Make them a part of your daily diet they say.
You mean I could have been enjoying lovely,
warm, runny sunny-side-ups all these years for breakfast instead of that
gritty, nasty, tomato-yeast crap I've been gulping down? I could have leaned
back and savored sweet, thick Hershey's Kisses melting over my tongue instead
of crunching on carrot sticks? Not only could have been but should have been?
I want to hurt somebody.
I want to slap a scientist. I want to snatch
one of those wretched little laboratory rats from its wretched little cage
and bite its wretched little head off. Who knows, maybe rat heads are high
in fiber. When you see it in Prevention, remember you read it here first.
Enough. I'm declaring my independence from
nutritional "experts" and scientists and their little rats too. Every single
copy of Prevention (yes, they're all carefully logged and stacked on my
shelves) goes in the dumpster. Along with the brewer's yeast and the soy
milk and the ginkgo biloba and the flaxseed.
After that, I'm sitting down and doing something
good for my body. I'm going to eat chocolate-covered scrambled eggs till