There’s a new villain in town, and its name is Bread. Don’t be caught red-handed with a piece of baguette or (shudder) a sandwich. The latest nutritional advice is not to avoid that old nemesis Fat. Fat just put on the white hat and tossed the reins of unhealthiness to those scoundrels, the Carbohydrates.
If this sounds like a bad spaghetti Western, that’s because the public is tired of all the flip-flopping on nutritional wisdom in recent years.
I remember when a low fat diet was considered the way to go to avoid heart disease and cancer. Saturated fat, as found in butter, eggs and red meat, was the culprit to avoid along with its chemical cousin trans fat. While trans fat is still considered a villain, nutrition advisers seem to be easing up on their low fat recommendations. It’s enough to make Euell Gibbons turn over in his grave!
I would be fine with this more moderate approach if the same conventional wisdom wasn’t messing with my carbs! All societies since ancient times have relied on grains for their very subsistence. Bread and rice in particular are the staple of cultures worldwide.
Even in the Bible, bread is shown to be the very stuff of life. The Hebrew Scriptures assert, “Man does not live by bread alone.” And Jesus was known to have claimed, “I am the bread of life.” Such imagery speaks to the centrality of grains in the human diet.
While it is certainly true that eliminating an entire food group such as carbohydrates from one’s diet will result in weight loss, such a drastic regimen is probably not the healthiest thing. One of the problems with diets such as Atkins and South Beach is that without adequate carbs, the body goes into ketosis, putting a strain on organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Modern Americans are frustrated by their inability to lose weight or control such conditions as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We are continually searching for the right recipe to bring all these health factors into a reasonable equilibrium. Unfortunately, we are only too willing to take the latest report or study and go whole hog, so to speak, now eliminating fats, now banning carbs. None of these approaches has the entire answer to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Moderation is the key to balance in most areas of life. The problem is that moderation isn’t sexy. It doesn’t create new food fads or newspaper headlines. There is a cottage industry of gluten free foods that might go bust if we come to our senses and just try to eat a little bit less of everything.
In the meantime, I intend to enjoy my bread. I guess now with the new guidelines on fat consumption, I can add a little butter to it.