(and Other Questionable Rationales for Unhealthy Eating)
My dear reader, I am certain that you have never used the reasoning that is reflected in the title of this post. But perhaps a friend or associate has insisted as much? If so, read on. Maybe you can save your cohort from himself.
Of course, in exploring the logic behind such statements, we find them to be somewhat lacking in rationality. After all, your cells don’t know (or care) what your neighbor eats—they just know whether they have enough organosulfur compounds (found in onions and garlic, for instance) to slow tumor growth or aromatase inhibitors (mushrooms, cruciferous veggies, etc.) to help prevent breast cancer.
Maybe you carefully chose baked chicken while hubby recklessly ordered fried? Never mind, because your body doesn’t make comparisons; it just knows that animal foods are nutrient-poor, and even baked chicken gives those trendy free radicals plenty to work with. In fact, without enough antioxidants to quell their reproduction, they’re running a campaign to turn all their comrades into free radicals.
“But I had a healthy breakfast!”
Yes, AND if the next meal you eat isn’t loaded with the thousands of phytochemicals found in fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds, well, your cells have already used up the last batch to safely metabolize breakfast. Your microscopic organelles don’t know or care what you had for breakfast—they just know whether they have what they need right now to minimize the oxidative stress wrought by free radicals. Better choice? Minimize the creation of reactive oxygen species by consuming a nutrient-dense lunch (like a Huge Mega Salad with Beans).
“Well, it might have been salty and oily but at least it was vegan!”
Alas, vegan does not always equal nutrient-dense (Oreos, anyone?). For a food to be considered nutrient-dense (or high-nutrient or nutritarian), it must have a lot of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals) per calorie. Unfortunately, most packaged vegan foods don’t fall into this category, and consuming empty-calorie food (vegan or otherwise) creates the perfect conditions for premature aging and disease (like heart disease, cancer, and dementia).
The next time you hear yourself, er, I mean your friend, utter some specious excuse for eating unhealthy food, don’t tell him, “You shouldn’t eat that.” Instead, gently assist him in deconstructing his flawed logic bit by bit. If all goes well, your compatriot will experience the discomfort wrought by cognitive dissonance, for it is this very discomfort that impels us to change.
Eat well and be well!
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