Health Hazards · 28 February 2013

Reading and eating can be hazardous to your health. Or they can save you.

Now more than ever, it seems that diet books cover the shelves of bookstores and libraries. Most of them cater to the notion that we can just change one small thing in our diet and get skinny. That we can eat whatever we want and lose pounds by subscribing to a certain restrictive eating regime or just taking a pill. Unfortunately, the old saying is right. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. False that is. Most of the outrageous claims people make to promote books are false and their diet plans offer no long term health benefits.

The truth is that we need to change our mindset about health. We need to understand that restricting calories is neither satisfying nor healthy beyond a certain point. We need to figure out that most weight loss plans are doomed to failure because they leave out the most important parts – long term health and nutrition.

Some of the books I have read in the past sounded great, but the counterclaims were too logical to ignore. Others had empty promises. Most resulted in an empty stomach and regained weight. That is why we need to be careful what we read. Especially, if we intend to follow the advice.

Even without consistent messages, I have still read over the years that we really are what we eat. It is not just a saying. When we eat junk food – food without many nutrients but lots of calories – we become junk. When we eat healthy foods, we get healthy.

More recently, I have come to understand that the more processed foods are, the less healthy they are. And the more whole and natural a food is, the healthier it is. Fruits and vegetables have always been good for us regardless of what style of eating we try. And meat and dairy may not be as healthy as those industries would have us believe. At least in the large quantities people like to eat them. These are consistent messages in all the noise, confusion, and inconsistencies of the books on the shelves.

Even with all the conflicting information out there, I have still made two important decisions about my eating. Limiting meat and dairy is probably the second most important one I have made over the past six months. Working to get away from eating processed foods, especially sugar, is both the most important and most difficult.

I have come to these conclusions and learned these important lessons from reading.

When it comes right down to our health, and all of life really, reading is as important as eating. Both can save us. And unfortunately, both can be hazardous to our health.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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