The media is telling me that everything I eat is bad for me.

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Hello. I just got through reading your very informative web page! Nice job.

I have a question that I’m sure you can answer. Lately, everywhere I turn people and the media are telling me that everything that I eat is bad for me! From sugar is poison, to fat is bad, to that chocolate bar I had yesterday is going to kill me eventually.

I, on the other hand, think I have done pretty well with a nice balance. I abide by the philosophy “everything in moderation”. I’ve realized that when my body has a craving it’s trying to tell me something! So if I want to have that slice of cake, I do simply because I don’t have it every day and I’m not going to eat the entire cake! Generally, my habits are good with a few backslide now and them. In the warmer months, I eat several times a day perhaps from 4-5 small “munchie” meals. In the colder months, well I tend to slack and eat 2-3 times a day often forgoing a morning meal and generally eating around noon and then two more times later in the day. I don’t count my calories but I eat a lot of vegetables (broccoli, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini), The main meat in my diet is chicken which I either stir fry in corn oil or bake (The fry on rare occasions). I eat pasta once or twice a week, I have potatoes, bread and cereals about three-four times a week. I drink 2% milk and a quart last me 1-1/2 weeks. I eat eggs very rarely (less than 1 a month) UNLESS I’ve used it in a baking product. I also eat tuna or some kind of fish at least once a month. My red meat intake is rather low. I cook it for myself perhaps once a month unless I indulge and have a Big Mac at McDonald’s (along with that order of fries). I drink about 3-4 glasses of water a day and generally mix in fruit drinks and soda throughout the week. As far as caffeine goes I rarely drink coffee and have tea once in a while (perhaps 4 times a month) I try to stick to healthy snacks like fruit, and unprocessed nuts. But I do eat sugary cereals when I do have a quick breakfast. And I indulge in chocolates and chips when I get the urge. I also rarely put salt on my food. I’m female, 24, 5’8″, 135lbs, with a smaller than average frame for my height. During daily activities, I probably walk about 1 mile a day carrying a 10 – 15-pound load (I’m a college student…books you know) and my job is mainly sedentary sitting at a computer. But I have another job where I’m on my feet for 20 hours a week. I have been exercising for about three months for 4 hours a week. I maintain my weight between 130-140lbs. I weigh on the higher end in the winter and the lower end in the summer. In all the checkups I’ve been on my cholesterol has never been an issue. Tell me, if I seem to be doing well on my eating habits as they are now? Do I really need to be concerned? If I’m hungry I eat. When I’m full I don’t. I feel I’ve achieved the perfect balance for my body and never deprive myself of what I want, but I never allow myself to overindulge for any length of time. If I’m using margarine is there any good reason why I can’t have some real cheese? I think I’ve found the omnivorous diet that suits me. I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. I’m tired of biting into a hot dog and having a lacto- ovo- telling me I’m shaving years off my life expectancy with every bite. Thank you!

It is confusing reading / watching conflicting messages in various print and visual media which often takes a degree in nutrition to sort through. First, few foods like polar bear liver can kill you and moderation in all foods is a healthy goal. There is no bad food and sugar is not poison. Some foods are more healthy to eat more often (i.e. lower fat, more fruits, vegetables, and grains). It is the number of unhealthy foods (i.e. high fat, high calorie) that is a bigger problem. This perspective though must be tempered by maintaining a healthy weight and daily exercise program.

What you describe is fine and my concerns are:
your low consumption of foods high in calcium (low-fat milk and cheese);
unprocessed nuts;
increased variety of meats.

Depending on the dairy products you are consuming, 1 quart of 2% milk in 1 or 1 1/2 weeks is just not enough to provide you with adequate calcium. You must not use much on the cereals you eat. You should be drinking 1 quart in 2 days. Since you are 24, your body is nearing its peak bone density of age 25 in females. After 25, you need to maintain calcium levels in your bones with calcium-rich foods, vitamin D, fluoride, and exercise. Without these components, calcium leaves your bones to maintain blood levels of calcium.to help muscles contract. So, keep your calcium bank (bones) rich by eating foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and fluoride along with daily exercise that puts pressure on your bones. Congrats on your exercise routine!

What do you mean by unprocessed nuts? Hopefully, you are not eating raw peanuts which contain a very potent carcinogen which is not found in the roasted or processed peanut.

While chicken is a good low-fat food if you don’t fry it or eat the skin, you need more meat variety in your food choices. Try turkey, fish more often than once a month and lean beef or pork.

FYI, food cravings are not necessarily stimulated by your body’s physical need for a nutrient. Some research has shown that women in the week before their menstrual period starts, increase their consumption of sweets like chocolate and desserts.

Both your winter and summer weights are in a healthy range for your height.

As to whether or not to eat cheese because you eat margarine, I would suggest you read the recent info on trans fatty acids in stick margarine. You may want to switch to a trans fatty acid-free stick margarine or switch to a tub margarine. There are lots of low-fat cheeses available in the grocery store and would be a calcium-rich food to add especially since you don’t drink much milk.

It is true that life expectancy is increased by living at a high altitude, staying active in your profession late in life, drinking a small amount of alcohol daily and eating a vegetarian diet. However, if you occasionally eat low fat or even regular hot dogs, I doubt that you are “shaving years off your life expectancy with every bite”.

Thanks for the feedback.