Fast Food, Bacon and Nutrition

baconBacon is healthier…

than sausage patties dripping with oil.

This is what was going through my mind as I browsed the menu at the fast food restaurant. But how did I get to this place anyway? How did a naturopath who is very aware of how to eat healthy end up at a fast food drive-through thinking such things?

The same way we all do. We have all found ourselves in less than ideal situations. Perhaps you were invited to dinner or tea at a friend’s house or you registered for a conference with “lunch included”. Perhaps you are travelling late at night and can’t find anywhere to stop and eat. Or perhaps, like me, you were just running late.

Last week I hurried out the door to teach a class and realized I had forgotten to eat anything. Remembering that the class was going to be at least four hours long I realized I would need to stop very quickly and get something to get me through the class. My options were limited because of time. This should be a simple process. There are numerous drive-through restaurants and cafes between my house and the place I was teaching at. But the amount of difficulty I had making a decision made me realize how much “garbage” there was in my mind that I needed to clear out first.

Even though I have studied natural healing and nutrition for more than 25 years I still had trouble shutting out the popular media messages that were telling me what to do. Somehow, 25-years of study could not shut out the messages that were running through my head:

1. McDonald’s is always bad. That’s not an option.

2. Bacon is bad. Don’t order that bacon sandwich.

3. Green tea is good for you. Perhaps order that with your food.

4. Gluten is not good. What are my non-gluten options?

5. Eggs are not healthy. What can I get for breakfast without eggs or just the whites?

6. Perhaps I should just grab a “healthy” muffin.

At the same time my educated brain was answering back:

1. Logically, you can’t rule out McDonald’s. Their oatmeal is actually healthier than any of the coffees on the Starbucks menu and has a lot less sugar. The oats, nuts and dried fruit are a plus and the sugar factor is only part of the equation. Another plus is that it does not contain a lot of oil, processed meat, caffeine or other things that make me feel awful. It’s not really that healthy, but it is better than some of the other choices.

2. Bacon may not be the healthiest item on earth but that doesn’t make the sausage breakfast sandwich any better. In fact the bacon sandwich with the measly little strip of dry bacon on it is probably better than that sausage patty that is dripping with oil and who knows what else.

3. Green tea is only good for people who don’t have major issues with caffeine like I and so many other people do.

4. Gluten may not be ideal but if it is combined properly with protein and some herbal tea it can actually be much easier to digest. Proper combining is so important!

5. Eggs have been a healthy staple in the whole-foods human diet for thousands of years and the brief theory that they were not healthy was disproved by scientists who realized that what was found in the white of the egg actually helps balance what one finds in the yolk of the egg to create a well-balanced, healthy meal.

6. It has been proven time and time again that the most muffins actually contain more sugar than a candy bar and that they are not any healthier than a piece of cake (with frosting).

And, finally, I could make a nice healthy herbal tea with nettles, alfalfa and mint when I got home to counteract most of what I might have done “wrong” to my body in the morning.

And this was only one “internal conversation”.

It got me thinking – what happens to people who are not studying about nutrition and natural healing? Do they eat according to what these subtle media messages are feeding them? Are they choosing the green tea or sugary coffee and greasy sausage sandwich at Starbucks to avoid McDonalds or bacon? Are they eating the “healthy” muffin instead of the egg sandwich because they think it is better for their body? Or are they completely unaware – eating whatever tastes good to them? Either option is frightening.

Ultimately, this brief experience renewed my passion for continuing my education on the subject. Even though I am a professor, naturopath and master herbalist I feel that one never finishes learning about the subjects – there is always more to learn. It also helped made me realize that nobody is immune to popular media. If I, who barely watches TV and is hardly exposed to popular magazines, has this level of influence from the media then it could happen to anyone. Our education does not shield what our subconscious mind picks up – but it does make us able to stop, think clearly and make decisions based on knowledge and need instead of hype.

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