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I simply do not understand why eating has become so complicated, but here’s my theory. Food distribution is big business and, therefore, over-commercialized. Research scientists conduct studies, report conflicting results, and, in most cases, conclude with the determination that more studies are needed. In the meantime, weight management is big business as well, not to mention plastic surgery, cosmetics and a clothing style shift for those who, understandably, have given up on dietary change as the solution.

I tried going vegan, but the accompaniment to my vegetable and bean dishes tended to be rice, pasta, bread and potatoes. Too much of that gets me into trouble. So now, I am trying the high-protein approach. Then, today,  I read an article entitled “Why Does a Cow Become Beef,” which is an interesting story albeit somewhat disturbing. It explains the theory behind how we describe our cuisine; for example, literally as cow or euphemistically as beef. According to the article, this dates back to England in 1066 when the French Normans become the ruling class over the English-speaking Anglo Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon farmers and hunters provided the source of the food, using the literal nomenclature when referring to cow, pig, sheep and chicken whereas the French elite dined on beef, pork, veal and poultry. The reason is obvious. “Calling a dead cow beef is just one of the many ways ‘animals are made absent through language’.” Would you care for a side dish of guilt with your meat?

That story aside, I think the high-protein approach is working well, except for the dream I had the other night of devouring a decadent chocolate cake. It’s fascinating how you can actually have a sense of taste in your dreams. Now if someone tells me, “May all your dreams come true,” it takes on a whole new meaning.

A major issue with food in the U.S. is the overwhelming amount of choice we have. In “Then Just Stay Fat,” Shannon Sorrels cleverly interjects humor with the cold, hard truth. Like the author, I worked in the fitness industry years ago and felt frustration with all the excuses people gave for not committing to a program, myself included. However, understanding the temptation in plain sight, Sorrels states, “Think about how crazy we look to starving countries. We have food everywhere – literally everywhere. Food so cheap you wonder how they make a profit.” The author not only gives tough love to her readers, she rips through the medical media who extract tidbits from the latest studies, conclusive or not, to market their programs, products and magic pills.

In “Gut,” Giulia Enders, a German writer and scientist, explains bodily functions that fall under the category of I-always-wanted-to-know-but-was-afraid-to-ask. She talks about how different foods trigger unique reactions in the body. “Satiety signal transmitters increase considerably when we eat the food our [good] bacteria prefer…those foods do not include pasta and white bread.” The author also states, “Sugar is the only substance our body can turn into fat with little effort.” After reading this book, I decided to leave that chocolate cake in my dreams where it belongs.

OK, so maybe I do understand why eating is so complicated. This reminds me of the old joke, “I have been reading so much about the bad effects of smoking, I have decided to give up…reading.” The same can be said of food, but I don’t plan to stop studying  nutrition. More importantly, I will pay close attention to my body’s response to different foods because I truly believe in the nexus between diet and health, though the precise reactions vary from one person to another. It’s a simple as that…and as complicated.