The other day, Ray made a pot roast in the slow cooker. When I got home with the smell permeating the house, I bounced around like the happy puppy I knew I was. Is it just me or does anyone else love the way the house smells when dinner is cooking?

I’m not a good cook but I’m a great eater.

It’s kinda like moaning during sex. There are certain audio signals you give your partner to let he or she know they should keep on doing whatever it is they’re doing. If you’re a good cook and I have the privilege to sample what’s on your table, you’ll know that you’re, in my culinary world, bringing sexy back. (Think Meg Ryan in When Harry met Sally — “I’ll have what she’s having.”)

As a young adult, I was tall and rather slight. When I got older and started to “fill out”, I came to the realization that what I ate was important. I also concluded that exercise was equally important to maintaining not only a trim physique but a comfortable quality of life as well.

I eat very well. I have to give credit to Ray for that. He’s an exceptional cook. We both shy away from processed foods and things that require a flavor pak.  I run and I workout too. Nothing gets me more pissed off when people say, “Must be nice to be so thin.” I smile real big and tell them, “Thanks! It’s fucking awesome!”

Some people address my physique as if it’s this self-maintaining thing that I was blessed with. It isn’t. First of all, if I do carry extra weight, it’s in my neck and my belly. Nothing is worse than a poor distribution of fat. Some people can carry a few extra pounds and no one notices. Not me. 10 pounds and my head looks like Jabba the Hut. 10 more pounds and I’m a toothpick with an olive in the middle.

So I run, workout and limit my alcohol intake. (Now that’s hard!) I don’t eat dessert, shy away from French fries, hardly ever touch soda and avoid partially hydrogenated anything, MSG and high fructose corn syrup.

It isn’t easy. I want a third martini! I want a bacon cheeseburger (swiss) with extra mayo for my fries! I want to LIVE at Taco Bell!! I want to polish off a bag of Doritos and chase it down with a Big Gulp Dr. Pepper (unleashing Satan’s belch from hell afterward) and don’t give me any of this diet crap. Tastes like shit! Give me the real deal.

Can I just say that there is nothing, nothing I love more than dipping steak fries into a large blob of mayonnaise?

Maintaining a healthy diet is hard. There are so many overweight people in this country. When we were traveling through Europe last September, twice, other European travelers mentioned (in a rather shocked tone) that we seemed so thin for Americans.

I used to turn my nose up at all the overweight people in the US. I used to think that these paunchy peeps were just too lazy to maintain a healthy diet. Then something eye-opening happened.

There is a theory that it’s best to shop mostly around the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where the produce, bakery, meats and dairy sections are. Ray and I hardly ever buy something pre-made or in a can.  All that stuff tends to be in the center aisles.

One day, we were at Safeway. Ray was making the rounds and, out of curiosity, I started roaming the center aisles. I picked up a jar of McCormick® Tartar Sauce and read the ingredients. It contained high-fructose corn syrup! I started inspecting the items on the shelves. Most everything either had partially hydrogenated oil, MSG and/or high fructose corn syrup!

When did MSG come back into fashion?

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website,

“Over the years, the FDA has received many anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions — known as MSG symptom complex — include:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Numbness, tingling or burning in face, neck and other areas
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

However, researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms.”

WTF?? Hi, I’m Cobban and I’m going to be your definitive evidence for the evening. MSG makes my head throb and my face turn red. It’s nasty shit and I’m floored that it’s back in our food.

In the book, “The Slow Poisoning Of America” authors T Michelle Erb and John E Erb claim, “there currently may actually be a chemical responsible for America’s obesity and diabetic epidemic, and that chemical might just be MSG….”

Now, before I continue, I want to make something very clear. I’m not saying just because someone wrote a book about about how bad MSG is makes it a valid fact. I had a hard time finding evidence online against MSG however, I had no problem finding tons of info on how it’s “harmless” and “researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and MSG symptom complex.” In this case, I do have one valid fact on MSG — I can’t eat it, makes me sick.

My point is this: MSG is made from an industrial fermentation process. Partially hydrogenated oils are oils infused with hydrogen. High-fructose corn syrup is…yikes, it’s too complicated to explain in a single sentence. It’s this. (Recent studies have shown that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation.) Stay away from the things that have been produced in a lab.

I remember when Splenda (sucralose) hit the shelves and its manufacturer, McNeil Nutritionals marketed it as, “made from sugar”. Yeah, it’s made from sugar by moving some atoms around on the sucrose (sugar) molecule to make sucralose. The sucralose molecule is not absorbed into the body, so there are no calories.

Do you want to eat sugar or a molecule that’s been modified in a lab that your body wont absorb?

Remember Olestra? It had the same taste and feel as fat, but passed through the gastrointestinal tract undigested without calories or nutritive value to the diet — and gave people the shits.

I now have a whole different viewpoint on the obesity factor in our country. Foods that are labeled healthy and nutritious are full of modified organic components. We shouldn’t be eating things our bodies can’t absorb. We shouldn’t ingest modified molecules, oils infused with hydrogen and salt substitutes that produce headaches and heart palpitations.

Here’s the hard part where I now realize that I’ve kinda been an asshole. Ray and I are just Ray and I. It’s easy for us to eat well. We — thank GOD — don’t have children. It’s hard to feed a family in today’s face-paced world.

My mom raised six kids. Did we have fresh, home-cooked meals growing up? Hell no. Everything we ate came from a bag or a box. When I think of mom’s biscuits, I don’t have memories of her with an apron, mixing bowl and a cutter, I think of her whacking a cardboard tube against the counter top.

I’m trying to be more tolerant and non judgmental when it comes to our obesity problem. Some things in the American diet are just out of our control. I also have to accept the fact that most of the “natural” stuff I eat has probably been genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides or (in the case of poultry) pumped full of antibiotics and hormones (and fish) filled with crude oil or mercury. The key thing is to try and eat the best food that I can.

One Thought on “Foodgasm

  1. It’s not just the time factor in feeding a family, it’s the cost. Lots of the foods that aren’t good for us are cheaper, per calorie delivered, than stuff that is good for us.

    That’s one reason why, paradoxically, in this country is primarily a problem affecting the poor, not the rich. Rich people can afford organic vegetables at Whole Foods. Poor people can afford bags and cans of processed stuff filled with fat and preservatives.

    And the disparity in calories even follows into alcohol: a 12 oz. Bud or Bud Ice contains about 145-150 calories, while the same amount of alcohol delivered via a neat scotch is only 60-80 calories, depending on proof. If you have two 80-proof scotches in a night, you’ll have 120 calories; Joe Sixpack, drinking, say, 3 beers, will end up with 450.

    And of course, soda pricing, particularly for fountain drinks, makes it hard not to overindulge. When a store charges $1.09 for a 16-oz cup or $1.29 for the 64-oz Big Gulp, who would be silly enough to pay for the smaller drink? And there go the calories again.

    It’s a wonder poor peple have any shot at staying fit.

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