Follow Up to Friday’s Questions

As promised, the follow-ups to last Friday’s questions.

1) Is Frappuccino a coffee? Of course not. Starbucks calls it an “iced-coffee beverage”. In reality, it’s a cross between a coffee-smoothie and a milkshake. The thing that makes this interesting for me is how much sugar is actually in this thing. In fact, if the coffee revolution in America brought is to be known for anything, it’s the fact that it has taken a low-calorie drink (coffee) and made it palatable to American tastes by loading it down with calorie heavy items such as milk, sugar, and in some cases whipped cream
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2) Is Gatorade healthy? In so far that it has less calories than soda, then yes. But unless you’re running marathons, these are mostly empty calories (and yes, “empty calories” is a judgement). From a doctor’s perspective, water is almost always the better choice.

3) Why do doctors recommend 8 class of water a day? This is one of those “healthy living” tips one hears from time to time, and that we assume is good on face value. Nothing wrong with water, right?

But look at the question again – why eight glasses? How many ounces are in a glass of water? If I drank sugar-free soda, would that work in place of a glass of water?

These questions above have no solid answer to them from the medical establishment. We know we need to by hydrated in order for our bodies to work optimally. But optimization works differently from person to person.

“Eight glasses of water” is, scientifically speaking, nothing more than a rule of thumb that will hit the majority of people. And by saying “water”, it removes both sugar and alcoholic beverages from the equation, items most doctors would like you to avoid anyways. We need to be hyrdrated, and eight glasses per day will most likely get you there.

But your mileage will vary from person to person.

4) Which item is more important in nutrition – Fiber, Carbohydrates, or Protein? They all have their purpose in nutrition. Period. What’s more important when you are watching what you eat is caloric intake, rather than where those calories come from. Most nutritionists will tell you that those who focus on proteins over carbs miss the point to some extent. Good Nutrition starts, not by carb watching, but by calorie watching. Only after one learns to limit the input of calories on a daily basis should attention then be paid to the protein vs. carb debate.

5) Which is more nutritious – organically grown spinach, or spinach that was grown via means used by Agri-business? Trick question – they should hold roughly the same amount of nutrition. Discussion surrounding the nutrition of Agri-Business models versus organic models misses the point of the conversation.

6) How healthy is a Vegan Diet? This is difficult to say, as, again, nutrition is dependent upon the individual, rather than the collective.A lazy vegan is quite likely an unhealthy vegan, as one has to make sure that they are getting an adequate amount of nutrients that we typically get from eggs, milk, and meat. A vegan needs to be proactive in their nutrition, ensuring they get proteins and various minerals. Can a vegan live a healthy life? Yes, but it takes a LOT of work, and even then one can still run into problems based on the needs of their individual bodies.

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So what was the point of these questions? To demonstrate that there are few easy answers when it comes to food. Many questions need nuanced answers to convey the truth, and there are multitudes of “buts” and “ifs” in most of those answers. To be fully engaged in the food world requires the ability to sift through these answers.

This requires a lot of time and a lot of work. However, time is a resource most people simply do not have. It’s far simpler to make a decision based on taste, a bit of knowledge, a modicum of common sense, and then hope that rest turns out for the best, allowing ourselves to be influenced by other societal pressures to help us fill out our decisions. Whatever culinary dissonance we have comes from this fact.