Absurd Hot Dog Contest Guy - © blogdotarugao.com.br

Absolute Worst – And Most Dangerous – Eating Habits

I’ve been fielding the broadest possible range of comments over a recent post in which I list my picks for the silliest kitchen gadgets I’ve ever come across. The focus of the controversy has been my condemnation of the Automatic Hot Dog Maker…

Frankie and Jessica - © 2013 BEN CURRAN/Fairfax NZ - www.waikatotimes.co.nzFrankie: The (infamous) New Zealand stray who became a McMainliner,
addicted to Fast Food. His ‘mom’ Jessica, saved him from himself…

The Hot Dog Maker led a sub-list of single-purpose small electrical appliances among a larger registry of, “redundant and mind-bogglingly dumb toys vendors are pushing at the cooks of the world.” Looking back at it, I wouldn’t change, much less take back a word.

And I’ll go even farther, to share with you now a special note I originally intended to include about the Hot Dog Maker:

“Anybody who eats Hot Dogs often enough, or in great enough volume to make this contraption a logistical necessity, might as well arrange to have it buried with them, in their early grave.”

Spurlock - lg - © 1984 - Morgan SpurlockJunk Food addiction

Who can forget Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary about the perils of an exclusively-fast-food diet? Super Size Me was his way of exposing the the perils of Fast Food Addiction. Wikipedia relates: “Spurlock’s film follows a 30-day period from February 1 to March 2, 2003, during which he ate only McDonald’s food. The film documents the drastic effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological health and well-being. It also explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit and gain.”

Back then, we were just starting to realize that the human body and brain are hard-wired to crave fat, salt and sugar. And that sugar, particularly, can be as addictive as nicotine or heroine.

My fave tale of woe involving Fast Food addiction centres on a stray cat who lived for years on the leavings of McDonald’s customers at a particular New Zealand ‘Golden Arches’ location. The cat was eventually adopted off the street by a McD’s employee who took pity. But when she presented it with an array of different cat foods, the beast turned up his nose and howled with disdain. He was a hard-core McDonald’s addict. And went through two weeks of withdrawl Hell before coming out the other side ‘clean’.

Expanding on the idea

The ‘healthy’ discourse over the Hot Dog Maker got me thinking about other devices and eating habits that epitomise the height of dietary self-abuse. And potentially shorten the lives of those who indulge in them…

Fad Diet dabbling

Trying the latest fad diet can not only be up setting to your system, but also materially affect your health. Especially if you follow it for an extended period of time. I vividly recall the case of a 19-year-old Brit who refused to eat any other foods than, “French Fries, Potato Chips, Sausages, Processed Ham and White Bread,” for most of the first two decades of his life. He was diagnosed as permanently blind at age 19 due to nerve damage caused by the lack of important vitamins and minerals in his diet

“Only when the lad started to lose his hearing at the age of about 14 did his family realize that something was seriously wrong.” Sheesh!

This is a drastic, but compelling example of why it’s crucial never to follow any ‘diet’ that calls for dropping any particular food group. Variety in what you eat is as important as the specifics of what you eat. Governments publish Food Guidelines for a reason!

Bluebery Muffin - 2023 - 2023 - thefirstyearblog.comToo many baked goods

Sounds trite. And oversimplified. But baked goods harbour a lot of calories per gram of weight. And many of those potentially excess calories come from fat and sugar. Not to mention that the basis for most cake and pastry recipes is white flour – pure carbs.

This space recently hosted a post on the ‘Most Gluttonous Breakfasts’ contained the shocking revelation that a single medium-sized Blueberry Muffin delivers 426 Calories. Even without butter, or a cup of milk-and-sugared coffee. And a large one will put you over 500 Calories.

That’s a full 25 percent of your total daily recommended Calorie intake. And a hell of a lot of excess sugar!

The takeaway: Excess muffins – or danishes, or doughnuts, or… – can upset your gut microbiome and make you fat. And that’s a road to Health Hell.

Relying on Processed Foods

If a majority of the foods or dishes you consume regularly are, or contain, processed foods, you ought to take a long, serious look at your diet. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about processed and ultra-processed foods, and the frightening affects they can have on your physical and emotional health. And the prevailing opinion among nutrition and medical experts is, they’re dangerously addictive. That traces back directly to the relatively high levels of added sugar, salt and fat they typically contain.

Popular polls and learned studies alike show many younger folks – Xs, Zs and Millennials – are addicted, psychologically, to ‘convenience’ dining and crave instant gratification. To an extent not sen any any previous generations. And that leads them to gravitate toward processed, ready-to-eat foods they can enjoy ‘on the go’.

Granny Smith Apple - © CostcoSalting your apples?

When I was young, idealistic and bullet-proof, I had a boss in the radio news biz who snacked on a big, crisp Granny Smith apple every day at morning coffee break. Ernie would stand in the corner of the commissary, beside the candy bar machine, with the apple in one hand and a salt shaker in the other. He’d salt every bite. And he died of a stroke at the age of just 52.

That was way back in 1984. And even then, we knew that excess salt intake was bad for the arteries. But the boss – consciously or unconsciously – elected to ‘roll the dice’. And lost.

The Bottom Line

We live in an age of unparalleled variety in food products. And they’re all available at our neighbourhood supermarkets. What was the last time you ate something your grew yourself?

In an environment when misinformation and disinformation are often indistinguishable from ‘real’ information, we are all at constant risk of veering off the Healthy Eating track. And only we can protect ourselves from the potentially deadly perils of ‘stupid eating’.

My Take

My co-worker, Johnny, often said of Ernie, “They ought to bury that salt shaker with him, like an Egyptian pharoah. So he can use it in the ‘afterlife’.” I often wonder what future anthropologists, excavating ancient grave sites in what millennia before had been my home town, would make of an unusually tall skeleton with a fully-loaded salt shaker in one hand and the mummified husk of an apple in the other…

~ Maggie J.