Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I wonder if dieticians follow

their own advice? Do the people who "invent" those strange diets involving half a lettuce leaf and a wafer thin slice of organically grown cucumber actually keep to them? Are there people who never eat anything apart from "approved foods"?
I am not including here people who must maintain a particular diet in order to stay alive. That is different. I know someone who is severely allergic to peanuts. Eating those could be catastrophic and she has no desire to eat them. I have a mild allergy to alcohol and vinegar. They make me feel uncomfortably itchy. I avoid them. I have no desire to eat foods that contain these things and do not even care for the taste of them.
But what about other things? All the conflicting advice does not help. We are told "not" to eat any number of things and then told to eat them. We are told to eat them in small quantities and then told that we can eat them in larger quantities. We are told something is good for you for one reason and then, in the next breath, bad for you for other reasons.
When we first moved to this house there was an elderly couple living next door. The old man was, at the age of about 90 diagnosed with mature onset diabetes. He was told to cease eating his favourite dessert - tinned pineapple in heavy syrup and icecream. He told me this in a puzzled sort of way. Why should he cease eating these things at his advanced age?
The doctor had given him a list of other dietary restrictions as well. The restrictions would have required a radical change of lifestyle and diet. It was quite unrealistic to expect someone of 90, someone who was now endeavouring to do the cooking his wife could no longer do, to change so much. By then I was, as often as I dared, giving them a main meal but even our diet did not accord with the sheet.
The hospitals here are currently under fire because some patients are leaving malnourished. Some patients, particularly the elderly, cannot undo the containers containing the food. I have visited patients who are, quite simply, not even able to reach their food. It has been dumped out of reach. The food itself often looks simply unappetising and must look worse to someone who is not feeling well.
I have no doubt it is all done according to dietary guidelines laid down by dieticians and catering guidelines about "portion control" etc etc. They try to do it cheaply. The food is necessarily bland in an attempt to cater for all tastes.
I do wonder though if the dieticians who design it would eat it themselves. I suspect they do not. Do they really deny themselves all chocolate and sweets? Do they forego eggs, cheese, butter and other dairy products? Do they avoid all salt? Do they have a single mouthful of lamb chop with all the fat removed?
There was a statement by a doctor-dietician saying that it would take forty minutes on a treadmill to work off the effect of eating one Cadbury's Creme Egg. I have never eaten one and I have no particular desire to do so. However there are other people who do like them. It may be better if they did not eat them, just as it would be better if they did not consume tobacco or alcohol. Like tobacco and alcohol, chocolate and any number of other foods labelled "bad" are legally available. "Bad" foods often taste "good". They will be eaten. Telling us they are "bad" simply makes them more desirable.
Dieticians may eat more "sensibly" than many people. I do not know. I know they make some people miserable by demanding they follow impossible guidelines.
I will avoid the Creme Eggs "on special" in the supermarket this morning but that will be because I want to rather than because I have been told to.


Sarah said...

I believe the best advice is 'all things in moderation' (although I often don't follow this!)

I remember reading recently that we have a similar problem here in England regarding malnourished patients leaving hospitals. It's not just the elderly though, it happened to me. To be fair it was 14 years ago but I gave birth to twins 2 months prematurely who were tube fed with my milk whilst in intensive care. It was, of course, my job to feed them. One of their feed times coincided with the time of the evening meal delivery. I was never at my bed when the meal was delivered and I never received one in all of the 16 days I was in hospital. I made complaints,and left notes but to no avail. Luckily for me my husband brought me food every day. Nobody believes me when I tell them this story but I promise it's true.

jkdavies said...

now I am just longing for creme eggs; which is not to say I missed the point of your thoguhtful piece, just the urge for bad food took over... luckily I have a half finished pack of Super Dickmanns instead ;)

Anonymous said...

Give me good quality dark chocolate over a Creme Egg Bob C-S

jeanfromcornwall said...

Fancy imagining that dieticians know anything about food! They work from all this "scientific" data, but totally fail to make it credible for everyday purposes. Added to which, they seem to have some foods on a cycle of "superfood" to "don't touch it" and back again, which makes me think they are just dispensing hot air for the sake of it. I tend to think that if I eat what my Mother and both my Grandmothers would have considered a good balanced diet, I am not going too far wrong. Enjoying it is the most important thing.

catdownunder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
catdownunder said...

Sorry - was trying to leave something private for Chris - not thinking here!
Yes, Jean I agree and Chris, if reading this, will have something to add!

catdownunder said...

Chris's comment came up as mine for some reason - Sarah, he says to tell you that he had food delivered and it was always out of reach!

Sarah said...

When did common sense stop being a requirement for - well - anything, it seems? Chris, I hope you managed to get well in spite of some (I'm sure not all) sections of care you received.