Everything is Bad for You

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pancakes world's greatest superfoodBy Chris Randall

After a slow, easy run on a beautiful Sunday morning, I decided that the only thing missing was a fat stack of pancakes.

Yes, pancakes. Those succulent, golden, sweet, heavenly cakes spawned from the pan. I couldn’t remember the last time I had pancakes, and I was feeling adventurous so I figured, “Hey, what the heck?”

They weren’t anything too special, just your basic flapjacks: some flour, some sugar, sweetened coconut milk, baking soda, and a couple mashed bananas. And of course I topped them off with some good old-fashioned maple syrup and accompanied them with a tall, cold glass of orange juice. Solid.

As I was digging into my stack, a thought crossed my mind that made me laugh: the notion of some pretentious, snooty health fanatic with kale stuck in his teeth looking in on my Sunday brunch and telling me down his nose, “What?! Pancakes? That’s bad for ya’!”

Admittedly, most of the ingredients were totally organic and wholesome. The cakes weren’t at all greasy either. They were completely vegan (!), even. And they were good…real good. But every single ingredient in that meal, someone could find something “wrong” with it.

I was reminded of my favorite comedian and philosopher of the modern time, the late, great George Carlin. I remembergeorge carlin bad for you him joking about how regardless of what you’re talking about, somehow and some way, it’s bad for you. Says someone anyway.

Bananas? Sugar, serotonin, yikes! Absolute poison. Whole-grain bread? Lectins, phytates, gluten! One of the worst things you could possibly consume. Maple syrup? Fuggedabout it! You’ve got a death wish my friend.

I can guarantee you that every single thing you did today and everything you consumed, in one way or another, was bad for you.

The ripe fruit you had with your breakfast has varying degrees of acetic acid and alcohol in them, both of which are poisons. The way you sat in your chair at work today? You’re practically begging for some serious spinal problems later in life. And don’t even get me started on all those naturally occurring nitrates you consumed in the celery you had in your soup for dinner.

Are you seeing a trend here? It’s bad for ya’. Everything’s bad for ya’, apparently. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, or how diligent you are, something you eat today is going to be bad for you in one way or another.

So what do you do: become a psychotic mess who obsesses over food purity and can’t lead a happy, fulfilling life because of it? I wouldn’t recommend that. Far too many health-seekers slip into this mindset, and I was even there once myself. It’s Deep-Fried-Twinkies for healthnot a fun place to be.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that you need to be willing to have a deep-fried Twinkie sundae topped with chocolate sprinkles and fast food taco meat for lunch every day to have a healthy relationship with your food. I’m proposing that you can have a healthy, realistic balance between psychotic food purity and total reckless abandon. Both ends of that extreme will put you in a not-so-healthy place.

The longer I’ve been striving towards living a healthy lifestyle, the more I realize it just isn’t all completely black and white. There are many shades of grey in between. I mean, some people can eat mangos and enjoy them perfectly fine, while others may have their throats swell up and need a shot of Epinephrine to breathe again. Some people could happily tuck into a stack of whole-wheat pancakes and feel fine as can be, while others might experience some seriously messed up bowels from the same meal.

As a young black sheep, I always wanted things to be black and white and right or wrong. Something about being unwilling to listen to anything that was in between just seemed like the appropriate thing to do at the time.

But as with most people, we grow up and mature. Our minds open a little bit wider, and we actually become willing to open up to the idea of understanding some of those shades of grey, or at least acknowledging they exist.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’m still probably going to always keep my hair just long enough to get a mean look from that conservative old lady from across the street. You don’t want to conform too much, right? But when it comes to health and nutrition, accepting that everything isn’t as cut and dry as we’d like is a crucial element to becoming happier and healthier.

For you or someone else, mowing down stacks of waffles with syrup or billowing bowls of oatmeal with molasses and dried fruit may be just what you need. And for someone else, eating a 6-pound bowl of raw lettuce, tomatoes, and other veggies for dinner may be counterproductive in restoring or maintaining your health. Logic would say that the former is, “Bad for ya’!” while the latter is “Good for ya’!”, but it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.

There are all sorts of little nuances that play a role in what’s good for you and what’s bad for you. I’m not saying that vegetables are bad for you and that waffles are inherently the world’s greatest super-food. But in the right context under the right circumstances, both may be true at the right time.

All I’m saying is that when someone writes a book and says that removing this one thing from your diet will provide what works for younutritional nirvana, or that this one way of eating is absolutely the right way for everybody, take it with a grain of salt. Or a pancake or two.

In the end, you have to decide what makes you feel good and what’s good for YOU and what’s bad for YOU. No endless list of self-appointed diet gurus can ever do that. They aren’t you, so they don’t know.

So the next time you have someone say, “You know, that’s bad for you…” while sneering down their nose at your plate of whatever it is, just remember what George so eloquently suggested: “And while all this is going on, you’re searching through your mind for something diplomatic and tactical and graceful you can say to help end the conversation. And all I can ever think of is: blow it out your a**!”

31 Comments

  1. First!

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  2. Second!

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  3. I used yo love list of “suprrfoods”, and tried to eat mostly those foods. Now I believe that eating a wide variety is best, especially of vegetables, fruits, and less processed foods from the ground. Unprocessed meats are also good, and dairy products. Lesser amounts of foods not in these groups. And I’m not afraid of sugar.

    Reply
  4. I was thinking recently that blueberries and raspberries might be the only two foods without legions of haters, and only then in moderation lest Robert lustig catch wind of it. Then I thought that Michio Kuchi and the orthodox macrobiotic crowd wouldn’t necessarily be pro berry unless you were in excellent health and living in a temperate climate in the summer. But pretty much every other food has fanatical haters who will blame that food for all kinds of problems!

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    • Everybody also loves kale. From raw vegans to lowcarbers and everybody in between….all hail the kale.

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      • I used to grow kale and spinache and chard…all full of oxalates. Even though I could just go and pick some everyday if I wanted to, I didn’t because I don’t think it is a good idea to eat these foods everyday.

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      • Except, some years ago, kale did a nasty job on my GI tract, lol. So there you go, even kale can hurt somebody sometime.

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    • Nope— Ray Peaters hate the berries (well, hate my be a strong word for them)… but the seeds in berries are full of pufas. You have to be careful not to chew the seeds and make sure they come out of the other end unscathed.

      Reply
  5. Life will kill ya in the end!

    If you really want to be diplomatic and not feed anyone’s ego, just say “thank you for your input,” and continue to enjoy as if nothing happened.

    Reply
  6. So was I the only one that straightened their posture on the way you sat at work bit?

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  7. The irony of it it is a bit lost on me since the writer is a staunch vegan.
    As for pancakes with no butter..

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    • I’m sure plenty would tell Chris that being a vegan is bad for him too, despite the fact that he got his health and his life back from doing it. At some point it may no longer be appropriate for his health, but it has clearly served him. Right now, it works pretty well. If and when he no longer gets such results, I’m sure he’ll transition to something else. That’s the power that someone free of dogma has.

      Reply
  8. So many raw food gurus admitting eating cooked foods and here comes Chris baaaaaaa Randall following along. George would certainly put crap on sheep like you if he was still around.

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    • I think I’d win George over with these flapjacks, Paul. They are pretty dank.

      Besides, I started eating cooked food waaaaayyyy before it was cool. :)

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  9. You rock Chris! always provide a refreshing approach to health and wellness, keep it up :)

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  10. I have pancakes or waffles about once a week or every other week made with (all organic) almond flour, coconut milk, spices etc etc, fried with coconut oil and topped with Kerrygold butter & grade B pure maple syrup–the flavor & consistency & general all-over tongue-&-belly-happiness blows any wheat-flour pancake & cane-or-corn-sweetened syrup that I’ve ever had right outta the water! Yummy for your tongue and tummy!!

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    • Almond flour? tsk tsk, so many pufas,

      Tongue firmly planted in cheek. ;)

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  11. Being vegan is definitely bad for you

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    • Yep, I gained a lot of weight being vegan and lost bone mass out of my jaw. Not the best move I ever made.

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  12. Right on, man. Very few foods are objectively bad–we just abuse them by over- or under-eating, by a lack of moderation. I had a big fat belgian waffle with apples and brown sugar crumbles for breakfast, and I’m having a steak and potato for dinner.

    It does seem contradictory that the author is a vegan, unless he’s doing it for ethical rather than health reasons.

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    • I don’t think he is doing it for ethical reasons but chose the Vegan lifestyle b/c he got such great results from it as Matt mentioned above. I think the real question is—does he think that everyone should be Vegan. Does he get that just because it worked so well for him this doesn’t mean it can work well for everyone. From browsing through his site it appeared to me that he might have been the typical fanatical Vegan at one time. Perhaps he’s learned a bit with time, experience and maturity.

      Reply
  13. George was an amazing comedian, way ahead of his time. He opened up many people’s eyes to a lot of stuff.

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  14. I am French, I am all for buckwheat galettes! That is the deal, with a bolée of apple cider.
    Crêpes suzette ? That is for kids. I don’t eat wheat anyway, it fucks my digestion and makes me sleepy. But buckwheat ? no problem. With ham, emmental, one egg on top, you cannot say no.

    But on topic: anyone being nosy about what you are doing, be it eating or what-not, IS annoying. Have your pancakes, enjoy them, and stop ranting about people who would like to “remove the snot from your nose”. Waste of time …

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  15. I agree that pancakes taste good, really good. So does chocolate and ice cream and a nearly limitless number of other things that we can choose to eat. What I like to focus on are options that will lead me in the direction of long term success, not slippery slopes and ongoing emotional manipulations within myself and addictive foods. I think a prior comment posting by Elena above sums up my thoughts too: “The irony of it it is a bit lost on me since the writer is a staunch vegan.
    As for pancakes with no butter…”

    Climate, environment, social support and availability of high quality foods should be the goal, and it’s not as hard to reach that if you keep your eyes on the prize.
    After 16 years in New York I got up and left for Hawaii …and it was tough to do, really scary, but I made it happen because I wasn’t interested in letting pancakes have time in my head.
    Don’t give up on your dreams.

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    • “The fact that a taste of chocolate can provoke a wild lust for more chocolate, or that once cigarette renews the addiction, does not mean that the presence of chocolate or nicotine in the blood creates a craving. Rather, it is that an organism in an unstable state perceives the availability of something which promises to partially restore the desired stability.” – RP

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      • This seems very reasonable though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VLFhdFOGRP8

        “Don’t let your conversations at every social gathering be about your diet, it will eventually eat away at you and you’ll begin to avoid social situations which is not healthy either.” – Michael Arnstein

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  16. Keep it coming Chris! You and Matt have a fabulous way with words that just leaves me giggling like my little sister; and I’m totally ok with that.
    This website and y’alls posts have been a wake-up call to the heartless world of Vegan Kale-fatigue and it’s so refreshing to know that I’m not alone.
    btw—pancakes are one of my favorite foods. I’m going to have to make a stack after reading about your Sunday morning, post-jog culinarily decadent recovery meal. =)
    Much obliged all. Keep speaking for the regular man and woman who want to be happy and healthy but exhausted by the contrived mind-f@&k of every health gu-blew-ru with an opinion about superfoods and nifty blenders that save 1000′s of cow souls simply by sitting unused on my counter. Oy vey. Much love and huge hugs to everyone at 180. Shout it loud and proud.

    Reply

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