I am bemused by the fact that the same load of groceries that would qualify me as a health nut most everywhere I’ve lived makes me a nutritional pariah among my associates in Boulder.
My usual purchases include some combination of the following: pasta; tuna fish in water (solid white if I’m feeling flush, chunk light otherwise); whole-wheat bread or bagels; low-fat or nonfat cheese slices; fat-free or low-fat salad dressings of various kinds; fresh, frozen (usually) or canned (vegetables), the latter typically including chick peas; cole slaw or lettuce; some kind of pretzel-based snack food; skinless boneless chicken breasts; a two-liter of diet soda (not lately, though); and sometimes, Sour Patch Kids or lemon drops. Now and again I’ll get Egg Beaters and I don’t get skim milk as often as I should, but I’m dealing with a very small fridge at the moment.
The reason this tends to earn me scorn — and I didn’t escape it during a recent trip to a faraway state, either — is because the scope of nominally verboten ingredients has expanded in recent years. A long time ago I started making a conscious effort to consume very few fats. I figured that if I was going to be running 100 miles a week, I needed to place a strong focus on carbs and protein. A pleasant side effect, I reckoned, would be avoiding the high cholesterol levels that both of my parents have endured. (I usually run about a 185 with a solid LDL:HDL ratio, not that I really care.)
None of this, however, is nearly enough to constitute a healthful diet by the standards of this high-altitude circus of pseudo-perfection. A lot of my salad dressings and other sauces contain high-fructose corn syrup. I have yet to determine exactly what is so bad about the stuff, but in all honesty I don’t give a fuck and wouldn’t give up my favorite HFCS-containing foods unless you could convince me that HFCS is a potent carcinogen or induces irreversible impotence, and the way things are going I’m not so concerned about the second issue. And it’s not just that; around these parts, a long ingredients list is itself cause for rejection and ridicule, even more so if chemicals with long names are on the slate.
I realize that the “it could be worse” or “at least I’m not living on Vodka and Pringles” defense is a weak defense and I’m not into that kind of relativism, but really, my diet is the least likely thing to cause me problems in life at this point. I make a conscious effort to take in a proper amount of protein for my size and activity level (about 1.5 g/kg or 0.7 kg/lb each day, not difficult to reach), stay away from butter and mayonnaise and egg yolks and other cholesterol and triglyceride bombs, and consume a reasonable amount of fiber. That’s as good as it’s ever going to get.
Truth be told, I think my interlocutors over the years have been secretly distressed because I don’t fart nearly as prodigiously as they do. If so, I’m just as secretly jealous of their unremitting trumpetry, so I’ve tried to live vicariously through their ano-acoustic glory.