Sunday, May 27, 2012

More things to STOP. DOING.

So a little while ago I compiled a post of what I call 'pseudo-healthy' behaviors that people need to STOP. DOING. Things that drive me crazy, not so much because they're damaging (though in some cases they are) but rather because they have none of the health benefits they are touted to possess; not to put too fine a point on it, they're either harmful or they don't do a damn thing. In either case, isn't that reason enough to stop? Many times, the people who practice these 'pseudo-healthy' behaviors proselytize, which is something I'm uncomfortable with whether the subject is religion, politics, the joys of a nudist lifestyle or the life-changing power of a raw diet. Without further ado, STOP. DOING. THESE. THINGS. PART. TWO.

1. Eating gluten-free when you don't actually have celiac disease/wheat allergy. It's true, there is such a thing as 'gluten intolerance,' but its prevalence in the US is in the single digits percentage wise which means you probably don't have it. Do you experience REAL, TANGIBLE symptoms when you ingest gluten (found primarily in wheat and rye)? Not vague, hand-wavy symptoms like 'mental clouding' or 'general malaise,' as listed on one oh-god-the-sky-is-falling-everyone-has-gluten-allergy website, but diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating?
Adhering to a truly gluten-free diet may be a godsend for folks with celiac disease--people who have a true immune reaction to the wheat protein--but it's expensive, time consuming, and generally a colossal pain in the ass. Yet, because people will do anything in the name of losing weight (or alternatively, in the name of 'cleansing,' the idiocy of which I have previously covered)--and probably also because Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow have done it--there are thousands of folks on a gluten-free regimen for no good reason. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced this one is Gwyneth's fault--but then I blame her for a lot of things, from the nouns-as-names phenomenon (she named her kid Apple before Mac fanboys were even a thing) to the two hours I will never see again thanks to 'Shakespeare in Love.'

2. Barefoot running. Huffpost gives a pretty good precis of the issue here, but to sum it up: in 2009, a guy published a book about the health benefits of barefoot running, which is exactly what it sounds like. After all, for all the millenia prior to the invention of Nikes, human beings walked and ran without benefit of expensive athletic shoes, right? However, to be fair, Homo erectus didn't run marathons just because it FELT like it, and didn't run on asphalt or sidewalk, and didn't train 50 miles a week like many runners do. But it's NATURAL, the barefoot runners cry. We EVOLVED to run barefoot! To which I say: we also evolved into Homo sapiens, man (sic) the THINKER (though regrettably the name isn't as snicker-inducing as Homo erectus), and as such we developed technology, which includes things like wearing shoes, cooking our food, and at least attempting not to shit in our drinking water. Because running barefoot is great until you get a stress fracture from having inadequate support, or until--much more likely in my neighborhood--you step on part of a broken Mickey's malt liquor 40-oz and end up with DIY stigmata and a staph infection. I'll take the running shoes, thanks.


Anonymous said...

Yeah. Arbitrary eating regimens are "vegetarianism." Do you do it because you think animals have souls? You're crazy. Do you do it because you think killing animals is unethical? Check out a billion years of evolution. Do you do it because you think it's healthy? Everything in moderation. Do you do it because you "don't like the taste/texture" of meat? Never eat a meat substitute.

I agree with you on one point: never EVER make an argument based on something being more natural. Nothing humans do is natural. Everybody adds a little technology. No matter how basic you try to be with our basics--eating, fucking, eliminating, dying--you'll find that you've added at least something 20th CE or later to the process. Please don't pine for eras that never existed.

Anne said...

Jason (or Nathaniel...I'm not sure which), I offer you the following. Arbitrary: adj. Determined by chance, whim or impulse,and not by necessity, reason, or principle.
I choose vegetarianism for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I choose to do the best I can, when making choices related to my lifestyle, to minimize the suffering of other sentient beings. This doesn't just apply to animals; it's also the reason I buy fair trade coffee, buy 99% of my clothing secondhand (so that I'm not supporting garment makers that use sweatshop labor), and treat waitstaff at restaurants like the human beings they are rather than emotionless peons. You could say that my choosing to draw the line there, rather than at pursuing, say, a Jain lifestyle, is arbitrary. If Paris Hilton decided to go vegan tomorrow because it became the 'in' celebrity diet, you could call that arbitrary. However, you cannot say that MY vegetarianism, chosen for ethical reasons (related not just to the suffering of animals, but also to the health of the planet as a whole--producing meat enough to feed 10 people requires almost exponentially more grain/water/resources than would be required to simply feed people vegetarian cuisine) is arbitrary.

Anonymous said...

agreed! my biggest beef with both things is people blinding jumping in with both feet on these fad without doing ANY research on the topic to see if it really IS healthy at all, let alone healthy for them. i can't tell you how many people in my old crossfit gym completely jumped on the "paleo" diet (they also jumped on the atkins and zone diets when those were "cool" as well). many of these people are endurance athletes that are no longer going to eat carbs--do you have a death wish?!
Barefoot running-personally, i'm a fan. i started running barefoot in college due to the fact i couldn't keep a toenail and my shoes made my feet go numb and caused a lot of pain. i finally have found 1 pair of "barefoot" shoes that don't absolutely kill my feet and recently ran my first marathon ever where i didn't run with my shoes on my hands instead of my feet. that said--it is NOT for everyone! if you're trying to be healthy and run, get the correct equipment for YOU! there's tons to choose from, all with different little quirks that can help one person and not help others. to blindly jump into the fad of barefoot running when you don't have the body type or running style for it, you are apt to hurt yourself far more than if you just spent the $80 on a pair of kicks. overall, its the lack of thought by individuals just blindly following these fads that has me pulling my hair out.