Let me throw another non-writing topic at you today.
Did you know that being relaxed is a better indicator of longevity and health than what we eat or how much we exercise? They've done studies!
Social drinkers live longer than binge drinkers and alcoholics, but even more interesting, they live longer than non-drinkers. It's not the alcohol which increases life expectancy, it's the lifestyle social drinkers lead. They're less stressed because they have a way to unload after a busy week.
If you want to die, just tense your body day after day. You'll destroy your organs and your muscles. Stress and tension in the form of anxiety is devastating to many millions of people. It trumps bad diet as a form of suicide.
I enjoy eating healthy foods because I know I'm doing the right thing when I eat well, but also because of the way food affects my brain chemistry. Too many processed carbs and I get depressed. Too much meat and I get nervous. It's the way I am—not everyone is the same as me.
I'm aware of the movement towards healthy diet. I'm aware of the disease statistics in our culture. I'm aware of the foods that cause cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
But I'm not sure the facts matter, not entirely. I think what is even more important than eating healthy, is being happy. And food, good or bad, plays a role in happiness.
One of the coolest things growing up was eating McDonald's when we traveled, and eating pizza at lunch at school on Fridays. Food has major satisfaction value. Food has always been a trigger for happiness for me, and I'm not the only one.
As an adult I enjoy cooked lentils with rice and beans more than I enjoy a Big Mac, but even though the type of food has changed, the fact that I get enjoyment from eating hasn't. After a short fast, I still to this very day get a rush of emotions when I think of food. These emotions made being at school just before lunchtime one of the best times of the day.
The health nut in me wants to encourage everyone to eat healthier. The Taoist in me encourages me to step back and look at the bigger picture. Changing what we eat isn't going to fix society. Having compassion would accomplish more than getting people to eat their vegetables. And we can eat all our vegetables and still be stressed out.
Food, for many, is the one thing they can indulge in that takes the edge off of life. I'd rather them have food than nothing at all.
And it's not like people don't know what is healthy. Americans simply eat what tastes better. And because unhealthy foods taste better, even if it's for a moment, it also makes them feel better.
There's a fine line to walk with health. It's the line between eating to live forever and eating to enjoy yourself right now. We can't live forever. We can't always be happy. But that line, it's pretty fat. There's a lot of middle ground. Consider it the waistline of common sense. Have a hamburger, but balance that with a salad.
Despite studies, despite personal experience, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to eat—unless you try to digest your food through your skin. So dare to have variety. Why eat healthy if you'll still give yourself a heart attack in the process?
Relax about it.