Healthy Eating Advice
What's a Guinea Pig to Do?

guinea pit

Healthy Eating Advice

When my kids were growing up, they had just about every pet you can imagine-- dogs, cats, birds, fish, hamsters, rabbits, hermit crabs, chinchillas, and a guinea pig. (I don’t remember any reptiles, but I may have blocked out that experience!)

However, of all the creatures that inhabited our menagerie at one time or another, the guinea pig stands out, because all that rodent did—his name was Teddy, after a famous politician, I think—all Teddy did was eat, drink, squeal and excrete!

I suppose Teddy was cute, in a beady-eyed, big-nosed, scruffy-furred sort of way. Our boys liked to try out different foods on him to augment his official guinea pig chow. “Hey, Mom! Let’s see if he’ll eat a piece of carrot, a Cheerio, a raisin or a jellybean!” Almost without fail, Teddy would squeal with excitement at the mere sight of a human, and then munch contentedly on nearly any tidbit he was offered.

Human guinea pigs

In some ways, we are like that guinea pig. Over the last seventy or more years, health experts and the food industry have given us healthy eating advice in the form of a number of products and schemes that have been experimental, to say the least, and often unsuccessful in promoting our good health.

In many cases, this was done with the best of intentions, but you know that old saying about "good intentions" and where they lead!

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

Healthy Eating Advice from the 1950’s

"Feeding babies formula in a nice, sterile bottle is better than breast-feeding."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

Although baby formula is the best substitute we can find for mother’s milk, breast milk has exactly the right combination of nutrients that babies need.

Breast-feeding also helps the mom to heal after childbirth and to bond with her baby. Sometimes it is not possible to breast-feed a child, for any number of reasons, but breast milk is still the best food for infants, when available.

Healthy Eating Advice from the 1960’s

"Margarine, also known as "oleo," is better for you than butter, since it is made from vegetable oil, which is lower in saturated fat."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

Hydrogenating fats produces trans-fats, which are worse for you than saturated fats, since they can significantly lower your good cholesterol (HDL) and increase your bad cholesterol (LDL), while at the same time encouraging inflammation and the formation of blood clots.

Healthy Eating Tip from the 1970’s

"Eggs are bad for you since they are high in cholesterol."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

Eggs contain lecithin, which is a cholesterol emulsifier, along with good quality protein,vitamins and minerals. In addition, dietary cholesterol has been shown to have little effect on serum cholesterol levels.

Healthy Eating Tip from the 1980’s

"Low-fat diets are the way to go to lose weight."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

Since we embraced this concept in the 1980’s, we have gotten fatter, not thinner, probably because we replaced the fat with simple carbs, like sugar, which set up insulin resistance and not much satiety. A better idea is to eat healthy fats in moderation along with complex carbs and lean proteins.

Healthy Eating Tip from the 1990’s

"High Fructose Corn Syrup affects you the same as sugar."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

Recent studies have shown that fructose is processed directly by your liver where it encourages fat synthesis and makes you hungrier. Although sugar in all its forms should be limited in a healthy diet, HFCS is ubiquitous in the food supply and more difficult to avoid. Stay tuned on this one.

Healthy Eating Tip from the 2000’s

"If you eat only enough to keep you very thin, you will be healthier and live longer."

On the other hand, before you start squealing,

New research has shown that slightly overweight people, who are not obese, live longer than very thin people, especially if they eat healthy and stay fit. In other words, within reason, wellness is more about choosing a healthy diet and staying active than how much you weigh.

So what’s a guinea pig to do?

Because we are generally a compliant species, each time we are presented with new healthy eating advice, we obligingly squeal, eat and…well you know the rest.

However, the truth is that the formula for eating healthy does not really change, in spite of all of the latest and greatest hoopla. We knew a long time ago that the way to be healthy is to consume a variety of fresh, whole foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, while including some healthy fats and a minimum of processed foods and sugar. 

This is still the best healthy eating advice you can get!

Our poor Teddy couldn’t help being a guinea pig, and since he was stuck in a cage, he was at the mercy of his well-meaning keepers. On the other hand, unlike that captive rodent, we are intelligent human beings with the ability to educate ourselves about what is good for us, use common sense, and then make choices that will lead to vibrant good health and wellness.

Now you can squeal!

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards, 

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