Eating Like Hypocritical Toddlers

I had a friend whose 4-year-old son would eat only white foods. As many mothers can relate, this is not an unusual phase for young kids to go through. For a year, she gritted her teeth and served him nothing but pasta, rice, potatoes, white bread, and chicken breast.

I was thinking of this recently when I encountered yet another rant against “white” foods, the evil food du jour. You know, that whole glycemic index thing. Avoid white bread, white potatoes, white sugar, pasta, white rice. They’ll make you fat and lead to heart disease and foggy brain and no sex and who knows what else.

It’s like toddlerhood in reverse.

I love whole grains. Always have. I actually prefer whole-wheat bread and whole-grain pasta. (I do confess to a weakness for sugar, white and otherwise.) For diabetics, refined carbs can indeed pose a problem. And people in America and the rest of Western civilization probably eat way too many refined starches. (I do have to wonder why there aren’t more fat people in eastern Asia, given the vast quantities of white rice they eat.)

But I can’t help but notice that even as the diet books trumpet the glycemic index and your sister-in-law refuses to eat any vegetable with eyes, the “frozen treats” aisle in the average American supermarket keeps getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger. Any day now, “ice cream novelties” will engulf the entire store. Call me suspicious, but I have the sneaking feeling that maybe just a few of the folks who shun white aren’t counting the white sugar in Fudgesicles.

Come to think of it, the friend’s kid who would eat only white foods did make exceptions for things like, say, chocolate and red licorice.

I guess we never really outgrow toddlerhood.

Run for Your Food

An article in the current issue of the New Scientist suggests that humans may have evolved the body shape we did to become good runners. And why would we need to be good runners? So we could eat. Our ancestors could get to animal carcasses first to scavenge and later, when they became hunters, they could chase after prey for long distances, literally wearing the animal out.

An anthropologist who studies modern African hunters says the practice of chasing down prey is dying out. It’s a bit too labor intensive.

I’m not sure the practice is dying out. I know plenty of people who scarf down a bag of chips then run an extra mile on the treadmill. Ah, but wait—we’ve got it backwards. What you do is put the package of cupcakes or bag of Doritos a mile away. Then run for it. Better yet, race your teenage son to see who gets there first.

By the way, anthropologists say large buttocks contribute to our ability to run well on two legs. The next time you try on a pair of jeans and blanch when you look in the mirror, blame evolution, not that extra slice of fudge marble cheesecake.