© Martin
Earlier this year, fast food behemoth Kentucky Fried Chicken unleashed their latest atrocity onto an unsuspecting public: a junk food nightmare ominously titled the 'Double Down'. This artery-clogging 'sandwich' forgoes any of the conventions of a sandwich - like bread for example - and instead delivers only the goods: two pieces of trans fat deep-fried chicken envelope an over-processed piece of bacon and some sort of cheese-like sauce.

Reactions to KFC's announcement were mixed, as could be expected. Some hedonists lauded its approach with a great deal of fanfare while health experts expressed understandable disgust. This led to blog comments of the usual variety - those who warn of the dangers of consuming something like this and call for its ban, those who bring up the important fact that it is their right to eat like this, and then those whose plan for eating it can only be attributed to spite - eating out of spite being a model adaptation for self-preservation.

But in amongst the kudos and scorn, a type of comment began to appear on blogs that was startling in its implications. These were comments from the pseudo-scientifically-minded in the audience who had crunched the numbers and analysed the nutritional worth of the new KFC lump of fried business. Their conclusion was that the Double Down "isn't that bad". Soon blog posts started popping up, like '10 Fast Food Items Worse For You Than The KFC Double Down'. And this wasn't an isolated incident. Some fast food bloggers were actually recommending the Double Down over other similar sandwiches, and the blogosphere collectively marvelled at the feat of human engineering that KFC had pulled off to keep their sandwich on the relatively 'less evil' side of the fast food spectrum.

Make no mistake, all the items on the '10 Fast Food Items...' list are evil. And what's more, there is no such thing as more or less evil when we're talking about the low end of the food spectrum. The purpose of food, the reason we consume anything, is to nourish the body. If a food doesn't nourish, but instead causes harm, it shouldn't be eaten. Tabulating the damage and bargaining with the figures doesn't make any sense within the processed foods spectrum. Poison is poison. There is no compromise here unless you are starving.

So how can it be that there is even a platform for ranking these non-foods? What perverse form of intellectual gymnastics has been performed to justify the existence of a food that shouldn't really be considered a food at all, since it does nothing to nourish the body? How can science have proceeded to the point that there is actually a measure for ranking which fast food poison is better or worse for you? These foods are all bad - there is no redeeming value to them. So how can we look at something like the 'Double Down' and reassure ourselves by concluding that there is actually something worse?

The answer is simple once you step back from the illusion. The entire system upon which the mainstream assigns value to our foods is a system of numerical values that have little relation to the true value of food. The processes by which food nourishes us is a miracle of complexity, yet we've cut it up into pieces so that all we see is a mathematical system of addition and subtraction so simple a grade schooler should have no problem with it. I am, of course, talking about calorie counting.

Calorie counting has distorted our perception of food. Calories mean energy, yet in this truly backward system, energy from our foods is actually something we're supposed to be trying to limit! Calories are how we fuel ourselves, all our actions, our ability to think, emote and interact with the world. Yet, since its inception, the calorie counting diet craze has encouraged us to look on calories as the bad guy - a necessary evil that goes with the indulgence of nourishing yourself. What is implied is that you want to eat, and you want to satisfy every flavour craving you can imagine, but you want to minimize your calorie intake. Eating is a pastime, entertainment, and calories are an unfortunate side-effect.

This system has taken over by diverting our attention to the symptoms; the same method by which Western medicine has distracted the population into consuming poisons in the form of medicine, by focusing on the symptom. We're thus diverted from what should, for all intents and purposes, be our true goal - our health. We're kept focused on peripheral markers. Make the symptoms disappear, by pharmaceutical drugs or fad diets, and thereby maintain the illusion of health.

The symptom in the case of our diets is fat. While 'health' is somewhat difficult to define and somewhat elusive, we can visibly see when we're gaining weight. Weight is considered undesirable. If we're fat, we're unhealthy, we lack vitality and we're ugly. It's easy enough to impose this idea by constantly bombarding us with the ideal image of beauty - thin, unnaturally surgically padded in various places and completely unachievable by anyone without either a genetic disorder, a starvation diet or an unscrupulous plastic surgeon. Confronted with the ideal image multiple times daily keeps us chasing this proverbial carrot on a stick. We don't want health anymore, we want to look good in a bathing suit according to some sick ideal of what 'looking good' is supposed to mean.

With the focus on fat, health and nourishment are sidelined. Easy answers are given - calories in must equal, or less than, calories out and fat must be avoided since eating fat makes you fat. These recipes for weight loss are simplistic and, for the most part, just plain wrong. But more importantly, they keep us distracted from the true signs of health - energy, vitality, lack of symptoms, happiness. How can we be happy if we're carrying around extra pounds?

One calorie? It MUST be healthy!
Thus, with a twisted system of food valuation firmly in place, the truly damaging chemical ingredients slip into our food chain unnoticed. While the public is looking at calories, fat and sodium counts, the food processors are adding neuro-disrupting flavour enhancers, behaviour affecting colourings and artery-clogging trans fats into our food. A food's ability to nourish is ignored in favour of its appearance, shelf life and flavour. Actual foods that have the potential to nourish us are processed to the point that they are only a shell of their former food glory as flavour and appearance are artificially enhanced to be 'better than the original' and nutrient content becomes almost non-existent.

This corrupted food system is epitomized by the idea of the 'diet beverage'. It resembles something that was food, but it literally is not food - nothing is delivered to the body except for harmful chemical constituents. It has no calories (energy), no nutrients, no food value and no real explanation for why one would want to drink it - a flavour pill, if you will. It epitomizes a system put in place to maintain appearances with no real substance in the form of nourishment.

Yet at the same time, these foods get seals of approval and even praise from government-funded "health" bodies like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetic Association or the American Dietetic Association. Only by using a system which can't possibly reflect the true health of our foods can non-foods be given a stamp of approval from any governing body. At its best, this so-called food is nothing but filler; at its worst it is damaging in the extreme. The only way a person of conscience could recommend something like this is if they have lost all ability to think from being co-opted by a system of food valuation that ignores anything resembling common sense.

Parents are equally corrupted in their understanding of what makes a food healthy. Pressed for time, one can hardly expect a parent to keep up with the latest studies in nutritional science. Can we really blame someone for relying on a number printed on the side of a box to get their health information? Can we blame them for favouring foods that include calorie counts and 'enriched with' labels instead of natural foods which don't? Can we scold them for feeding over-processed cereals to their children every morning, content in the belief that they're providing a healthy fuel to start their child's day? After all, it's only 200 calories per bowl and half the fat of the leading brand!

By accepting this system of food valuation, we're accepting a fantasy. We're agreeing to the grand illusion and getting on the never-ending treadmill of striving for the unachievable by ineffective methods; a cesspool of wishful thinking. We cannot reach a state of health by counting calories and limiting fat and sodium. This simply ignores the most important facets of healthy eating in favour of simplistic addition and subtraction. We need to stop struggling to control the symptoms of health and go for the root cause - real, whole, nutrient dense foods. The sooner we call the food processors on their lies, the sooner we can all return to proper eating.

But this brings us to another important point. Once the scales have fallen from our eyes and we see this food valuation system for the lie that it is, the floor is opened up to the ultimate question - what should we be eating? How does a person eat once they've awakened to the falsity of our food's implied value? Rejecting the food-pushers' wares is the first important step in moving toward a nourishing diet.

When assessing what one should be eating there are some important divisions that need to be looked at. The first division should include all the 'foods' that no one should be eating. This includes genetically modified foods (GMOs), artificial sweeteners, trans fats and even natural foods that have been refined and altered beyond recognition. In general, anything invented in a food processor's lab should be considered unfit for human consumption unless it can be proven to be both nourishing and do no harm - a step often overlooked in the food processing industry.

Also included in the list are things that are added to the food chain for flavour-enhancing or aesthetic purposes but which can easily throw us off balance. You might be making your food from scratch, but if you're adding stuff like sugar, white flour, vegetable shortening, corn syrup or table salt, you're still doing more harm than good.

Wheat and Dairy Are NOT good for humans
Also within the 'foods no one should be eating' bracket are some which may surprise you. Raised on 'food pyramids' and 'five basic food groups', we've been programmed to accept a way of eating that isn't healthy in the least. Remember that government-sponsored food pyramids do not objectively reflect the best foods for individuals to be eating, but rather reflect a compromise between food scientists, lobby groups and government subsidy programs. If you look at the history, there's a very good explanation for why these foods have become staples, and it isn't because they are foods that serve us best. In fact, recent research into the epidemic rates of chronic disease is uncovering them to be the most damaging of all. I'm talking here in particular about the 'Big 4' damaging foods - gluten, dairy, corn and soy.

The second division of the 'what to eat' question looks at foods which some people can't eat. These are foods that can be quite good, even ideal, for some, while having negative effects on others. Why can little Timmy wolf down peanuts like they're going out of style while little Jimmy can't get within ten feet of them without requiring an adrenaline shot to the leg? The fact is, this question of what we are supposed to be eating is difficult to answer simply because there can't really be a 'we' when we talk about an individual's nutritional needs. This is where the concept of 'biochemical individuality' comes into play.

Biochemical Individuality, a term coined by Dr. Roger Williams back in 1956, basically means that the internal cellular environment of an individual, on a molecular scale, is completely unique. We all know that physical characteristics of each body are completely different - different hair, different noses, different sized calves or toes or bums. It's no surprise, then, that the internal environment of each individual is also completely unique. And because it is unique, each cellular environment requires different nutrients in order to function properly.

Each of us is as individual as a little snowflake with completely individual needs. Different blood types respond to the lectin content of different foods in individual, sometimes unpredictable ways. We all have individual genetics, body chemistry, history of illness, internal bacterial composition and, therefore, different nutritional needs. Despite the fact that government regulations have been pushing us all towards a unified 'ideal diet' for decades, such an ideal doesn't exist beyond the level of an individual. As the old adage goes, 'one man's food is another's poison'. Thus we can't necessarily all be eating the same things, even though there will of course be overlap.

The concept of a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for nutrients, despite having figures that are ridiculously low for vitamin and mineral intakes, becomes all the more useless when we take into account that every single one of us has different needs. And finding out what these needs are is an extremely important step in moving toward an ideal diet. Someone who may be showing no real symptoms, or perhaps showing symptoms that he or she doesn't associate with dietary causes, will be amazed as they disappear when the diet is adjusted to one that truly suits the body.

There are differing approaches to how one can figure out what foods are doing them harm. Remember that this is something that may be completely hidden. You may believe that your diet is the picture of health, yet be suffering through a list of nagging symptoms like depression, migraines, restless legs, fatigue or muscle soreness. Complex issues may require the guidance of a natural practitioner. This is likely because your diet, while considered healthy by most external standards, may not be individually suited to you. Sussing out which foods are not working for you, ideally through implementing an elimination diet, is the first practical step one can take to discovering what it feels like to be healthy.

So what are we left with? You'll be forgiven if, looking around your kitchen, you start to feel some panic rising at the thought that there's nothing left to eat! But this actually isn't the case. The fact is, a widely varied and bountiful diet can be had once all the curses of modern convenience are set aside along with the foods you've found aren't working for you. If we think back to the way our Palaeolithic ancestors would have eaten, we see that they probably had more variety in their diets than we do today.

An example of a healthy meal might include free-range organic (or grass-fed) meat products, eggs or fish roasted or fried in a skillet with healthy fat like ghee, butter, lard, coconut oil or olive oil; vegetables stir-fried, boiled or steamed and again served with a healthy fat; a salad of fresh raw vegetables all topped with unrefined sea salt that still contains all of its mineral content. It might also include a home-fermented condiment like pickled carrots, sauerkraut or chutney, brimming with added nutrients and probiotic bacteria from the fermentation process. It should also include the abundant use of flavourful fresh or dried herbs, all contributing their important antioxidants.

Another example would be a soup made of fresh organic vegetables and, if tolerated, legumes that have been soaked overnight. It would be made with homemade bone broth to add all important collagen as well as added mineral content. This soup would also be made with a sea vegetable like kombu or dulse to add readily absorbable minerals to the broth.

Other holistic meals could be big salads with lots of seasonal leafy greens and veggies, nuts or seeds for protein (if tolerated), perhaps a grain-like fruit like buckwheat, quinoa or millet, all mixed with a homemade dressing made from olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon and a touch of raw honey. Salads are also great with fermented veggies mixed in. Breakfasts could include buckwheat or quinoa crepes, homemade sausage and organic eggs, fresh squeezed juices or berry and flaxseed smoothies.

Once the bad foods are set aside, healthy meals are really a limitless experience. Adhering to holistic principles actually frees your cooking from the confines of the food manufacturers' limited selection. We have the planet's almost unlimited bounty of foods before us - the only limits are in our own imagination.