Campaign to save the sweet potatoes

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Dear Health Experts,

I respect your expertise. I really do. But would you please give us a break? You’re sucking the joy out of food, and I’m officially fed up.

Yesterday I saw the Dr. Oz show, and his guest was a neurologist who has written a book called “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” written by Dr. David Perlmutter. I haven’t read the book yet, and I’m sure it’ll be convincing.

But what’s frustrating about yet another food-related health book is that the experts can’t agree – or at the very least stay with one theory for more than a few years at a time. They’re starting to remind me of Congress.

Remember when butter was bad and eggs were evil? Remember when those Snackwell crackers were all the rage because experts were shoving us onto the low-fat bandwagon? Well, scratch that. That theory died with parachute pants in the 80s.

Then the experts decided it was animal fats that were clogging our arteries, and plenty of experts (including Dr. Oz) became vegetarians, urging us to eat healthy whole grains and fresh fruit.

So up until yesterday, I felt pretty proud of that loaf of whole wheat bread in my kitchen and the bowl of blueberries in the fridge. My kids are eating healthy, I told myself. No white Wonder bread for us!

grain brain imageThen this book comes along and blows up all those beliefs. “Fats are your friend,” said Dr. Perlmutter. He also advised us not to eat more than a handful of those blueberries and to only eat vegetables that don’t grow below ground. His book says a dietary goblin called gluten can not only make us fat, it can also cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, depression and headaches.

What? Can carrots be killing my brain cells? Have radishes become radicals? Are turnips now treacherous? And now you’re telling me butter is fine but watch out for those barbaric blueberries?

That’s it. I give up. Right is wrong. Up is down. Night is day. This blistering pace of new science makes me think nearly every food and drink is out to kill me – one way or another. Food used to bring us joy, but lately it’s more like a nutritional minefield.

I really do want to eat the right way and teach my kids to do the same. I don’t want to put the wrong things in my shopping cart and end up doughy with dementia when I’m in my 80s. So I’ll read the new book and try to make sense of it. But I’ll also temper these latest revelations with the knowledge that my grandmother lived into her 90s and grew a garden full of underground vegetables every summer without fail.

My great aunt lived to be 105 and had no idea that she was supposed to be avoiding gluten all that time. She loved food but didn’t abuse it. She walked and worked and moved around as much as her body would allow. I can only hope I’ll be as fit as she was when her age hit the triple digits.

So, dear experts, thank you for all the ground-breaking research and your constant quest to teach us how to eat and live better. But please don’t make mealtime feel like drudgery. I don’t smoke or drink or do drugs, but now you’ve added wheat bread to my list of vices.

I’ll do my best to apply your expertise to my daily diet, but even you can’t make me take sweet potatoes off the Thanksgiving menu. Some things are sacred.

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