We've all heard the mantra these days. It's all around us. Everyone is preaching it, from Oprah to Dr. Oz to Dr. Phil.
Eat healthy. Or is it healthful?
Fruits and veggies. Whole foods. Organic. Consume the so-called "super foods" - acai, greens, nuts, eggs, broccoli, asparagus, yogurt, nuts, beans, and salmon.
Super foods can reportedly do stuff like lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They can battle heart disease and cancer. They fight off toxins. They reduce inflammation, they promote digestive health. That's why they're super. Super duper.
We're told to satisfy our hunger with apples, oranges, carrots and bananas. Keep our fridges stocked with green and red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, squash and avocados, too. Colors count.
Oh, and drink water. Lots of water.
I'm game. I've got will power.
Out with the processed foods, in with the real. Just say no to sugar and starch - "white death," one athlete told me.
A relative recently gave me one of those Magic Bullets, and smoothies have become the sensation in our house. I blend pretty much anything and everything (well, not unpeeled oranges. Yuck. Tried it once. Tastes awful).
Most mornings, I'm tossing coconut milk, a splash of orange juice, bananas, frozen strawberries, blackberries, peaches, pineapples, together, along with a bit of protein powder or SuperGreens, and setting out glasses of the stuff for my wife and son. Drink up, I tell them, it's good for you. These super smoothies are packed with vitamins and minerals and whatever else we need to breathe and sleep and leap over rocks and roots.
Yet, I'm not sure I can keep this up. Something is missing from my diet, something I need to really, truly, be happy, to have that sense of satisfaction deep in my soul.
What's that, you ask?
This really is one of those "can't live with it, can't live without it" deals.
There are days I can't stand another banana, no matter how much potassium it has. There are nights I don't want to see anymore broccoli on my dinner plate. And please, I like oatmeal, but I can only stomach so much of it.
So, I've developed my own list of super junk foods. These are packed with sugar and ingredients like gelatin, corn syrup, citric acid, sucrose, sodium citate, natural/artificial flavors. carnauba wax and red40 yellow5 blue1. Yum. Somehow, they mix it to sugary sweet perfection.
Only God and the companies that make this stuff know what these things do to a human body, and so far, they're not talking.
So, without further ado, allow me to introduce to you, my super junk foods. I should add you won't find these at Pilgrim's or Super Supplements. And also, before adding these as a staple of your diet and tossing out all those fruits in the fridge, please consult with your physician.
Gummi bears: A quick pick-me-up and perfect for when I'm on a long run. Well, not quite perfect, but darn good.
Red licorice: Almost a meal if you eat enough. A pack in the vendinig machine downstairs costs 85 cents for about 15 vines. Gone in 60 seconds.
Hot tamales: Packs a punch. Powerful stimulant. Be careful. Bad things happen when you eat too many.
Snickers: Peanuts make this a healthful snack, but can leave you feeling a bit blah after the sugar crash. One, at 280 calories, is very filling.
Doritos (nacho cheese): Energy comes with each crunch. Well, at least with the first 20 chips or so. After that, the effect lessens. But don't let that slow you down.
Cereal (Honey Smacks): You can't eat just one bowl. Impossible. Sweet treat, but hey, the frog on the box cover looks fit and I bet he can jump all day, and we all know the benefits of jumping. I hope I don't offend the cereal companies by classifying this as junk food. But it is junk food at its finest.
Cookies: Chocolate chip, but really, any cookie. Just the other day, my wife baked a bunch and filled the cookie jar. I can proudly report, it was empty by nightfall.
I must admit, we keep little of this stuff in the house because if I see it, I eat it. Besides, super junk food, based on price per pound, is expensive.
So, bottom line, I will occasionally satisfy my craving for junk food. Really. Just occasionally. And when I do, please don't remind me that my beloved hot tamales contain modified food starch, malic acid, fumaric acid, confectioners glaze, carnauba wax, white mineral oil, artificial flavors, artificial color and magnesium hydroxide, not to mention red #3, red #40, yellow #5 (tartrazine), yellow #6, blue #1, blue #2.
I just couldn't keep eating them.
Oh, heck, yes I could.
All it takes is a little will power.
Bill Buley is city editor of the Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, ext. 2016.