Less can be better… most of the time
By Penelope A. Domogo
Did you notice that modern society wants us to have more, and more, have it bigger, bigger? Dream big. This byword has been inculcated in us since we started commerce and trade and when we had cash economy. And this is literally interpreted as big landholdings, big buildings/big houses, big business, big income, more cars, more properties, more clothes, more gadgets. The list is endless. Our desire to amass material wealth is unending. We are being brainwashed to aspire for more and more, amass more and more. Modern society feeds our greed to acquire, even when not necessary. It is as if our resources are limitless. Unfortunately, our resources are limited. It has often been said, “The world has enough for everybody’s NEED, but not enough for anybody’s GREED.”
So what happens in a situation when resources or wealth is limited? This is what happens- when some people have more, the rest will surely have less. It is like eating from one pan of lemon pie which is divided into 10 equal slices. This can be distributed equally to 10 people. But if one person gets 2 slices, then one person will not get a slice or another can divide her portion into two small portions to share. But does this one person really need two slices? I don’t think so. If every one of the 10 just got one slice of lemon pie, then everyone is filled and no one goes away hungry.
Our topic this week is part of our continuing reflections for Lent and as a response to the Covid-19 message for us to slow down. We don’t really need so much food, so much clothing, so many gadgets and what not that we are amassing in our bodies and in our homes and in our lives. And yet, amidst all these excesses, we often whine about the lack of things – lack of money, lack of food, lack of water, lack of land/space, lack of time. Well, dear readers, when we look at the prevalent diseases afflicting people nowadays, we know that we have a lot of excesses. Even in remote areas, we have diseases emanating from excessive eating.
Overweight/obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, kidney diseases are diseases of excess – excess food, particularly sugar, fat, protein, artificial additives. We are eating too much. We are consuming too much- not only food but advertising. You see, aggressive advertising which bombards us everyday from the internet and TV is brainwashing us to buy buy buy.
One common reaction I get when I say “Minimize or avoid sugar” is “But our body needs sugar?” Of course. And God provided sugar in many forms. Unfortunately, natural sugar does not necessarily taste as sweet as your cane sugar or honey. There is sugar in your rice, camote, beans, squash, gabi, pechay and all natural foods. In fact, we are already eating enough sugar in our traditional diet. So adding sugar which you buy from the store is excess.
Proteins are made of some 20 amino acids. 12 of these building blocks are manufactured by our bodies and 8 have to be provided by our diet (termed as “essential” amino acids). Studies of diets around this interesting planet of ours show that these essential amino acids can be provided adequately by a varied assortment of plant foods! Look at our indigenous diet – rice and bukel. The staple food in Caribbean countries is beans and rice. Mexicans have been eating corn and beans then and now. The Chinese have lugao and soybeans. What science has found is that the amino acids low in rice are found in beans and vice versa. They complement each other. Our forefathers may not have identified the molecules but they certainly knew the correct combination! Many studies implicate high animal protein diets in the development of kidney diseases, several cancers and other degenerative diseases.
Other problems with animal protein is that when you cook it you cannot separate the protein from the cholesterol. Even if you slice away the obvious fat, there is still a lot of hidden fat in the meat. It contains saturated fat (bad fat) and cholesterol (excess because our body already manufactures cholesterol). Actually, it is the fat in meat that makes it tasty. (I learned that from pulutan lovers.) And remember ONLY animal-sourced foods( pork, chicken, beef, dog meat, kambing, longganisa, hotdog, tocino, ham, eggs, milk ) contain cholesterol. There is NO cholesterol in plants. So please don’t insist that avocado contains cholesterol. And what more, these animal protein-rich foods don’t contain fiber. Lack of fiber has been implicated in diabetes and colon cancer.
Excess fat and sugar makes the blood thick and sticky (think of the sebo in your bulalo) thus slowing down circulation and causes red blood cells to stick together. These will then stick to the walls of your blood vessels thus narrowing and hardening of the arteries. These, in turn, can lead to strokes, heart attacks and other diseases. Other diseases may ensue because of poor distribution of oxygen and nutrients.
Butter, margarine, cooking oils are nearly 100% fat. Thus cheeses, whole milk, mayonnaise, cream, ice cream, contain a lot of fat.
The less sugar, fat and animal foods we put in our mouths, the better for us. Our parents and forebears attest to this. Then we will have enough money, enough food/water, enough land, and better health. Enough for us and enough to share this Lent or anytime. Then we will have enough to see us through even if factories are locked down because of Covid-19. Come to think of it. Happy Women’s Day!**
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14