For the love of food…learn the science of it.

The other evening at dinner with a friend,  we got into a discussion about the dichotomy concerning food and health.  This is a conversation that often arises when I dine with people, who wonder whether I ever eat bread, let alone dessert, since I spend much time explaining the perils of these foods.

Our chat got me thinking. Why has eating become so complicated and categorized – right, wrong, good, bad. What’s the harm in pulling apart and savouring the butteriness of the fine layers of a fresh croissant? Food and art in one.

Eating is – can be – a creative, sensory, and passionate enjoyment.

Why then have we come to evaluate food according to math and science? I can toss out a few thoughts. Industrialization. Changes in family roles. The convenience and allure of packaged, processed foods. The food industry-funded research into the brain and its craving and reward habit-forming patterns. Inactivity. Stress.

All of these combined have tipped the scale. Looking back, we may have seen it starting to tip twenty or thirty years ago. Now it feels like we’ve flipped upside down, flailing around, frantically trying to restore a simplicity of eating. Many of us have developed a love-hate, fearful relationship with food – approaching it with caution, tiptoeing around it like merely looking at it might pack on a few more pounds, drive cholesterol up a few more notches.

I spend much time explaining carbohydrates. I feel people’s frustration about the fact that eating has become so confusing. Sometimes it would be easier not to know the science of glucose and insulin, or the perpetuating cycle that makes people sick. It shouldn’t be like this. Food really is good.

I wish that knowing what I do about blood sugar, I could tell people it is okay to eat a fresh baguette for breakfast straight from a baker’s oven, thick crust torn open to free the steam from its porous interior. The sweet smell of sourdough, and the way butter seeps through it. The pause it gives your breath, the way your eyes shut when you bite into it. Crisp, soft, moist. I can’t.

I wish I could tell you that wood oven pizzas for dinner would lower your blood sugar. I really do. There is nothing as heart-warming as a homemade crust slathered with simple crushed tomatoes, spicy sausage and smoked mozzarella. Or honey, fresh figs and blue cheese.

I wish we weren’t desperately trying to undo some of the harms that are hindering our wellbeing, our everyday lives. That good intentions and honest delight in real food were enough to stand all those dominoes back up again, and take out the ones that made it tip the wrong way.

Is it possible to have pastry and pizza like they do in France and Italy everyday?

I don’t have an answer to that. But what is certain is that there is no way around the importance of understanding the basic science so we can make sound choices that allow for food enjoyment and physical and mental wellbeing to co-exist.

So what do you think?