Brian Edwards Media

Enjoy Yourself – It’s Later Than You Think!

Methuselah

Methuselah

Gotcha! So you thought a few chocs, a glass or two of cab sav and a soothing flat white were good for your heart. After all, you read it somewhere in the paper. One of those “recent research” stories or some nutrition expert had said so. You can’t quite remember who. There’ve been lots of these stories anyway. Something to do with antitoxins or antioxidants. Some sort of “anti”. And you were so tired of all this can’t/don’t/mustn’t/bad-for-you stuff, that it was great to have some news that not everything you ate or drank was going to give you cancer or a heart attack or diabetes or something high, like blood pressure or cholesterol.  What the hell is cholesterol anyway?

Well, as Bart Simpson’s nemesis Nelson Muntz would say, “HA, HA!” The latest research, the most authoritative nutrition experts now take great pleasure in telling you that you were kidding yourself. Well actually it was the previous research and the previous most authoritative nutrition experts who were kidding you. But let’s not quibble.

The word from the New Zealand Heart Foundation today is that eating chocolate or drinking red wine or coffee has no cardiovascular health benefits. The Foundation’s  National Director of Healthy Weight, Susan Anderson  – healthy weight has a National Director?  – is quoted in this morning’s Herald as saying that the message  to chocolate, wine and coffee connoisseurs from a review of more than a hundred scientific papers is that any cardiovascular benefit from their treats is more a case of wishful thinking.  

“Chocolate, coffee and red wine are OK as part of a balanced diet. The best way to get enough antioxidants is to  eat a variety of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds every day.”

People should eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day. Washed down, presumably with the five litres of water the experts say you should drink every day to remain healthy. (Oh, sorry, now they don’t think that’s very healthy at all.)

Hey, you know what people really like to eat? Fat and salt. That’s why the smell of crispy streaky bacon is the most enticing thing in the world. That’s why it’s so hard to tear people away from McDonalds and KFC. And you know what people really like to drink? Tea and coffee and soft drinks and beer and wine. That’s why the people who sell all these products are doing so well. And where is it written that God (Don’t bother writing – I know!) intended us to eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day? Look at the trouble eating just one apple caused Adam and Eve – and all their descendants! And didn’t Jesus turn that pesky water into wine and the Bible tell us that wine makes merry and gladdens the heart?

And that brings me to the nub of what I’m trying to say. The purpose of all this nutritional puritanism is not to make our existence merry or to gladden our hearts, but to extend our lifespan, to substitute quantity of life for quality of life. We’ve already exceeded our three score years and ten, but it’s no longer enough for us. We want to live to 80, 90, maybe a hundred or more. And if we can control the aging process, who knows? Immortality, the ultimate goal, may be just around the corner. So “living” becomes little more than perpetually delayed gratification.

I’m with an Irish friend who told me, “They say if I give up the booze, I’ll live five years longer. But why would I do that? Those last five years are no good anyway.”

I’m with Herb Magidson who wrote the immortal words:

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think 

Or with George and Ira Gershwin who reminded us: 

Methus’lah lived nine hundred years

Methus’lah lived nine hundred years

But who calls dat livin’ when no gal’ll give in

To no man what’s nine hundred years

 

 

Or with the Bard himself:

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
   And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
   Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

(You can see where that was going!)

And OK, I’m not suggesting that we should set out to eat or drink ourselves to death. I just think maybe we need to concern ourselves rather less with a balanced diet and rather more with developing a balanced attitude to the few years we’ve got.

 All together now: Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think….

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18 Comments:

  1. Nicely put. I’m still in the dark over spuds, though. Are they okay to eat now? Or eggs, what’s the story there? There have been so many about-turns on those two foodstuffs that I’ve got whiplash from trying to keep up.

    AS the old saw has it: “Giving up drinking won’t make you live longer; it’ll just feel that way.”

    • AS the old saw has it: “Giving up drinking won’t make you live longer; it’ll just feel that way.”

      Quite. The new plague of course is anxiety, largely produced by daily warnings about all the things that can kill you.

  2. What the hell is cholesterol anyway?

    It’s a steriod. Think of it as a kind of waterproofing for your cells.

    • It’s a steriod. Think of it as a kind of waterproofing for your cells.

      Then how come it can kill you? More bad design from Him Upstairs? Like putting the oesophagus next to the trachea.

  3. The story of Arnold Ehret is sobering reading for all those diet conscious people amongst us.He died at the age of 56 after a life of strict diet.He slipped and fell and fractured his skull causing death.

    • The story of Arnold Ehret is sobering reading for all those diet conscious people amongst us.He died at the age of 56 after a life of strict diet.He slipped and fell and fractured his skull causing death.

      Hmmm. But was it the diet that made him slip and fall? Too many legumes possibly.

  4. My Mum ate well and fed we kids with whatever was available: meat, vegies including swede (Yuk!?!) pudding and until she quietly quickly died at 97 she was still a healthy lady, as are we, her five “kids” all over 70. In the genes?
    The moral? All things in moderation and careful avoidance of food advice.

    • My Mum ate well and fed we kids with whatever was available: meat, vegies including swede (Yuk!?!) pudding and until she quietly quickly died at 97 she was still a healthy lady, as are we, her five “kids” all over 70.

      Great stuff. I learn from Thomas Keneally’s The Great Shame that it is possible to live on potatoes and nothing else.

  5. I have lasted three score and ten by steadfastly ingesting the three major food groups..chocolate, alcohol and caffeine. Works so far!

  6. Baz: The definition of Optimism is when you fall off the roof of a 10 story building. As you fall past an open window at about the 5th floor you spot some mates and yell out to them, “All right so far!”

  7. “Great stuff. I learn from Thomas Keneally’s The Great Shame that it is possible to live on potatoes and nothing else”.

    Jim Bolger is living testamont to that.

  8. Alright, then. You’ve asked for it. It’s time to check out http://www.westonaprice.org

    Co-Founder – Mary Enig, Ph.D.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_G._Enig

    Co-Founder – Sally Fallon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weston_A._Price_Foundation

  9. Err..testament, I meant.
    Hey, but don’t youse get me wrong — I like a spud (or three) with my roast dinner.

  10. I’m young, I’m young, I’m young. I know I’m less aged than BE coz I’ve seen him on the tele. And hear him on the radio with Jim of a noon. And I’m younger than BAZ. I eat salmon, brocoli, spinnach, porridge and muesli too. I’m enlightened… I work in media, I’m widely read. I just wish I could pee. Its the anxiety!

  11. A timely-written article. One of life’s greatest pleasures is to eat well. And you can not live well if you are a vegetarian. Meat, fish, poultry are life-giving essentials to a balanced diet. They nourish not only the body but also the mind and the soul.

    I was very saddened to hear of a noted Herald columnist who recently made the proclamation of turning her back on eating meat, and has decided to become a vegetarian. One can only pray she comes to her senses, quickly, and she sets aside her rash and foolish decision. Just as the actress Drew Barrymore has done.

    I can think of nothing more depressing than to have to live on legumes, tofu, wholegrain bread, veges, fruit, nuts, seeds and thistles. I would rather not live.