Food...it's a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, in America we have a largely unhealthy view of it. We equate food with "guilt" and talk about enjoying it as if it's something sinful. One of the biggest culprits, in America's collective mind, is FAT. Fat is an evil to be avoided at all costs. It makes sense after all...if we stop eating fat, we won't get fat! And so, with our wonderful technology we turned our food into science experiments and extracted the fat, and replaced it with chemicals to add some flavor. Mmmm...yum. Chemically altered food.
One would think that after coming up with an abundance of chemically altered foods with low fat and no fat, we'd start shrinking, right? But that hasn't happened...in fact, the obesity has only gotten worse since the war on fat started. So we moved on to obsessing about calories, or carbs...if we only make more science experiments by taking out calories and carbs and call them food, we'll surely start shrinking then! Again, this doesn't seem to have worked. So what's the problem?
The problem is we're looking at food as if it's a science experiment. The problem is, instead of learning some self control, people want to be able to eat as much as they possibly can without the consequences. (Hmmm...sound familiar? *cough* contraceptive mentality *cough*) But by trying to separate real food from its natural nourishment, they're not only compromising their health, they're missing out on a beautiful thing!
Take a look at the French...their obesity rate is much, MUCH lower than the American obesity rate. Are they known for their chemically altered "faux food"? Do they obsess about the fat/calorie/carb content of any given food? NO!(You'll be out of luck if you want to find nutritional info on a lot of foods in France!) They're known for fresh, real, delicious, rich, naturally good food. The difference is, they know how to eat it! They know how to savor it, how to enjoy it, and most importantly, when to stop.
There are plenty of other things Americans need to learn...for instance, that pouring sugar (whether it's fake or real) down our throats during a meal and calling it a drink is just wrong. That wolfing down our food like there's a chance it's going to leap off the plate is not a good thing. That eating "empty foods" all day is simply not going to curb hunger. But I think the number one thing they need to learn is moderation.
It's ok to enjoy some naturally rich ice cream, it's ok to enjoy mashed potatoes made with real butter and sour cream, it's ok to enjoy delicious cheese...don't be afraid of fat in food! We NEED fat to survive! But don't overdo it either, enjoy it in moderation.
A recommended book, which goes into this plus much more in great detail is The Fat Fallacy. (It's along the same lines as French Women Don't Get Fat, but I found it to have more practical info...there are even recipes in the back!)