Around this time of year, a lot of attention is paid to health. It fills the lifestyle sections of newspapers. It's discussed endlessly in "news" show segments and morning programs. And, of course, there are oodles of magazines and books on the subject.
I'm not against health. I think it's ok. But in the U.S., health is not a state of being. It's an industry. And like all industries, the health folks are out to hook us and reel us in.
Take those shoes with the rocking soles that are supposed to give your legs a workout as you walk in them. Any shoes that get you to walk more are good for your health. Want more of a workout? Wear heavier shoes.
By the way, these shoes are often called MBT shoes. That stands for "Masai Barefoot Technology." In what universe is "barefoot technology" not an oxymoron?
How about diet and weight-loss programs that crop up every month? I think there's really only one diet rule you need to follow:
If you know you shouldn't eat something, don't eat it.
Let's face it ... you know that slice of pecan pie a la mode is not going to improve your circulation. You know the Brussels sprouts and asparagus are a lot better for you than the chocolate chip muffin and the non-dairy dessert topping. These books and articles aren't telling you anything new. And they're not going to have any new tricks for getting you to follow the rule.
[Added Jan. 13, 2011]
And just in case you don't know what to eat or not eat, there's a wonderfully useless graphic called the food pyramid.
The food pyramid was always a pretty strained metaphor. The idea was that since the top of a pyramid is smaller than the base, the bad foods go at the top, because you're supposed to eat less of them, and the good foods go nearer the base. Get it? The bad foods go at the top? The apex? The peak of the pyramid? Unfortunately, we normally associate the peak of something with good or winning.
But it doesn't matter, because later revisions of this graphic abandon any connection with a pyramid whatsoever. It's still called that because that's the USDA's idea of marketing. Food pyramid. Catchy, huh? So now, the diagram is really a bar graph, wedged into the shape of a triangle just so they can still call it a pyramid. Your tax dollars at work.
Yet the media keep bombarding us with interviews, book reviews, discussions, etc. about how to stay healthy. Want to stay healthy? Turn off the TV, put down the magazine, and get moving.