Who remembers Carnation Instant Breakfast? You just needed to add milk or water to these nutritious, artificially-flavored, sugar-laden meals-in-a-packet. My mother drank them before she took off for work. I drank them before I took off for school. We both tolerated the taste in the spirit of fast, nutritious and calorie conscious consumption. It's still in the marketplace along with an assorted other liquid meal options.
Flash forward. Today, I dread the idea of liquid meals. They remind me of being ill or watching my sick father consume Ensure (also a nutrient-dense but sugar-laden drink) during his hospice days. Sure, I enjoy drinking smoothies, sipping soups and hydrating with fresh juices. But I also find pleasure through mastication, so I can't tolerate the idea of a living on a liquid-intense diet for my nutrients.
What amazes me is all the smart, healthy people who are turning to liquid meals as replacements for the real deal meal. My inbox is flooded with offers and books on juicing-detox diets. The health food stores stock shelves filled with powdered concoctions to boost your metabolism, add protein and help detox your system.
The last straw to hit me is an article in the May 25, 2015, edition of The New York Times on how time-pressed Silicon Alley entrepreneurs and wonks are drinking liquid meals by the gallons. Who has time to eat when you're working on the next big tech thing? This quote really struck a nerve with me:
"The time wasted by eating is, in Silicon Valley parlance, a 'pain point' even for the highest echelon of techie. Elon Musk, Tesla's founder, once said, "If there was a way that I couldn't eat so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal."
This is comment from someone who is considered a thought leader. I'd like to see him put the brakes on the idea that eating is a waste of time. In auto talk: Eating provides fuel for your body. Why would you put second rate fuel in a first rate body?
Too busy to eat? What kind of message does that send? More important, think about the cracks it puts in the family table, the art of dinner conversation and the pure pleasure of consuming a great meal?
Juicing loyalists says a fresh liquid diet boosts your energy, cleanses your system and makes your skin glow. I've tried juicing, meal replacements, energy boosting drinks and protein packs all in the spirit of health and wellness. I'm not knocking what I haven't tried, and I really have tried to go the juicing route. I just don't find the appeal of a liquid meal as pleasurable as eating -- and chewing -- real food. I'd rather boost my energy taking a walk outside, doing yoga, getting a good night's sleep and eating a delicious meal prepared with farm fresh vegetables and fruits and lean proteins.
I'll take a gnaw over a straw any day, I enjoying masticating my food and plan to do so until the day comes when I have no teeth. Chew on that!