The older I get, the more I’m concerned about my body than when I was, say, 21 and spent the night consuming large quantities of pepperoni pizza and even larger quantities of Ballantine Ale.

I’m not exactly sure why my lifestyle changed, although I suspect someone, probably my mother, started praying that I make it past 30. The prayers were answered, and I started consuming large quantities of kale and broccoli rabe so that instead of acid reflux, I was afflicted with explosive gastrointestinal pain. But it was a healthy feeling. Life, as they say, is about choices … and Pepto-Bismol.
In recent years, I’ve made a conscious choice to eat healthy, or as the grammarians would say, healthfully. For example, one thing that’s no longer in our refrigerator, in addition to Ballantine Ale, is soda. At the supermarket, we don’t even stroll down the soda aisle because it’s the wrong side of the tracks. Being holier than thou, we scoff at people who fill their carts with two-liter containers of Coke when it’s on sale for $1 a bottle.
And I NEVER eat fast food … unless my wife, the self-appointed food warden, is out of town. Then, I can relax, lighten up and enjoy a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich, a Big Mac and a large order of fries in the privacy of my car, hidden at the back of the parking lot where no one can see me with my hoodie pulled over my head. A fundamental principle that was first articulated by Plato, or maybe it was Bill Clinton, is that some things may be bad for you, but that’s why they taste so good.
I recently read that actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has transformed herself into an outspoken lifestyle guru, said she’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese. Now, that’s a powerful statement from a committed woman, a woman who loves to tell us what to eat and when to eat it.
I’ve never smoked crack and never plan to, but I’ve eaten enough cheese to finance a year or two of snow removal for the state of Vermont, which is probably why my cholesterol is high. However, I can’t image life without ricotta pie, cannoli, and fried mozzarella. For me, the choice is simple: If it comes down to cheese or crack, gimme the provolone.

What I find troubling is that many of the foods the so-called experts once said were bad for you are now considered good, which leads me to question their intelligence. Who’s running this country anyway? Where do Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on this issue? What about the great scientific minds — the Galileos, the Edisons, the Colonel Sanders and the fellow who invented Pepto-Bismol?
There’s a lot of revisionist health advice floating around in cyberspace. For example, I was reading a story from a website called “eatthis.com,” which claimed foods previously considered bad for you have been rehabilitated and now possess magical properties we never knew existed during ancient times, like six months ago.

The list included eggs with the yolk, butter (I guess it’s time to stop spraying I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on my baked potato), nuts (I live on almonds and walnuts because they allegedly help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s), bacon (three months ago a U.N. agency announced that bacon is as bad as tobacco and wanted to institute a worldwide ban), whole milk and red meat in moderation.

I was discouraged to see that chili dogs have not made the “good for you” list yet, but in a year or two, I’m sure some visionary dietician whose research is funded by the International Chili Dog Manufacturers Association will discover they prevent joint decay and cataracts in addition to promoting longevity and a faithful, sex-filled marriage. And while we’re on the topic, what about Gummy Bears and Skittles? They must have some as yet undiscovered health benefits, too.

Most Americans have terrible diets, which is why we have an obesity epidemic in this country, so in the interests of healthier living and a healthier economy, I recommend chili dogs for everyone, along with buttered popcorn, with real butter please, and a large eggnog with some schnapps. Let’s be realistic. You can only eat so much kale and quinoa. Every once in a while you have to enjoy yourself. Just leave the crack for Gwyneth Paltrow.

Contact Joe Pisani at [email protected]

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