You Are Going to Die

You Are Going to Die (cheeseburger photo by lilechka75)

A couple years ago the World Health Organization published a study revealing that red meat, and especially processed meat, is more harmful than they originally thought. Ever since reading that, I’ve had second thoughts when eating red meat, or when I see Daniel buying a package of beef jerky. The study revealed that consumption of processed meats, like bacon or hot dogs, can increase the risk of cancer by 18%. According to Dr. Kurt Straif, “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but the risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.”

I remember my first thought after reading this news was, Welp, there goes my enjoyment of meat! And then, just as soon as that thought entered my head, I thought of Shake Shack, and my throat started to close trying to consider giving it up. Over the past year, I have continued to eat red meat, deli meats, and of course, bacon, and I sometimes wonder if I’m eating too much. But I try to remember that many things in life have the potential to cause some harm, and living a balanced life means accepting that not all of our decisions can be 100% safe.

These days, with the mountains of information and scientific studies that come out about health and diet—often contradicting each other—it can feel overwhelming trying to decide on the right things to do. One day you hear red wine is good for you, and the next it’s a warning to avoid alcohol at all costs. Sitting will kill you; standing isn’t much better; exercise will injure you; bacon will give you cancer. We all turn into Ponce de Leon trying to adjust our lifestyle to live forever.

The only truth is, we are going to die. Obsessing over the minutiae of health information is not healthy living—at least not for me. I try to live a life of balance and moderation. I eat very little processed meat, but occasionally I’ll eat bacon on my burger or I’ll have a hotdog at a cookout. Life isn’t a controlled scientific study. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to accept some small increased risk in exchange for happiness and comfort.

If you eat processed meat every day, yes, consider cutting down. If the findings of the study lead you to decide to stop eating red meat entirely, that, too, is perfectly fine for you to do. We all have to weigh our our health and our happiness and our peace of mind. Try to find a path that is mostly healthy and mostly comfortable and hopefully you’ll be walking it for a very, very long time.



13 thoughts on “You Are Going to Die

  1. Lynn

    I needed these words today. I’m experimenting with foods right now to see what is best for my body, and I’m a bit in awe of how much seemingly well-researched ( or at the very least, well intended ) info there is out there that is incongruent from one source to the next. It can be frustrating and overwhelming. Thank you for this timely reminder!

  2. Kathy

    Betty White turned 95 years old this month. For lunch everyday she eats a hot dog and french fries. She says :
    “I should follow better eating health rules,” “But hot dogs and Red Vines and potato chips and French fries are my favorite foods.”
    She also loves vodka on the rocks with lots of lemon. I love her. She chose to keep active, do what she loves, eat what she loves and not worry about the constant changing of advice from the so called experts

  3. Lana

    I think the most important point is what you titled this because we ARE all going to die….from something. Eat and enjoy what you like and all in moderation! Great post, btw!

  4. Isa

    Oh well…. Put a vegan and Paleo diet follower together – which to me illustrate some perfect black and white ways of thinking about food and health – and they will both share excellent points about what we “should” eat to be healthy and why. While being at the opposite sides of the spectrum, they will both firmly believe that their diet is the best and that this other person’s diet will just kill them… Who really knows what is right and what is wrong? Nutrition is such a young specialty. Researchs keep evolving and the conclusions keep changing. So I say : do what feels best for you and let go all the “food rules” a little bit. Being stressed is also really bad for our health. And fear of food = stress!

  5. Elizabeth Sienna

    Your article is very useful! I think we must rethink the use of red meat as well as meat for a healthier life. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jennifer H.

    Thanks for this! I have said this for years! Quite a while ago, there was an article out that tomatoes were the worst food out there. Not 6 months later there was another article on all of the health benefits of tomatoes. I decided right then, that I would eat what I want in moderation. It’s great to hear other people say the same thing!

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