Please Don ’t Eat the Wallpaper!
by Nancy Irven
Subtitled “The Teenager’s Guide to Avoiding Trans Fats, Enriched Wheat and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” this little book reminds us that white flour, the chief ingredient in bread, cake, crackers, pasta and thousands of other processed foods, can also be used to make glue for wallpaper. Irven then shocks us with real life examples of student meal diaries—it’s a wonder these kids are even alive with their diets of sodas, gum, candy bars, chips, pretzels and breakfast cereals. Irven is a chiropractic physician and her book describes her efforts to help high school students improve their diets. They learn the many reasons to avoid white flour, industrial fats and refined sweeteners; how to read labels; and how to make healthier choices, such as butter, meat, eggs and honey.
The THUMB is UP on this excellent introduction to the dangers of processed foods, although the book is not without flaws. Irvin refers to trans fats as “plastic,” which is a misinterpretation of “plasticization,” a technical term used in the food processing industry to describe treatments that change the characteristics of margarines and spreads. And while praising saturated fats, she argues that marbled steak is not good for us. Overall, however, Irven has accomplished a Herculean task, that of getting the attention of modern teenagers, hellbent for physical degeneration. She provides practical advice and real life examples of beneficial dietary changes that teenagers can actually accomplish, albeit against tremendous odds.
“I’m so very glad that you spent your time to teach my class and me about all these nasty foods we are eating on a daily basis,” writes one of Irven’s students. “But you didn’t leave it there. You taught us even more—by explaining all the healthy foods we could eat and how much they helped.” From a modern teenager, that’s high praise!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2010.