Many of you may have read this article from Yahoo Health that went up two days ago. It’s the sad tale of British teen Stacey Irvine who collapsed and was rushed to the hospital with severe breathing problems.
Turns out what was wrong with her was that since she was two years old – that’s fifteen years, folks – Irvine has subsisted on a diet of Chicken McNuggets meals. That’s pretty much it. Just incredibly processed, deep-fried chicken nuggets and fries, with an occasional slice of toast or handful of potato chips to mix things up. No leafy greens, no root veggies that aren’t fried potatoes, no fruit, no fish, no red meat, no pulses: nada else.
As a result, Irvine suffers from anemia and swollen veins in her tongue. Clearly what she was doing was not good for her health.
But what interests me is the fact that the article seems to focus on the badness of Chicken McNuggets as opposed to what was really wrong with Irvine’s diet: she was eating only one thing and had done so for fifteen years.
In many ways, what shocks me the most about this story isn’t that eating nothing but Chicken McNuggets is bad for you, but the fact that she managed to get along on that and so very little else for so freaking long.
Even proponents of fad diets based around a single food, such as grapefruit or cabbage soup, only recommend you stay on them for roughly a week at a time and then stop for at least a couple weeks. For my money, that’s a great big flashing red warning sign to stay away from that diet. After all, if it were healthy to eat nothing but grapefruit, you wouldn’t have to stop so quickly or give it as long a rest, would you?
In a more nuanced article at CBS News, it’s pointed out that even if what Irvine had been eating every day to the exclusion of all other foods had been something generally recognized as healthy, such as carrots, she would still be suffering ill effects on her health because no single food item can fulfill all of a person’s nutritional needs.
So if you like McNuggets, eat the freaking McNuggets. Just make sure you eat something else once in a while, too. And if you like carrots, eat the freaking carrots… and make sure you eat something else once in a while, too.
It’s not what food you eat that makes it unhealthy: it’s eating only one food.
Variety isn’t just the spice of life. It’s also good for you.