Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 12.09.06
Stanstead, Quebec


Is there enough guilt in your diet?

Last night I ate some Cheese Nips. These were American-brand Cheese Nips, which means they were extra cheesier than the Canadian version.

If there's one thing the US has excelled at more than any other it's cheese-flavour augmentation. In fact, the Soviet Union threw in the towel primarily because they could not achieve cheese-injection supremacy.

Each little square of cracker was bursting with not one but four cheese flavours. You could actually see layers of cheesiness - a cheery cheddar coating, ridges redolent with romano, palatable platelets of parmesan, and mouth-watering molecules of mozzarella.

Then I looked at the ingredients. Just a few words shorter than the Gettysburg Address. You've heard all the names of the scary ingredients before so I won't repeat them here. But I have come up with a rule of thumb: if your list of ingredients includes more than one X, Y, or Z, it's probably not good for you.

There aren't too many natural foods with X, Y or Z in them. Turkey. That's one of the few I can think of. And turkeys scare me anyway. Yams, too.

I only had a handful of crackers, unlike my son who regularly gets more than his daily recommended allowance of trizanthiumyne extract. But I still felt guilty.

I've been feeling guilty ever since I heard a nutritionist speak last week on healthy living and good eating habits. I learned quite a bit.

I learned, for instance, that unsaturated fats can be useful and that saturated fats can eventually lead to the inability to pronounce the word "Szechwan."

I also learned that though I am skinny on the outside, I may actually be obese on the inside. Every ounce of junk I eat is sticking to my arteries. I have an entire pizza in my aorta. But I wear it well.

And cheese (back to cheese), cheese that I thought did a body good - in fact, I say to James, "You need dairy. Have some cheese. No, Doritos don't count." It turns out that the speaker, while discussing Canada's Food Guide, put cheese in the junk food category.

Et tu, bleu?

And I'm totally messed up in my grain intake. According to the Food Guide, I should be eating between 5 and 112 servings of grain product a day. And get this: cake doesn't count.

In fact, the health specialist negated not just cake but muffins, turnovers, croissants, and anything good for breakfast. He didn't mention Double Choc-Lat Pop Tarts by name but I have a feeling they're out.

Everything is topsy-turvy. My fruits and vegetables are in inverse proportion to my meat and alternatives (again, not Doritos).

Consequently, for the past week I've been second-guessing everything I eat. I've been reading labels, eyeballing ingredients, paying disproportionate attention to portions.

Should I have a cup of tea this afternoon and get a mild boost of caffeine?

Or should I select green tea, with its cleansing, stress-relieving anti-oxidants and fall asleep on my laptop keyboard?

Or should I throw caution to the wind, have a cup of coffee and sacrifice another year of life for another hour of actual concentration?

I already feel guilty about food for political reasons. There's increasing awareness, for example, that beef products are assembled by child labourers who are paid Tofutti sundaes in lieu of wages.

As well, I read somewhere that every time you eat a burger, an angel loses its wings. It's that awful.

Then there was that highly successful documentary Supersize Me. The filmmaker ate McDonald's for a month and died! Or something.

Maybe I don't have all my facts straight. But I do know that for someone who loves his food it's no fun counting your Nips.