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Books: The new white bread?

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Mon Apr 04 2005

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White bread is wonderful. Our parents and their parents swore by it as key to our diet. It is part of our culture, depicted in oil paintings, discussed in epic poetry. Preparing bread is a cultural milestone from our own Paleolithic history. Just mentioning a great baguette, brioche, or even peasant bread makes my mouth water. It is the base of our current prescribed food pyramid.

And yet we are learning that it might not be the perfect food. The process of preparing white flour might take out much of what was good in it. The results is something that tricks our body into thinking it is getting nourishment, while spiking and upsetting parts of our own internal chemical balance.

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White bread is still a fabulous treat, and it fits nicely into a healthy diet. But to go overboard with it results in bloat rather than health.

That brings me to books. We are very proud of books. Many have a religious zeal about them, especially those old enough to remember when they were very scarce. We all have books that transformed us, that helped make us who we are today. There is no better way of transferring someone else's internal monologue than a good book. They teach us empathy and respect. We also get facts, allowing us to make more informed decisions.

And yet, as we try to take what we have read and apply it to real situations in an attempt to get a desired result, we are starting to have our own Atkins "aha's." We become increasingly aware of what they don't contain, as much as what they do contain. We love the buzz of a good book, like a good vacation, but hate the transition back to our world.

And, we start to look at computer games and simulations, not as whole wheat bread necessarily, but something with elements that we know we need.

Enough. I am off to read the morning paper and get a bagel.

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