FOOD FOR HEALTH

What a complicated job eating has become. We understand that food is central to wellness. We know we can’t expect to gain health and vitality if we fill our bodies with toxic food. This sounds so simple but how do we know which foods are healthy? Not so many years ago we were warned about drinking sugar-laden soft drinks and eating fattening snacks. Today, it seems everything, according to some expert or other, is bad for us including our drinking water.

The only time we get truly home grown produce, blemishes and all, is on a visit to a traditional farm.

So much of the information we receive is driven by economics and profit-driven research not health. Who’s funding the research that tells us we absolutely must eat the ten pounds of kale every day, or what ever the product, in order to find health? Forty years ago I used to grow kale and served it often as an interesting alternative to peas and carrots but I didn’t drink it instead of orange juice in the morning.

So often we have been mislead into thinking food is either good or bad. How many of us gave up eggs and white bread and certainly butter in favor of “healthy” foods like margarine, egg substitutes and dense grain breads that a horse would have trouble chewing. I remember reading an article about a substitute that was advertised as the answer to the dreaded butter. The article stated that the reason this fat substitute worked was because the body didn’t recognize it as food. What did it think this substitute was, I wondered? Today, butter and white bread are back on the menu and everyone knows that eggs have many essential nutrients to round out our diet.

Which Diet?

Current diets designed to improve health are everywhere. Diets, such as paleo, ketogenic and total vegan, each backed by eminent scientists and doctors, present a conflicting array of options. Any of these diets, if they are adhered to properly, may offer the benefits claimed. The tendency, however, is to fit the new program into old habits rather than making fundamental changes. Beer, after all, is vegan!

Marketers further add to the confusion by coming out with products, cookbooks, even cookware designed to make us believe in the legitimacy of the “break-through” diet. I’m told that in Iceland keto has become a huge business, as it has in North America, and as an Icelandic friend told me recently,” You can’t buy a cauliflower here for love nor money”.

Fooling Around With Our Food

Much of our food today is being engineered for economic rather than nutritional benefits. Genetic engineering and the use of chemicals are but two ways used to extend the growing season, to make produce more resistant to disease, and yes, to improve aesthetic appeal. You won’t find a tomato on the supermarket shelf that isn’t perfectly round and red. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables certainly have longer shelf life and provide higher profits for growers but at what cost to the consumer? The only time we get truly home grown produce, blemishes and all, is on a visit to a traditional farm.

Surprisingly statistics show that processed foods, chemically treated water and other modern practices have not reduced our life span. In fact we are living much longer than even a generation ago. There is, however, serious concern that what we are eating plays a major role in the rise of chronic illness. With so much confusing information from “experts” and compelling ads from marketers, what are we to do?

From my personal experience I’ve concluded that it isn’t so much the diet you choose but your commitment to making changes that matters. Without this resolve, you will sample every new diet that comes along and never achieve the wellness you desire.

Taking Action

Some changes will be tough, but here are some common sense ways of getting the most out of food.

Balance what you eat.

A variety of fruits and vegetables that include all colors and types of produce will help ensure that you are receiving not only the obvious nutrients but hidden phytonutrients essential for a healthy body.

Pay attention to how you eat.

Eating a satisfying amount at each meal rather than the starve-and-binge syndrome. This allows your body to digest your food properly. Savor each mouthful rather than standing at the sink, wolfing down a sandwich as you grab your brief case and run out the door.

 Stop obsessing with food.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given when first diagnosed with diabetes was “never say never”. Once in a while, allow yourself a decadent dessert or a coveted candy. Food has traditionally been a source of enjoyment and the main feature in many celebrations so don’t beat yourself up because you crave the comfort of food.

Take time to plan your meals

Get off your cell phone and do some serious meal planning. This is something I struggle with. I may not feel like having fish on Tuesday or I may be too tired to cook one Thursday. Even if you don’t adhere religiously to your plan, it’s worth the effort in terms of both your health and your budget. It is not cheap to eat healthy. Attaching labels like glutin-free, lite, lactose free and so on seems to automatically up the price of the item. Sometimes it’s important to follow these labels, but unless you have a diagnosed allergy or serious resistance to the food, you may be paying for nothing more than what you’d get in the discount bin.

Listen to your own body.

For most of us it isn’t easy to recognize what our body is telling us. With effort and time, however, we can become attuned to our body’s needs. Here is where we may need the help of a good nutritionist. Health food stores often have excellent people on staff to you. But remember no diet expert knows your body like you do.

Something to Think About

If cauliflower can be pizza, anything is possible.

peppers

Getting the most out of eating is complicated. Competing diets and information are often misleading.

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Susanne Eden

1 Comment

  1. Janis on November 30, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Well said, my friend!

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