Time for the second pillar to health, we have ticked off movement. The second pillar is nutrition. Food. The things that are going in your mouth (insert long list of jokes here).
Everyone has a theory on nutrition and everyone has a recommended diet that worked for them, everyone is also insistent on you trying it because surely you will get a similar result- nutrition is that easy- right?
A philosopher of the old school, often considered the father of modern medicine Hippocrates suggests “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”.
The quote itself is equally beautiful as it is simple. Likely it is beautiful because it is so simple. Combine Hippocrates wisdom with Ann Wigmore’s belief that “the food you eat can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
As a society however we have strayed so, so far away from these simple ideas as we have collectively moved towards a population that celebrates gluttony and uses food to treat emotional variances- add to that the hand in hand nature we have with celebration and junk foods.
Somewhere along the line we took the simple out of food. We strayed from the foods that grew in the earth, swam in the sea, grew on trees and roamed the land and moved to heavily processed fortified foods.
Planet earth now has over seven and a half billion people calling our world home- no doubt this puts an enormous strain on our natural resources with already an enormous percentage of the population starving something clearly had to change.
Me personally, I just don’t believe that plastic wrapping and cardboard boxing mad made foods is the answer- but I don’t have a better solution at this point.
Western culture is becoming increasingly time poor- we are willing to pay an enormous price for a wage. We work harder to buy bigger houses, faster cars, fancier holidays and a nicer suit. More expenses mean more debt and today more debt means more work and so the cycle continues.
When it comes to eating we are very quick to sacrifice money to save time. Buying the frozen meal, Thai from the shops, a pack of donuts or another food of a man made nature.
These decisions are the slow acting poison that wreak havoc on our cells, our digestive health, our overall health and on a visual level our physique.
It seems an outrageous thing to believe- but for many, sitting down for a meal is almost an inconvenience. Many of the people coming to our facility are chronic under eaters where it is alarmingly common to have a coffee and croissant for breakfast and then realize at three in the afternoon they haven’t eaten since.
Take a guess what happens later on in the evening?
No prizes for the correct answer (saaarrrryyyy) but it is binge city. No carbohydrate rich food within a 400m radius of your kitchen is safe. It is this cycle of binge, starve, binge starve that creates imbalance in metabolism and your body’s chemistry and repeated for months or years can have a devastating effect on your long term health.
Our time poor lifestyles influence our eating habits, as do our food decisions. It could be argued that changes in the way we “live” also contribute.
Over the years our societal structures have changed from small scale communities or tribes where a meal was the event bringing all people together to enjoy a hunt or harvest, to towns and cities where an extended family would come together for meals regularly to nowadays where it is almost common place to eat a meal on our own in front of the TV.
Removing the enjoyment from our food has allowed for mindless, or even bored consumption of food to sneak in. We over consume foods that lack nutrients. We snack. We feast. We rush. We scoff.
As I write this I am concerned I’m sounding a little more cynical than normal, I’ve changed my scenery around and find myself working from the National Library- perhaps it has triggered me to think a little more. I apologize for the tangents and endeavour to get back on to the straight and narrow.
The thing is it’s easy to criticize all that is wrong with our food, but if I’m going to complain I need to at least try and come up with a solution- whether it makes a difference who knows.
Step One - Learn to Cook
Nobody expects you to become the next Gordon Ramsey but the better you learn the basics, the better your food tastes and this adds more enjoyment to your meals so you will take a little more time to enjoy them.
Get really good and you will be eager to show off and cook for someone else and now you’re bringing community back around your meals.
You don’t need to kit your kitchen out with top of the line products and all the gear you’re able to fit but again the basics make life a little easier- get a good sized chopping block, a good knife and keep it sharp, a couple of good quality pans (one fry, one saucepan at least) and you are well on your way.
Step Two - Get to know your food
Where does it come from? How is it grown? Who grows it? Is it in season? What does it go well with?
Start asking these questions and once you start to really listen to the answers you are given in return you start to change the way you buy and ultimately consume your food.
One of the great issues with our food is overall wastage and over production. I’m guilty of wasting food just as many of us are- but if we made wiser consumer decisions buying only what we need rather than what we want as we shop with an empty belly- we may not need to produce so much which would take an enormous load off of our environment, or alternatively allows for more food to be shared among those who need it most.
Step Three - Learn to eat intuitively
Forget about what the botox filled TV food expert is recommending you to consume- start to pay attention to how your food choices make you feel. This goes beyond tired or energetic. But how is cognitive function, how is job performance, training and sporting performance as well. How does your skin look and feel, your energy levels and libido.
How are you pooping even.
Pay attention to these things and your food choices start to represent what your body best functions on. Notice that eating processed meats makes you feel rubbish but fish is no dramas? Then lean towards the good and leave the less ideal to an occasional food item.
Step Four - Scrap “Cheat” Meals
There is no food equivalent to being the banker in Monopoly, broccoli is not your girlfriend- you cannot cheat on food. Leave the idea of a “cheat meal” behind. There isn’t any need for a cheat meal for 90% of the population- probably more realistically.
The idea of a cheat meal is that after a period of calorie restriction, the bodies glycogen stores are depleted and it is time to replenish. You’re “meant” to go for large servings of high quality carbohydrates such as potato, sweet potato, honey etc.
However the common cheat meal is a license to ingest outrageous amounts of food much more likely to be found in the confectionary, baked or ice cream section of your supermarket.
It pays to allow for the inclusion of these foods occasionally, but more in line with the psychological needs than physical. If you’re on top of the first three steps and are fuelling your body with great foods you will be feeling great and are less likely to even want them anyway.
Since the birth of diets and nutrition products promising the world the waters of healthy eating have been muddied to the point nobody is overly interested in entering them at all.
The solution is simple - the solution, is education.