The More time and research I put into my own personal health and nutrition the more concerned I get about the state of our supermarkets and health in general.
Here is a statement that American nutritional experts are now siting
33% of Children born today will not outlive their parents due to their diets.
1 in 3! scary… and the truth is the UK is not far behind maybe a generation at most.
For me Nutrition is two fold. I will admit (and this will come as a massive surprise to you I am sure) I am image conscious and want to look my best. However this is not actually the driving factor behind my eating choices because I do believe you can maintain a good physique – shape on a less then completely healthy diet. How many people do you know that you say to “god how do they stay in such good shape? I swear they live on chocolate and sarnies!”
So no, the driving factor for me is health. Feeling good and being well. I believe being healthy is not the absence of disease but feeling your best full of vigour and energy. Giving yourself the best chance of living a full uninhibited life.
Unfortunately there is a problem and it’s a biggie. Trying to eat healthy is a bloody minefield. The reason for this is multi faceted. Firstly we have the media – The media, for want of a better phrase couldnt give two shits about our health. They care about selling magazines and papers. They know that coming out with new diets, fads, celebrity get fit quick tapes etc sells and whether there is any scientific proof behind them is about as relevant to them as whether the person buying it is wearing jogging bottoms or scratched their backside as they flick through the pages.
The other problem is the people that make the guidelines! whether it’s the “food pyramid” which is basically the opposite of what we should be doing or the brilliant Traffic lights that represent a bag of nuts as RED DANGER!!! STAY AWAY!!! ONE NUT AND YOU WILL BE SO HIDEOUSLY FAT YOU WILL BE DISOWNED BY ALL YOU KNOW and instead have a nice packet of quavers they are yellow and green for go, safe for all to consume as many cheesy quaffs of indeterminate e-numbers and msg as you can crunch down by the handful. I mean it’s literal madness.
(in the western world) It is now CHEAPER to become overweight and unhealthy… think of that. Cheaper to be overweight. It sounds crazy but it’s true. Statistics show that the majority of families that are on the breadline (pun-intended) are overweight. How has it come to the stage.
Now don’t get me wrong, Im not some sort of conspiracist that thinks the government are trying to read our thoughts whilst hiding aliens in our community centres and perhaps the queens a lizard, so I will go to bed at night wearing a hat made from aluminium foil. But I can tell you what I do believe. I believe that money dictates most things. I know corn is the cheapest and most mass produced food in the world. I know Corn and Soy are basically the basis of almost everything on our supermarket shelves. So obviously the government is going to give corn, wheats etc the green light, regardless of the fact its causing obesity, diabetes and draining the money back out of the other end of the NHS!
In the 1940’s they first started prescribing to obese people to cut carbohydrates from their diet and recommended eating mainly protein and fats with as many vegetables as they liked and guess what… it worked.
Then sometime in the 80’s they (somehow and no matter how much reading I do I can not find how) decided that Fat increases “bad cholesterol” and is killing us all and making us fat! Not really backed up with any real evidence it made it into our culture and now we all believe that we should avoid fat to avoid being fat…
Fat does not make you fat
This is actually a simple fact and really it’s one of the few things amongst qualified nutritionalists today that is undisputed and yet it’s not a message that is filtering down into our public guidelines. It is so inbuilt into our psyche not to eat fat that I have to admit to even questioning it myself, When I set myself up with a food plan that according to the governing bodies means i am eating the guideline amount of fat for a family of 6! Even though I know better. So when people are looking for answers it does not surprise me that they fall into this trap. Fat actually facilitates fat loss! as crazy as that may sound.
So what the blooming heck should we be eating?
My thoughts are always the same when it comes to my posts. I hate preaching – eat this not that, dont eat this dont eat that (although its basically exactly what I do). Instead I would prefer to encourage people to gain an understanding of nutrition and make their own choices based on that.
Here is what I understand;
The first homo gene (snigger) was the Homo erectus (double snigger) The homo erectus was the first being that was anatomically, from the head down basically the same as us. The Homo erectus started out in africa and spread to northern Europe to areas that went six months of the year unable to support plant growth. So what this tells us is that right from the get go meat has been a part of our diet. The fats and omega 3 in meats allowed us to grow bigger brains and more sophistication and essentially is the corner stone of allowing us to develop into homo sapions (Humans) – The first of which again was in africa and move from there towards Australia and so on. At every stage evidence (unquestionable evidence) has shown that from that first point 2 million years ago right up to just over 70,000 years ago when we have “modern humans” Humans that created art, music etc we where living on diets based on meat, nuts and plant life. Then just 10,000 years ago we started eating dairy and wheat things we handt eaten at any stage before. Then less then 100 years ago (which if the whole of human history was a football pitch would be five blades of grass away from the touchline) after the industrial revolution we started eating processed foods! refined sugars and refined carbohydrates! and we wonder why this is starting to cause us problems???
Protein provides slow release energy. Protein can be held in the liver and released slowly throughout the day. It’s time release glucose. The more energy you need the more is released. If you eat carbohydrates the insulin goes up and goes to the liver and shuts off the conversion of protein into glucose. Meaning you crash and creates tiredness and cravings.. a vicious cycle.
As a country we are the unhealthiest we have ever been… think about that. With “all we know” we live longer thanks to the advances in modern medecine but we are not healthier.
I recently posted a blog that picked some wholes in “the Paleo diet” and I stand by what i was saying in that post that it isn’t possible or necessarily beneficial to eat like a paleo human. What the point i make is that we can take the lessons given by the paleo man and couple it with the availability and diversity of natural foods that are available to us and improve upon our health! as apposed to getting unhealthier.
Just trying to apply these principals to your diet will improve it even if its not religiously. A lot of people say to me cutting grains and refined sugars is inconvenient and I understand that. But it is more inconvenient to become ill or unhealthy. However making some simple changes and trying to think in a slightly different way about what you eat can have a really positive effect.
Here’s a couple of things to avoid in the minefield that is the supermarket (without stating the obvious confectionary items)
- FAT FREE – This again is a massive marketing ploy where loopholes are found. The fat will most likely be replaced by things like corn syrup which is way worse for your health!
- Sugar Free – if it is something that should have sugar in and it’s sugar free chances are it’s something that been put in that literally messes with our neuro transmitters and can actually be linked to depression. These days so much are food is created like frankensteins monster! think about what your eating.
- Bread you knew it was coming! but im afraid it’s one of the worst offenders! two slices of bread not only contains the equivalent of about a quarter of a cup of sugar (same as a baked potato but bread actually blocks the absorption of important nutrients.
- Wholegrain – im afraid you can’t absolve your guilt with this (we have all been there) it’s just as bad as it’s white counter part and in-fact blocks even more nutrients in your stomach. It’s another marketing scam.
To summarise – you can try all of the fad diets, starve for two days gorge for 5. Eat soups, be a vegan (don’t get me started on all of the reasons this is a bad idea b12 Vitamin is just a start) eat only sausages and burgers or any of the other books that hit the shelf. But what I say it really boils down to is solid facts. What is it that has been proven to work over 2 million years. What is it that has enabled us to evolve into the dominent species on the planet. We are all products of our environment over a vast period of time. In just the same way as the rest of the natural world.
Nutrition will always be a point of debate. There will always be theories. We all have lives to run and enjoy so my suggestion would be understand how the foods you eat effect your body and try and make some simple changes to make some big improvements.
I don’t live like some kind of Neanderthal that lurks around organic farms scuttling in collecting meat and veg before eating it all raw with my bare hands beneath a near by bushell. I have cheat days where I will eat whatever I want but I base the backbone of my nutrition around these principals and it helps me maintain consistent energy a sub 10% boy fat as well as a pretty good feeling of health.
Blame the grain or remain the same.