I work closely with people who are looking to change their lives for their better. Recently I’ve been asked a lot about weight and loosing weight. As Spring approaches we’re all galvanised towards better health, more energy and the body shape we want.
But what if I was to tell you that dieting or a diet doesn’t just influence your weight, it influences your HEALTH? By eating a diet natural to you, you can enhance your body shape, feel more energetic and have better immunity?
From my experience, 95% of what you eat is about your body shape, whilst 5% is about exercise. In this, I am not talking about what we have been genetically gifted. We are tall or short, broad or narrow shouldered etc. Here I am discussing optimal size and weight for you. More importantly, how your diet impacts on your weight and therefore your health. With improved health I see people starting new hobbies or sports or going back to activities that make them happy, a joy of exercise being one of these.
Growing up, I taught to be a ‘plate clearer’. I also ate exactly what I was given. As a ‘good child’ and a ‘good eater’, this was a lot of white bread, biscuits, dried pasta and cereal, filling food. I had a bloated belly, a sedentary approach to life AND I was eight years old. What was going on? My mum was feeding me exactly what she was being told to at that time. Food marketing to children had kicked up to a new level on television (eg. must have chocolate breakfast cereals and ‘quick snacks’ loaded with sugar) and new medical information said ‘fat makes you fat’, advocating ‘low fat options’. Not a lot was said about sugar when I was growing up in the 80’s …
But what about the sugar?
Today, sugar has been completely exposed as the number one health risk to humanity. From the 1960’s fat was blamed for weight gain, but as we dropped our quality fats (butter, lard and cold pressed oils) and replaced them with low fat options (margarine, heat-treated vegetable oil and hydrogenated oils (in fried foods and packaged pastries and baked goods) the nations weight continued to increase and health declined. At this time, sugar and all its derivatives became more prevalent in our food – ‘hidden’ in cereals, cooking sauces, condiments, diary products, ready meals, crisps, snack bars, biscuits, pastries, cakes and drinks.
But why was so much sugar introduced into our food by our Food Providers?
Because sugar stimulates the appetite. The more we have, the more we want. Sugar is an addiction. We know this now, and the Food Producers have known this for a long time.
What else was added?
As sugar increased, so did the preservatives. Our food industry uses a lot of chemicals to keep our food ‘looking better, tasting better and lasting longer’, perfect, until we realise that every chemical that we ingest needs to be broken down and processed by the body. Some are eliminated naturally (or are expressed in skin irritations, IBS symptoms, bad breath and other digestive issues) and some not at all. Some stay in the body to influence cell change and mutation. Preservatives that keep bread fresh for weeks, that make deserts look glossy and meat last longer do nothing for our physiology. But our brains respond to the LOOK of these foods – they look delicious. Likewise fruit and vegetables that are beautiful and ideal LOOK to be fresher and therefore perceived to be healthier. But, if they have been chemically enhanced or genetically modified, what is the final benefit to us?
A part of the solution is to eat seasonally – a wise teacher described this as a part of “dancing with the rhythms of life”. Most of us are no longer in the fields or foraging for our edibles. Instead we have cart blanche of the world’s foods in our supermarkets. However, we are evolved to eat seasonally, to eat in rotation the food that is available and that feels right for that time of year. The seasons (not the supermarkets) communicate to us what to eat. Winter in the UK is all about root crops, cabbages and the aromatic alliums (onions and leeks). We also want more protein (red & white meats, eggs, lentils, chickpeas and other legumes). Feel what your body really wants and eat enough of the good stuff – the fruit, the vegetables and the unprocessed foods.
This article just touches the tip of the ‘health and food’ iceberg. Join me for a consultation to understand your eating patterns, what makes you eat as you do and tailor your food to fit your body and improve your health.
Know what sugar and chemical load your food carries. Eat what our seasons provide and eat food that tastes like it should.
Paula is an avid writer and enjoys working with food and words.