Eat Real FoodBy Kira Neumann
Are you confused about what to eat? Is your head spinning from health claims on food packages? Is chocolate good for you or bad? Coffee? Soy? Fat? I say let's focus on how we eat for a change.
Reading Michael Pollen's book In Defense of Food, he states repeatedly that science and industry have created a "...needless complication around eating..." I couldn't agree more. People are more confused than ever before. We've created an "...unhealthy population preoccupied with nutrition and diet..." (and yes, we do have to take some responsibility in all of this because after all, we buy the stuff!). There's even a new word to describe us ~ orthorexics. No doubt there's a new drug coming along to treat our unhealthy obsession!
Pollen believes that all we need to know is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." How complicated is that? It's our definition of what food is that has become complicated and one of his rules for eating healthy is that if a food has a health claim, it must have a package, and therefore is a processed product and not real food. One of my own rules to my clients, that echo's his message is "Could you grow it, raise it or make it yourself?" If not, then the food is overly processed and not worth eating.
Individual nutrients are invisible substances with great significance to us. We've assigned such importance to them that we take them by the handful, in the form of supplements. We can only trust what we're told about these all powerful nutrients. What most of us don't realize is that we digest and absorb the nutrients in food much more easily than the isolated nutrients in our multi vitamin and mineral supplements. It's true that our food is becoming increasingly deficient in nutrients and this we cannot see with our eyes either. Thomas Pawlick says in his book The End of Food "...the amount of Vitamin A in tomato juice has dropped 47% ... while sodium ... has leaped upward ... 200%". There have been considerable declines in the nutritional content of commercially produced vegetables and fruit in the last 50 years. Where and what foods we choose to spend our money on is becoming increasingly important.
I say we stop worrying about individual nutrients and stop reading health claims on food. If we are cognizant of where our food comes from, eat a wide variety of whole foods, don't over eat and cut out the crappy foods (you know what they are!) then we'll be fine. It's a scientific fact that restricting calories prolongs life expectancy. Don't go hungry but stop before you're full.
By how we eat I mean the whole process of how the food gets to our tables. Where does the food come from that ends up in your kitchen and in your body? Where do you buy it? What do you buy? How do you prepare it? And most importantly ~ how to you consume it? Eat your meals with reverence, with respect and gratitude. Michael Pollen says "It is at the dinner table that we socialize and civilize our children, teaching them manners and the art of conversation." Food is sensual, it's about keeping communities and families together, and it connects us with the soil and the cycles of the earth. Eating together, as the social beings that we are, with a relationship to our food, helps digestion, slows down food intake and as a result we eat less and digest more.
Do I mean that you should stop taking your supplements? Not always. But be aware of what are whole food supplements and what are chemically manufactured ones. Some are better absorbed than others. And stop looking for that magic supplement, that one magic nutrient. Health is not a great mystery. Our Western diet and the marketing geniuses that can get us to eat anything is what is damaging our health and ultimately killing us. Pollen says we need to 'vote with our forks' and I couldn't agree more.
Kira Neumann, RHN, RNCP is a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant in the beautiful Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada. She runs Nutritional Consultations and Nutrition E-Classes that you can take from any computer anywhere on the planet! To get more information, sign up for her FREE newsletter or to register visit her website http://www.FoodWorksNutrition.com or phone 250-702-3007.