Food is one of my main pleasures in life. And those who know me know that I do love food and have always been obsessed by healthy, natural and organic food.
My obsession with food started thanks to my parents, who both started to follow a certain American diet called ‘Fit for Life’ when I was about 12 years old, and insisted that I follow it as well. And as I was entering my early teenage years, I was starting to become aware of my body shape, which I thought was a bit on the tubby side, so I decided to follow the diet with them in order to lose some puppy fat.
The diet consisted of having only fruit until noon and then it was based on the principle of not combining proteins with carbohydrates. So you could not have for example any rice with meat, or potatoes with meat, it had to be either meat or potatoes with salad. After this you would have to wait for 4 hours before the next meal. Furthermore, no dairy (apart from butter and cream), no sugar and white flour or rice was allowed. It was tough, but it meant that you could eat as much as you wanted and you wouldn’t put on any weight. However you would probably not eat too much anyway, as there is only so much meat and salad or carbs and veg that you would want to eat in one sitting.
The Fit for Life book became like my Bible, and I used to follow it and study it religiously. However, eventually I craved being able to have a normal toast with jam for breakfast and some meat with potatoes for dinner. This was around the time that the organic movement started gaining ground and we turned to natural and organic foods.
Nowadays, I just try and eat as much organic, seasonal and natural food as possible and avoid processed foods, having too much sugar, or over-eating. I recently read something, which reinforced this idea. It is a way of eating where you can only eat foods which have less than five ingredients in them, or basically nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.
|Enjoying my calamari – Oops I forgot to check the ingredients in this one!
Doing a simple check of the ingredients in my Hovis brand bread this morning, revealed that it contains emulsifier E472e and ascorbic acid among the other ingredients which I recognise. These ingredients would definitely not be recognised by my grandmother, although she would eat them anyway and wouldn’t care less. A quick check on the internet, reveals that these ingredients are not particularly harmful, but it just proves that to understand food bought from the modern supermarket you need an encyclopaedia just to figure out what is in the most basic of products.
Diet advice as well as health advice is also often contradictory. There are different opinions on if dairy, wine, chocolate, meat, wheat, etc. are good for your or not. There is some evidence for both. Some advise not to combine carbs and protein, some advise to have some protein with every meal. So really, there is some very confusing information out there. The best advice seems to be that you should eat natural ingredients, not over-eat and have everything in moderation.
I know many people who keep counting calories or who keep trying out different diets only to be successful for a while, but then crack and feel guilty when they eat something ‘bad’.
I also used to have this all or nothing mentality in the past. If I ate something I considered to be ‘bad’ I would feel guilty and would consider the entire diet ‘broken.’ Then I would continue to polish of all the sugary and bad foods in the house, because I had already broken the diet so it didn’t matter anymore. In fact this approach led nowhere, as by telling yourself you are not allowed to have something, you feel like eating it even more. Just by thinking of not having that cake in the fridge, you picture it in your mind, and eventually you go and eat it. Whereas, if you allow yourself the food you crave in moderation and eat as natural ingredients as possible, then you won’t put on weight and you can still enjoy your food.
However, putting on weight seems like a trivial problem, in comparison to many people in the developing world that continue to starve. The population of the planet is rising fast. In 1750 there were only 1 billion people on the planet. In 1930 there were 2 billion people. And in 1999 there were 6 billion people.
There are stark differences between the have and the have nots. The West consumes far beyond its means, while in some countries poor people die of starvation. Supermarkets in the West throw away tons of completely good food everyday, just because it has passed its sell by date.
There is a movement called Freeganism and Freegans get most of lot of their food from raiding supermarket bins. Supermarkets are the main culprits when it comes to food wasting and if you ever feel guilty about wasting food then it is nothing compared to this. Supermakets discard enough food to feed lots of people, but they often do not give it away even to charities or their employees as they want people to buy the food. It is illegal in the UK to take food from supermarket bins, and supermarkets lock their bins and sometimes cover the food with ink so it cannot be eaten. However freegans have their ways and often know about good spots where it is possible to access the bins.
And that is where my trail of thought ends for today. So on that note I wish you a great weekend of living healthily and being happy.