The following has been kindly contributed by Cyndi O’Meara, nutritionist, author, speaker and founder of Changing Habits www.changinghabits.com.au.
Let’s Have Some Common Sense
The world is changing at a fast pace, the information we receive is beyond anyone’s capacity to keep up with. No sooner is there a new discovery regarding health and it is outdated by a new study. It takes approximately 17 years for our primary care practitioners to catch up with the latest research, which is sadly outdated by the time they learn about it.
I read comments in papers like “reports on research that appears to show that organic fruit and vegetables may be good for the planet”, and, “meanwhile scientific studies increasingly affirm the importance of eating organic” and “in July scientist at the UK’s University of Newcastle released a landmark authoritative study in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrating how organic foods beat their non-organic counterparts on a variety of health measures”.
Common sense, rather than a funded scientific article should become our guide for food choices. I don’t think it’s viable to wait for long term studies in order to use common sense. But common doesn’t seem to be common any more. We’ve lost the ability to critically think about our food choices and act accordingly. We are bombarded by marketing, advertising, confounding research and ‘Chinese Whispers’ as to what is the right food to eat.
Culture and Tradition have helped us as humans to survive for thousands of generations. Knowledge has been passed down through each generation for the survival of the species. But now a new way of choosing lifestyle and foods has emerged from science. We no longer trust our forefathers but rather trust the mechanism and nutritionism for food choices.
We choose food for the fat, salt, sugar, fibre and calorie content as opposed to choosing a food that has been in our eating repertoire for thousands of years.
For instance, we are told by science and health authorities to trust margarine, low fat milk, packaged foods filled with additives preservatives, flavourings, industrialised seed oils, low salt, low sugar and everything that is not culture and tradition. These foods are given ticks of approval for the non-mindful eater, who mindlessly choose, buy and eat.
We have been told that saturated fat is bad, yet it has been a fat that we have eaten for our survival, one of breast milk’s major components is saturated fat. Salt is also seen as a condiment to avoid, yet many roads and civilizations were built as a result of salt availability. Our nutrition depended on this commodity and we were paid in salt (the word salary originates from this practice). Natural sugar in our diet has always been an integral part of the laying down of fat to monitor hormone levels for the perpetuation of the species. Calories were never counted; our bodies had the ability – through hormones like leptin, ghrelin and insulin – to monitor how much we ate.
Sadly our lives have been changed with modernization and civilization – sleep, water, connection, movement and food have become poor cousins to our not so distant past.
I believe we will look back at this time in history and wonder ‘what the hell were we thinking?’. The destruction of our microbiome with antibiotics, the destruction of weeds with pesticides, the artificial fertilization of our plants, the genetic modification of our plants and animals and our quest for greater and greater yields have lead to a new generation of humans that will not outlive their parents.
Let’s take a step back. While science has its place in our health and lifestyle, the more we learn, the more we realize how utterly stupid we have been to think that we could manipulate nature and ourselves in order to find health. The more we learn, the more we should realize it’s important to go back to basics.
‘Quality as opposed to quantity’ is the buzz phrase, something that we have neglected. Quality sleep, connection, movement and food are important factors in reconnecting us to being healthy, vibrant and full of energy. The notion that a little white pill can make us happy and healthy is losing its appeal and there is a quest by many people to find the answer and get back to our evolutionary bodies needs.
Clean water, movement everyday, quality sleep and real foods not manipulated by science or a chemical laboratory is what our evolutionary body requires. Seasonal and local is a place to start. Having a relationship with our farmers as opposed to clinically walking into a supermarket lined with packaged foods that have the ability to last our lifetime and that of our children. It’s absurd when you critically think about what we have come to.
I’m a 1960’s child, I remember fresh milk and dairy being delivered. We knew the local butcher; he got most of his meat from the local farms. We grew fruit trees which my Mum would harvest every year and bottle excess we couldn’t eat. Vegetables and herbs were grown in our garden. And then spices, salt, sugar, nuts, seeds and grains were sourced from the small 4 Square Store down the road. My Mum didn’t even have a pantry as she made everything from scratch.
Becoming mindful of the food we eat, critically thinking about the messages that flash in front of our faces in our house, on billboards, in shops about food and other things we may purchase and taking a more holistic approach to our health and life begins a journey back to the essence of you and your health both physically and mentally.
As we change ourselves – and after all that’s all we can change – we have the ability to affect our family and friends and perhaps even influence a community. As we change as humans, we in turn help the plants, animals and planet. Reason is our greatest asset – use it wisely.
Nutritionist, author, speaker & founder of Changing Habits