Science is always filled with contradictions. One thing they declare is good for you today, someone else declares as bad for you tomorrow.
This became evident when I read the book “The Beauty Detox solution”. So much was declared bad in the book, wheat, gluten, animal protein as in dairy and meat, agave and a host of others. Then I took a look at the French diet which is laden with all these, lots of breads, dairy, meats, wines & chocolate, and yet they have the best cardio vascular health in the developed world. With the way we currently think about eating, how is this even possible?
In a conversation I had with a friend about the African diet and how it is not serving us in the western world. I pointed out that this diet does work for Africans in Africa, in that community and with that way of life, the diet makes sense.
Ah ha moment
It finally dawned on me that it cannot be just about what we eat: how many calories, low card, high protein, how fattening it is. But, our overall lifestyle and the environment in which we live: the quality of the things we eat, how our foods are produced, how we eat it, how we socialize, how we reduce stress, how we sleep, the weather, our spirituality and all other life factors.
It’s not that Kimberley Synder (writer of “The Beauty Detox”) was wrong, but it may be that, to live successfully in this ecosystem, it’s easiest to advise we eat like rabbits or grazing on grass like cows. There is a lot, especially in the American food supply that is wrong: loads of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, genetically modified foods, growth hormones, bad soil, over processed foods, etc. The best idea may just be to stay away from most things and keep things really simple.
But, I completely refuse to accept that as my lifestyle. I like vegetables, but I love my meats, starches, dairy & chocolates. I like trying new foods and the vast array of things the world has to offer. I also hate limiting myself and my options, especially with my food. I’d rather eat like the French, and I’m sure most of us feel the same way. So, I’d like to adopt a new eating philosophy.
It’s not all about the food itself, but about quality of food & lifestyle. More lifestyle, less diet.
1. Quality of Foods
In many parts of the world, because their foods are produced closer to the consumers and at much better qualities, they can consume a lot more without getting so easily overweight, getting allergic reactions or developing diseases.
One thing a lot of immigrants notices when they come to America is the lower quality of foods. One example I give is that here, when you hold an orange and squeeze, you fingers go right through the orange. But in a lot of places, nothing happens to the orange. You have to actually peel the outer skin of the orange to get to the juice. Those oranges are stronger, tastier and more nutritious. The French pay a lot of attention to the quality of the ingredients they use in their foods.
The good news is that, there are lots of farmers in America that use more sustainable and traditional farming practices. They are fertilizing with compost, feeding cows with grass, allowing chickens to roam and staying away from genetically modified seeds, all in an effort to provide better quality foods. The bad news is that they may not be in your traditional grocery stores. I intend to seek them out in my area and consistently improve the quality of the foods my family eats.
2. Quality of Meals
I started looking at other cultures that eat a lot of meat, but do not have the same health concerns. Germans’ eat lots of hamburgers & sausages, but they eat it with lots of sauerkraut, which is a fermented food with tons of probiotics and helps digest the meat better. Koreans also eat a lot of meat, but now I get why they hand you that tray with little fermented foods like kimchee, pickled foods and miso soup before the meal. All those are also very rich in probiotic. So, it’s not that meat is inherently bad, but we can eat meats in a way that helps our bodies better digest it.
So, I’ll also be improving our meals over time, by making small changes like:
- Improving the quality of breakfast to include fruits, vegetables and good quality proteins.
- Eating more vegetables with lunch and dinner.
- Incorporating more probiotic foods, sprouts and sea based vegetables into our diet
- Eating better proportions in the right order
3. Quality of Lifestyle
I had been struggling with how fast I was gaining weight with this pregnancy. But when I had to take care of my son for 4 days pretty much on my own, I actually lost weight. That baffled me. Why did my fast weight gain suddenly reverse? I ate the same foods, and my activity level was not that much higher because, to my surprise, my son was calmer and didn’t wear me down like I expected. The only thing that had really changed was the way I ate. In order to stay engaged with him, we had fun cooking each meal and enjoying the meals together. Because he was a part of the cooking, he savored the meal even more. I think the TV may have also been off, or at least we didn’t pay that much attention to it. We were both more relaxed and in a good spirits. I remember feeling bad because I had to miss all my workouts, but being ubber surprised when I had actually lost about 2 lbs. Could just relaxing and being engaged at meal time cause me to lose weight?
With the French, it is hard to separate the language from the culture. In the parts of the world they colonized, they not only took their language, they infused their culture and set up the communities in ways that preserved it. They take their long lunches and have been so resistance to McDonald and the fast food culture, which encourages you to worf down food too quickly and not in a relaxed manner which greatly affects health. They have to fight to preserve their culture to preserve their health.
So, I’ll be working to improve my lifestyle by making small changes like:
- Having dinner around the table with my family and the TV turned off, so we can relax and enjoy the meal.
- Getting others more involved with the food prep and setting the table.
- Having more lunches with co-workers instead of eating alone at the computer at my desk
- Invite more people over for dinner and socialize more
What do you think?
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