Food Myths

Over the last few years I’ve read a lot about what we should and should not be eating for good health.  It’s been and continues to be a fascinating journey that has a whole lot more to do with diet and good health.  Where our current food and diet advice and trends originate is often surprising and sometimes downright scary.

This week there has been another couple of interesting pieces on this topic that I thought were worth sharing with you.

Firstly this article was in The Age – Epicure this week.  It’s titled What’s Wrong with our Food and looks at a number of concerns experts have with what we currently find on the supermarket shelves.  I do not think I could have agreed more with this article.  I’d love to see some follow up and some public pressure on finding solutions.  Australian guidelines for food additives (those nasty E numbers) need to be tightened up with the benefit being given to consumers rather than producers, good health and clear labeling needs to be at the forefront.  Pressure to reduce plastic in the food chain – as storage and packaging – needs to be placed on manufacturers.  We also need to change our mind set on food shopping, more is not necessarily better if we just throw out half of it out.  Cheaper food has huge ramifications for the environment and our health.

The second piece was on Catalyst tonight called The Heart of the Matter.  This was a fascinating look at how we came to be adopting a diet lower in saturated animal fats in order to reduce heart disease.  It was a really interesting analysis of the science (or lack of) behind these theories.  There was considerable opposition to the hypothesis that saturated fats caused or contributed to heart disease.  Those who refuted the connection indicated that stress, consumption of sugar and other factors were far greater risk factors than saturated fats.

In general I dislike diets, there is little research behind most of them and they seem to come unstuck regularly, hello Atkens.  I also avoid supplements as a rule (one which I’m breaking temporarily to see if I can raise my iron levels) as taking single elements out of foods and taking them in tablet form to improve health actually has very little evidence behind it.  Vitamins and minerals don’t work in isolation, that’s why foods have heaps of them together, and besides that there are lots of compounds in foods we haven’t even properly identified or understand their functions in the body.  And as for ‘superfoods’ and the like, well I reckon someone is making a whole lot of money from them.

So what is my own food philosophy, to be honest I’m not really sure.  I’ve always gone with colour, if you can get lots of different colours on your plate from different vegetables especially, it must be relatively balanced.  I avoid too much meat.  No food is off limits completely, but I avoid highly processed foods for the most part.  That’s about it.  What’s your food philosophy?  Do you have one?  Has it ever changed?

 

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6 Responses to Food Myths

  1. Reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon totally opened my eyes to food. Our industrial food system is so unhealthy, both for the planet and for our bodies too. We try to stick with whole foods,no processed sugar, only saturated fats (many plant oils are rancid by the time we get them or they are totally denatured by hydrogenisation) or olive oil, organic meat when we can and organic veggies. It appears that my wheat intolerance is worstening and that my eldest reacts unfavourably to wheat too, even the sourdough which I make so we’re giving wheat free a go too.

    We’re not all that wonderful at sticking to these rules but when we manage to do so the kids behave better and I find I am a happier, healthier and more relaxed mum.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I’ll have to look out for that one at the library. To be honest I haven’t done that much research into ‘whole foods’. I hear the term used everywhere and assume it means food in its natural state, is that all it is? And I still used white or brown sugar in baking usually. I am about to order some nice organic lamb though which I totally looking forward to. I’ve heard lots of others say positive things about going wheat free. I definitely prefer sour dough or low wheat/gluten breads, but we haven’t gone further than that.
      I think with all of these things you need a certain degree of flexibility, otherwise we become a slave to it and resent the work involved. Though it’s great when something just become a habit that you do and not something you have to think a lot about.

      • Whole foods are about how they come in their natural state so unbleached flour is more a whole food. Fruits and veggies rather than processed. Organic lamb is soooo much different to conventional in my experience. The co-op of which I’m a member does a big buy in of lambs around the end of November (email me if you’re interested) and I still have some left from last year It’s so tender and full of flavour.
        I’ve not heard negatives about going wheat free but those that do usually have good reason to do so. but as you say there is a lot of extra work involved. I have a thermomix which makes things like making bread or other alternative recipes a lot easier in most cases and things are starting to become habits now thank goodness but it does take time to get there.
        We’ve ditched the processed sugars which has made awesome changes to all of our behaviours and the rapadura will be slowly replaced with other better sugars like dates, honey and stuff (still sugars but at least they have fibre in them or the good bacteria in raw honey etc).

      • Barbara Good says:

        Thanks for the explanation.

  2. lewie says:

    I like Michael Pollan’s food rules. http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/six-rules-for-eating-wisely/. In fact, the Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of my favourite books. The short version is, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That sums it up for me!

    • Barbara Good says:

      I love Michael Pollan too, that line so resonated with me. I was going to add a bit about the Omnivore’s Dilemma but decided I would probably end up writing an entire essay if I started on that one.

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