This may seem like an overly simplistic question. We get hungry >> we eat, right? Well… it’s not really that simple.
The bottom line is that the food we eat becomes our cells, our blood, our organs, and our bones, every single part of us. As well, the food we eat can help to lower inflammation, improve cognitive function and mood. So, why would we fuel our body with junk? I know the answer – because poor quality food is everywhere, it takes the least effort to prepare, it is designed to be addictive, and we’re bombarded with advertising! When I look back at how I ate for years, I just cringe. But, I didn’t really know any better at the time.
I was raised on processed food – my mom was a really good cook when she cooked – but our pantry was filled with cans and packages. After all, she was a modern woman and not expected to ‘slave’ for hours in the kitchen like generations before her. In fact I believe my mother’s generation (Mom was born in 1930) – was very much on their own – many of these women had moved away from the neighbourhoods where they were raised, she didn’t work and she didn’t even walk us to school – my GOD – when did she see other people? It’s no wonder so many of these women were depressed. That’s when the processed food craze began and women were following the advice of Big Food Manufacturers that was being dolled out over the T.V. and magazines.
Here’s an example of one of the best selling cook books from the 1960’s and then take a look at this 7-Up ad – how low can we go?
My generation (the baby boomers) and the ones that followed dive into books from child rearing to what foods to eat – my great grandmother would have been shocked to see how we need to take classes about how to care for our babies! Yet even with all this information many are still struggling to figure out how to eat healthy and ‘nourish’ themselves.
We’ve been following bad advice for too long.
Many people change their eating habits in the hope of quick results – usually for weight loss. Avoiding the macronutrients fats or carbohydrates are very popular. While others are regularly consuming low-fat, nutrient-deficient foods and then we wonder why we’re always hungry, tired, and in a funk. We think it’s our fault!
Let’s break it down – what should we eat?
There are seven main classifications of food that our bodies need everyday: Macronutrients: Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates
Vitamins, Minerals, Fibre and Water.
The following is a brief description of why we need to eat ALL three macronutrients:
Protein is essential for our bodies because it maintains, repairs and builds new cells. It makes blood, some hormones and is also responsible for making mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.
An amino acid is part of a protein – our bodies can make most of them, but there are 8 amino acids that we need to get from the foods we eat. Making sure you get all of these amino acids can be tricky, that’s why I believe that most of us benefit from eating a little protein from ethically sourced animal sources.
After being a vegetarian for over 20 years I immediately noticed a boost in my energy levels when I started eating small amounts of animal protein – this is a very common phenomena.
Carbohydrates are important for our bodies for many reasons including giving ENERGY to all our cells. Carbohydrates can also be a good source of fibre and prebiotics. (An undigestible fibre that helps to feed good bacteria, aka your microbiome.)
“Carbs” tend to get a bad rap – many people say they are avoiding carbs in an attempt to lose weight – what that means is you are avoiding any food that grows from the ground – including spinach!
Beware of Low Carb Diets
Drastically cutting carbohydrates such as grains could impact thyroid hormones and push your body into hibernation mode. This is not cool – a sluggish thyroid can actually lead to weight gain and a myriad of other health issues, including debilitating fatigue, brain fog and depression.
Yup, you even need to be eating good quality fats every day… “But, wait, I thought fat was bad for me!” This train of thought is due mostly to the debacle called the “Low-Fat Diet Craze” that caused many North Americans to run scared from all dietary sources of fat. The fat was replaced with sugar and other chemicals to make foods taste good. This did not bode well for our health or our waistlines. The low-fat diet craze actually coincides with the increased rate of obesity and depression in the Western World.
- Strengthen the immune system
- Enhance brain and nervous system functions such as mood, intelligence and behavior
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increase energy and performance
- Give you healthy skin, hair, and nails
- Regulate body weight
- Improve organ and gland function
- Lower inflammation in the body
- Help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K
- Optimize hormone function
- Help relieve constipation
It seems easy enough now to understand that we can’t eat junk and expect to feel energized, perform well, thrive and avoid disease.
We need to eat Whole Food – it’s critical for our health and wellbeing… Vitamins and minerals are lacking in diets that include a lot of processed foods. This is why focusing on the quality of food and maximizing your intake of nutrients is so important.
Eat food as Mother Nature intended it to be as often as possible – minimally processed with few chemical additives to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body (and brain) need.
In good health!
Here’s a recipe that may seem a little tricky at first. BUT, it’s also an example of where ‘food is medicine’ – dairy free, great source of B Vitamins and filled with beneficial bacteria…