The Season of Eating
Halloween starts the Season of Eating laden with oodles of candy on display at all stores. Businesses put candy bowls on the counters. Parents and grandparents buy the “ little something extra” for the kids. Before we blink, the Thanksgiving and Christmas food products are in the grocery aisles obstructing any safe path for passage. Every year, we are aware of the onslaught and the marketers are keen to our over consumption. They giddily smile because, each year, we succumb and eat more than we need to. January brings the weight loss resolution ritual. It is a perpetual cycle of defeat and negativity.
If I hit my thumb with a hammer and it hurts me, would I continue to hit my thumb with a hammer? No. So, why do we continuously harm ourselves with the holiday food binge? Part of it is the social and family gathering. Every gathering involves food. Even book clubs; “Books and Brews” is one example. Because of the variety of families; one might celebrate two to three “Thanksgivings” involving in-laws, grandparents, step-parents and children. That’s a lot of great potato dishes that I would hate to miss! It is wonderful that food brings us together and that is one of the joys of holidays.
Our personal relationship with food is challenging. And it is different for each of us. Some individuals are addicted, some eat due to stress, some are anorexic, and some just eat for survival not caring about taste. Consider a different perspective; think of food as medicine. It is not a huge leap as it is common knowledge that most of the medicines developed are plant based. What about our daily meals? Can that be medicine as well and keep us healthy? Yes.
Mark Hyman, MD, author of the book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, writes “food is medicine.” The research he cites is recent and valid; it is not sponsored by food corporations attempting to sway the consumer to buy its’ goods. The book is written succinctly, it is easy to follow and it is a extensive referral source. It does tout a eating plan and I confess that I did not read those chapters because every individual has a specific nutrition plan that works with the chemistry of his/her body. A programmed “diet” may not be appropriate. Research demonstrates that “diets” are only successful for the short term which is why every January there is a new fad diet on display. It is a marketing scheme.
The chapters in the book are divided as such: Meat, Poultry and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Fats and Oils, and Beverages to name a few. At the end of each chapter is a resource guide filled with useful information. For example, did you know that “the phoney olive oil trade is three times more profitable than the trafficking of cocaine.” Much of the olive oil purchased is not true olive oil but oil mixed with nut or soybean oil. Thus, there is a list of real olive oil brands. Reading this book reveals the path to obesity in America shaped by food manufacturers paying off scientists and our government to publish faulty data leading to decades of misinformation to the consumer. Our country is now at an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. All of which is preventable.
Did I change my entire nutrition plan after reading the book? No. But I altered a few simple things. I purchased true olive oil recommended from the list. I reduced my sugar intake even more. More than ever, I am paying attention to what I eat and where I shop for food. Shopping takes special effort especially with teens because I am a pescatarian and they are omnivores. And, we live in a rural region. It takes extra time but I may shop at two to three different places for groceries. It requires planning and utilization to conserve time and gas so I am not making an extra trip to the grocery store. I buy meat from a local farm where the animals are grass fed and don’t receive hormones or candy. Yes, candy manufacturers give the candy surplus to large cattle farmers to fatten the cows which is then passed along into your system. Life long habits of eating poorly wreak havoc on our bodies. The sugars and chemicals from processed “food-like” products accumulate in our systems. Stuff our bodies are not designed to ingest just sits in our system causing inflammation in the tissues. Scary.
Your habits as individuals, parents and grandparents shape the youth for tomorrow. As a parent, I tried and continue to model for my kids; teaching moderation and putting good fuel in the body. It hasn’t always been easy. As a young child, my daughter was a very picky eater. Remembering my own food battles with my parents, I tried to encourage healthy foods but didn’t force the issue. Now as a 17 year old, my daughter eats a wide selection of foods. She still has a sweet tooth but doesn’t overdo it and she monitors herslef. She enjoys real food, not “food- like” products filled with chemicals, additives and sugar. And, we enjoy watching cooking shows together. Would I have ever imagined this would happen when she was eight years old? Never. I just kept modeling and preparing real food for the kids.
It takes time to shop and it also takes time to prepare nutritious meals. Part of the reason for our poor health in America is the invention of the “food-like” convenience products developed in the 1050’s to “save time.” Americans spend more than 11 hours daily interacting on screens (phone, computer, media, etc.) according to the market research group, Nielson. That is increased from 9 hours, 32 minutes from four years ago. Is that good for our health? Perhaps, some time can be carved out to prepare a nutritious meal.
We can’t do much without good physical, emotional and mental well being. Begin seeing food as medicine and selecting foods more consciously. Work together with your family so each of you has support. It doesn’t mean we have to stop eating chocolate; it means we eat a quality chocolate without the chemicals and maybe not so much of it. Start by reducing without going “cold turkey” for better success. Imagine your future self and work towards that goal.
The benefits: You will feel better in every way. Here’s the cool fact: any positive changes that you make today in your nutrition plan result in better health. Here’s the challenge: it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a pill. It is a lifestyle change.
Small steps lead to a long path of living well.
Yours in Wellness,
Email Ag at: firstname.lastname@example.org