I don’t know about you but I have been cholesterol and weight aware for a very long time. I have lived a low fat and sometimes no fat diet and taken medication to lower my cholesterol on the recommendation of my doctor.
So a logical next choice in prep for my Culinary Nutrition course coming this fall was to jump into the book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz.
Imagine my outrage as I read/listened to this book to learn that the research studies that resulted in the my doctor’s recommendation were manipulated and/or seriously flawed to come to the researchers desired outcome. Next as experts acted on that flawed information, in an effort to lower heart disease, governments jumped on that bandwagon of recommending a low fat diet and doctors followed suit.
Even though the studies were questioned in the beginning, it wasn’t until much later that the public was made aware that these studies were flawed and by that time the giant ball was already in motion. We were all receiving recommendations to follow low fat diets and take medication to lower our cholesterol levels. We were brought up that way, so it had to be right. Right??
Over the years, I have consciously lowered the fat content of my diet. I have focused on not eating those whole foods that I now learn offer the fats that my body really needs.
Have we really been avoiding those whole fat foods unnecessarily? Could saturated fats really not be so bad for our bodies?
It all seems so very complicated.
In my learning curve, one of the big WOW moments was the day that I learned my brain is made up of mostly fats! Who knew? I didn’t but perhaps I was naive.
I always knew there were certain vitamins that you needed to consume fat with in order to absorb the goodness, but the thought that my brain needed fat was something that really made me sit back and question what I was doing.
The thought that the very thing I had been told to avoid for so many years, was something that my brain actually needed to be healthy is a bit mind blowing.
I don’t know about you but as I age, keeping my brain healthy is one of the things at the top of my list. I would like to keep my mental faculties intact so that I can enjoy my life to the fullest. Now there are a lot of factors that go into keeping my mental faculties, it is not just about consuming enough good fats but I think it is an important part.
There are just so many people out there making recommendations on what is good for you and what isn’t. There is a lot of noise, but how do they really know, why is their study better or not as good as another. Like I said it is such a complicated question to answer.
I must give credit to the medical research industry out there because there is a lot of amazing knowledge that has been identified through medical research that has greatly improved our lives.
And we need those experts to help us identify and make our personal decisions on what is good for us individually. We cannot possibly be experts in everything.
One thing that really hit home as I progressed through the book was that no matter what health recommendation you were listening to, moderation is probably the best route to keep you on a healthy path.
I watched the author Nina Teicholz give a talk about her journey writing this book. Her last words had a most profound effect on me. She told her audience to focus on whole fats in their whole food choices.
Let me say that again......focus on whole fats in your whole food choices!
I can do that!
Since reading this book, I can honestly say that I am not afraid of eating a little bit of fat on a steak. After all I now only eat beef about once, sometimes twice a week, and even then a moderate amount of 3 or 4 oz. I think moderation is the key.
Ideally if we kept track of our fat consumption in our daily diet, the Government of Canada now recommends that 20 to 35% of our total diet should come from fats.
In my eyes, I want those fats to come from good whole foods like avocados, fish, lean meats, nuts, and such.
How do you feel about all the confusion around fats and what is good for you and what isn’t?
What about the fact that the low fat diet recommendations made so long ago by the experts was based on incorrect information?
We are a whole body that needs whole foods including whole fats, in moderation of course.
Explore your world of food, and decide for yourself what works best for you.
Food Sensitivity Coach and Food Lover exploring the world of food.
As a Food Sensitivity Coach, I find that many of my clients feel quite challenged when it comes to the shopping for groceries. I can sympathise because I have to admit I have been there.
Many feel that there is no ‘food’ they can eat. I have been there too!
To ‘just eat food’ is kind of an ambiguous statement because we all don’t have the same definition of what food is.
The dictionary definition of foods is: any nutritious substance that people, animals or plants, eat, drink or absorb in order to maintain life and growth. Interesting!
Previously, I have often defined food by what would fill my tummy be it good for me or not.
So, the question of the day is … What do you consider to be food? Does food include your breakfast cereal, granola bars, hamburgers, condiments, fruit, eggs, meat, cheese, or veggies? All of these foods have at least some nourishing nutrients and could be thought of as nutritious, but are they all really good for our bodies?
In prep for my Culinary Nutrition Expert course, I have a list of books to read or listen to, and a list of documentaries to watch. I decided to start by reading In Defence of Food: An Eaters Manifesto by Michael Pollen. I am a food lover after all. I also watched the documentary just for my own enjoyment. He is an entertaining guy and he has some interesting advice. One piece of advice I really liked was ‘Eat food, Not too much, Mostly plants’.
Today, we tend to focus on individual nutrients instead of the whole food. Many of us take supplements to ensure we are getting the proper nutrients instead of just eating the food.
That is not to say that supplements are not beneficial. Sometimes they are needed because certain nutrients can be very challenging to get what your body needs from food alone.
So what is food?
When Michael Pollen wrote ‘In Defence of Food’, I believe he was referring to whole foods. The kind of stuff you find in the fresh department in your favourite grocery store, not the processed food like products that we find in those center aisles.
I used to purchase a lot of prepackaged, processed food. Let’s face it, they are called convenience foods for a reason.
Pre-packaged foods tend to have a lot of health claims like low in fat, low in sugar, etc. But if a product is claiming to be low in fat but has more sugar and salt to replace taste that removing the fat has taken away, is that really something I want to consume?
Nutrition labels can be very misleading, by focusing on just the nutrients listed instead of the processed product as a whole. What else is in there hiding? Many ingredients are also added in as extras to extend shelf life, but all that can change how your body reacts and digests that food and then how the nutrients are absorbed or used.
Many of these processed products have been created in a laboratory in conjunction with a marketing team to produce more sales instead of better nutrition. Does that thought bother you, I know it does me?
I have found over the last few years, as I journeyed toward a better life after breast cancer, that I shop less and less in those center aisles, skeptical of health claims in general. I still have a few favourite products that I buy in those aisles, but generally most of my shopping is done in the outer aisles, veggies, fruits, meats, etc.
Now, with different circumstances and having more time on my hands, I look to do the processing myself. Taking the raw ingredients and cooking, baking or preserving them for my family to enjoy.
By doing this I get to choose what goes into it; I get to avoid those food additives that I cannot pronounce; or additives to give the product a 2 year shelf life. I get to concentrate on just using the whole food that gives me all the nutrients those foods can offer.
I am amazed that it takes a lot less time than I ever imagined it would.
Is the topic of ‘what is good food’ something you have pondered, previously?
Now that we have had a reset on our priorities, is the fuel you put in your body something you would like to take more control of?
There are so few things in this world today that we can control, but the food we consume and the choices we make regarding that food are things we definitely can control.
If you are interested, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollen’s book ‘In Defence of Food’. It is a relatively short entertaining read (or relax and watch the documentary). Make your own opinion of what is best for you and your family.
Let me know in the blog comments any thoughts I might have provoked or any topics you might like to explore.
Everything that opens our eyes is worthwhile. Explore your world of food, decide what works for you, make your own rules and like Michael Pollen says ‘Sometimes you have to break the rules’.
Food Sensitivity Coach and Food Lover exploring the world of food.
As many of you already know I have been an allergy and sensitivity sufferer for most of my life. I was run down, tired, not sleeping well, I picked up every virus out there and suffering random GI issues. I was doing what I could to self identify what the causes might be.
After having food sensitivity testing done by my Naturopathic doctor, I learned I was eliminating the wrong foods altogether!
Today, I am a different person. I have energy, an exuberance for life, and I am generally happier and more at peace.
Right now it’s a new world out there, and navigating it with food sensitivities, allergies and intolerances is going to be a bit different going forward.
Our food challenges have not gone away. Stress is one factor that can make symptoms drastically worse (goodness knows there has been a bit of stress in all of our lives in the past 6 months.)
Our mental health as well as our physical health is being challenged as never before by our current situations.
People with food/gut issues experience not only physical stress but mental stress as well. Having food or gut issues can cause a tremendous amount of stress all on their own, without what is happening in our world.
I don’t know about you, but even though I am healthier than I have ever been and have tried to deal with stressors as they occur instead of letting them build up, I have definitely felt like my plate is full.
For the past few months I have tried to keep myself from going down the rabbit hole of where things will go in the future, not only for myself, my family but also my country and the world.
Meditation, mindfulness and being open to new experiences, whether it be a new food, recipe, way to clean, or just new things to consider, have kept me in a balance and interested.
I have taken this time to do a lot of reading, listening to and watching documentaries in preparation for a course I will be taking this fall to become a Culinary Nutritionist.
My life is never dull and there is always something new to explore or consider.
I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned and how it has made me re-assess how and what we cook, how I deal with my food sensitivities, as well as how we make some decisions regarding purchases. I am also exploring how what we do, use and purchase impacts the earth and the environment. Trying to make changes for the health and well being of not only my family, but the earth as well.
I don’t know about you but for me seeing the photos of the world in healing mode as we all pushed the pause button made me feel like the world was taking a deep breath.
I feel like I am on a new journey, a new beginning. What about you?
Let me know what your new journey is and how it feels, in the comments. Maybe it is something I would like to explore too.
Stay tuned, I have a lot to share – a little bit at a time. :)
diane Couse, Food Sensitivity Coach
I am passionate about exploring the world with a view to food allergies and sensitivities. I look forward to sharing with you what I find, from books, blogs and websites to recipes, hacks, inspirations and opinions, join me in a journey to live your best life.