So everyone’s heard the saying “You are what you eat” which basically boils down to two very simple equations:
Healthy food = healthy body
Unhealthy food = unhealthy body.
It’s simple really and I think on the whole we all know this. The tricky part comes when making our daily food choices. As a society, we are – let’s face it - obsessed by food. You don’t have to dig too deep to realise this – flick through the TV channels and there are endless programmes about it: cooking programmes, programmes about people cooking for other people, programmes about people who eat too much or too little, the list goes on. On a basic level the function of food (and I’m no scientist!) is to provide us with energy, nourish our bodies and sustain us. However, in our society the role of food goes much deeper - our relationship with food is packed with emotion. Just think about the role that food plays in your own life- is eating just something that you do as a response to your body needing fuel? Or is it something you do for pleasure? Do you deprive yourself of certain foods? Or overindulge when feeling down or stressed? Food is sociable, it’s fun, certain foods can be considered special or a “treat”, sometimes there is guilt associated with other foods, it is a very complex area, it shouldn’t be, but it is.
The Greek philospher and physician Hippocrates famously said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He stated that a balance of both food and exercise were needed to optimise health and an excess of either would upset the metabolism and disease would follow. With this in mind there comes a time when we have to start taking responsibility for our bodies and what we put in them. I’m no saint when it comes to food as I have my own issues with “emotional eating”, however, I do know the basics of healthy eating and strive to eat healthily most of the time but there are always days when ONLY cake will hit the spot or when the kids fancy chips for dinner and I don’t protest.
Ultimately we all have different associations with food, but the common denominator is that food can either help or hinder us in health terms. This is something we can either face head on or bury our heads in the sand about until illness strikes. For example, there was an article in the paper yesterday entitled “Cancer risk higher among people who eat more processed meat, study finds“. The article in the Guardian newspaper* went on to say that “Those who ate high levels of meat such as bacon had a 72% higher risk of death from heart disease and 11% higher risk of death from cancer” “People who eat a lot of processed meat such as ham, bacon, sausages and burgers run a greater risk of premature death and developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease, research shows.” Certainly facts that should grab your attention! The point of including these quotes is not just to convince you to stop eating meat (I’ll save that for another post ;-)) but more to highlight what an impact on our health our daily food choices can make, whether that’s cutting out/down on meat, chocolate, alcohol, sweets, cakes or whatever your own personal area of over-indulgence happens to be. It is important to do your research and think about the food you are putting into your body. You only have to think about this whole “horsemeat scandal” to know that big companies put their financial needs over our best interests. I can’t say whether horsemeat itself is bad for you, but it shows that you can’t trust these processed food manufacturers. What you see is most likely NOT what you get!!
The whole topic of you being “what you eat” is such an expansive one that my intention here is simply to bring attention to it. The media provides so much conflicting information about food and what is or isn’t good for us that it’s difficult to know what to believe sometimes, but a general rule would be that you can’t go too wrong with foods as close as possible to their natural state. Anything tampered with too much by technology is always going to have a question mark over it. At the end of the day, no-one can force you to eat anything you don’t want to eat or stop eating anything that you love eating but considering that your body is where you have to live, it might be worth giving a little more thought to what you put in it!