Food, health, habit and vitality
I have been thinking about all the reasons we eat. Survival, health, energy, medicine, vitality, habit, addiction, comfort, culture, celebration, and social connection.
Habits and routine can be helpful or harmful when it comes to what, when and how we eat. I’ll start by focusing on what we eat. There is no one eating plan that suits everyone. I often ask practice members to do a five day food diary where they record everything they eat and drink for five days and note how they are feeling, what their energy levels are like, whether or not they had any symptoms such as headaches, irritable bowel symptoms, joint pain and stiffness, or brain fog to name a few. It’s a useful tool to identify possible foods that are depleting that individual of vitality.
The leading causes of deaths in people over 45 in western societies are attributed to diseases which are lifestyle related. I.e. caused by eating poorly, insufficient exercise, and smoking. The majority of prescription drugs used in western societies treat symptoms caused by unhealthy habits.
Most people I see eat because they feel hungry or out of habit. The vital few eat to nourish their body and soul. Most people are confused on what they think they ‘should’ eat. Low fat, complex carbs, low sugar, preservative free, additive free, keto, vegan, paleo, raw, blood group, gluten free, intermittent fasting…..the list goes on, much of it contradictory.
No two people are alike, therefore there is no one answer. Hippocrates (the man considered by many to be the father of modern medicine) said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Can food make you sick? Yes. It makes sense then that food can heal.
If you were needing to drive 100 miles, would you put orange juice in your fuel tank. No. Yet people mindlessly fill their bodies with junk and expect it to perform well.
Rather than be overwhelmed with the contradictory information keep food choices simple by following these tips:
- Increase your intake of a wide variety of rainbow coloured vegetables
- Increase the quantity of locally grown, seasonal food you consume
- The closer a food is to it’s natural state (i.e. less processed) the more beneficial it will be
- The Mediterranean way of eating is associated with longevity and vitality
- Eat mindfully and slowly, preferably with family or friends, putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls
- Pay attention to how you feel after you have eaten, including the next day. This can give you clues on which foods your body needs more or, and which food doesn’t agree with you.