Making healthy and conscious food choices have been one of the most important steps on my healing journey. As I am still taking shit loads of medication that have nasty toxic side effects, I am very aware of what else I put into my body. Where I have the choice, I am going the natural way. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – already Hippocrates knew that and since old school never gets out of fashion, let ´s stick to this truth.
It seems that we need a lot of healing around food these days. And I am talking here not only about the shortcomings of the food industry, but more about our attitude towards food. Our eating culture is influencend by external forces that we often cannot control. Social status,cultural traditions, environmental conditions, globalisation as well as political conflicts play a role in what kind of food is available to us. However, in privileged Western societies it appears that we are either shockingly careless about what we eat or nearly obsessed. We are developing eating disorders and suffer from so-called lifestyle diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes 2 that are largely related to poor nutrition over years. Food intolerances are on the rise as well, and for some peeps the consumption of lactose, gluten, corn, soy and many more can cause days of being toilet-bound. Food matters and is becoming more and more important for a happy and healthy life. On the other hand, we go crazy about every new trend that is on the food market. All of a sudden bread is the beelzebub, dairy products are a red flag, meat is a no go but since carbs are banned from the plate it seems the only option to keep a hungry belly satisfied. And still, we need to lose weight and detox around the clock! We have started to classify food into guilt-free and have cheat days where we are allowed to over-induldge after we have made it through a week of low or no-whatsoever. We are partcipating in “challenges” to eliminate certain foods or change our eating behaviour. In our quest after the best diet and what works well for our bodies, we are crossing a fine line between healing and restricting ourselves. Are the current trends just fat fads and how can we create healthy eating habits?
Current food trends share a few common traits, with the orientation back to natural and nourishing whole foods being the best. Heal Yeah for this! A real treat after the chemical brothers artificial sweeteners and margarine and their heir apparent low fat have been toppled from the throne. What was hip in the 90ies has proven itself today to be worse than mice poo. The traditional food pyramid that you can find on the Kellogg´s box is turned upside down. Instead of cereal, bread and pasta we find now water and vegetables as well as fruit being the foundation for good nutrition. This is topped by lean proteins and monounsaturated fats, and only on the tip you can find good old carbs. Moreover, the new way of eating is not only tickling our tastebuds, but also our creativity. We are being sent right back into the kitchen to prepare meals ourselves instead of relying on pre-packaged and fast food. As we are being presented with a variety of different kinds of food we are automatically trying out new tastes. Ever had rawghetti with steamed kale and parmesan-cashew, followed by a chia-pudding with berry coulis, sprinkled with mesquite and topped with raw cacao nibs? You get what I mean. So let´s check see whats on today´s menu!
A clean raw pegan
The unspoken rule of all trends is actually nothing new, because if you have listened to Grandma you remember to eat only what she would have dished up. And most grannies knew about Nature´s goodness without any artifical bad-ass additives. Mine as a farmers lady did for sure! And its indeed colourants, preservatives,stabilisers, enhancers like MSG and most of the E(eeek)s that are wreaking havoc with our health and are influencing our natural sense of appetite. So lets get clean! The rules of Clean Eating are simple but profound: Consume food in its most natural state. That does not only focus on preparation and to cook up a storm yourself , but it is also targeting on your shopping behaviour. Start reading the labels: Clean foods only contain one or two ingredients. Anything more is considered as human made and therefore bah bah. So avoid any processed and refined foods and sugar-laden bombs. Its best to choose organic and seasonal yumminess wherever its possible. Also go only for healthy cold-pressed fats derived from plants such as coconut-oil, avocado-oil and extra vigin olive oil. Moreover, clean eating suggests to eat at least 5-6 times a day, ideally 3 meals and 3 snacks. Meals should include lean proteins, complex carbs and vegetables and fruits. This keeps the body energised and curbs cravings. Thus, clean eating provides an approach that creates healthier lifestyles and conscious food choices. You are what you eat!
All the way back to Mother Nature and even further to the Stone Age takes us the Paleo-Diet. Short for paleolithic diet, the idea is here to stick to the food groups of the pre-agricultural and hunter- gatherer diet. The paleo philosophy states that our bodies are perfectly adjusted to the food groups that humankind has been consuming since pre-historic times, because the human genome has not changed significantly over the past million years. Food intolerances and degenerative diseases are mostly due to those food groups that have emerged with husbandry. Our evolutionary path is paved with a diet rich in proteins, low in carbs and low to moderate in fats. The paleo plate is loaded with lean proteins such as meat (organic and grass-fed, wild game), fish, eggs and vegetables to ensure an alkaline environment. A regular intake of good darn healthy monounsaturated fats and a balanced ratio of Omega 3:Omega 6 is also one of the pillars. Grains are to be avoided as well as most dairy products, legumes and sugar. Fiber is provided mostly through non-starchy fruit and veg. Paleo has become very popular because it assists in weight loss. Additionally, it claims to tackle the above mentioned lifestyle diseases, something that did not occur in the Flintstone family for sure!
If you cut out the beastly part of the story, you are quicker on the vegan path than you can say cauliflower. Vegans are avoiding any animal-derived product. So no meat and fish, no cheese, no eggs, no honey, no nothing that comes from an animal. Instead, the body is fueled with plant-based proteins as found in legumes,tofu, nuts and seeds and loads of veggies and leafy greens. For most vegans, the rules of clean eating apply as well. More than a simple diet, veganism has the potential to change our perception not only on food, but also on the world. Veganism promotes the values of sustainability and responsibility for our planet, respect, non-violence and care for all living beings. I bow to vegans who have been taking enough care of themselves first to stand up for a really good cause!
Very veggie is the mantra of the Raw Foodists as well. The main premise is here to eat the way nature provides it to us – and this is neither cooked nor processed, but raw. Raw foods are plant-based foods, so the raw pantry is stock up with heal a alot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts and the popular superfoods (foods that are exceptionally high in viramis, minerals and anti-oxidants such as blueberries, chia, hemp or linseeds). Raw food is live food that is cleansing and alkalizing at the same time and thus decisive for good health. Cooking on the other hand destroys nutrients, turns healthy fats into bad trans fats, increases acid forming nature of food – in short not so good at all! However, cooking only starts at a degree over 47. So assuming that raw food is all about nibbling on carrot sticks and finding new ways of how lettuce can entertain you are wrong. There are warming dishes included. And here we come to the most amazing part of the raw kitchen: it is insanely creative and teaches you things to do with food that you never imagined before. Even a pizza is possible. Rawmazing rawesomeness indeed!
Every food philosophy has its benefits and shortcomings
While some thrive on a plant-based diet, others experience deficiencies. Some question the nutritional and energetic value of something that is “dead” and others argue how a diet can be sufficient and healthy when you need to supplement with vitamin B12 and so forth. Or maybe we should all go pegan (a combination of paleo and vegan)? Food is confusing these days but confusion is always good to start questioning. More than ever before, the question what to eat and what is best for you is finally recognised as holistic. This not only taking your individual physical constitution into account, but also the demenaour in that you are approaching and consuming food. It is certainly vital to create new eating patterns to find out how your body is optimally supported (especially if you are dealing with intolerances, inflammation, diabetes etc.) and get inspired to and live healthier, however it is only as good as long it is truthfully resonating with the all the other aspects of ourselves. You can be on the healthiest diet (if such thing exists at all) but still a fearful mindset that is suggesting that this piece of bread will make you gain 5 pounds after only one bite or that your karma is fucked up now because you had a piece of cheese is anything but healthy. Food choices and diets are confronting us with our beliefs and attitudes about ourselves.
This will be the topic of the main course – time to take a break and digest. To be continued…
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