A couple of weeks ago TV3’s 3rd degree, ran a programme that was to debate the position of ‘is fat as bad for us, as we have been lead to believe in the last 30 years’.
In case you missed the show, in the left corner we had the University professors (one from Auckland and one from Otago) supporting the current dietary recommendations (eat low fat especially saturated fats and get your 6 grain/cereal serves/day etc), and to the supposedly, radical right corner, there was a professor and a senior Lecturer from AUT, advocating their support for a High fat-Low Carb diet, who following some trials of their own have concluded that there is evidence to suggest that fat isn’t the devil that science, media and (not least) the commercial food industry have hoodwinked us into believing it is.
I suspect both sides comments' were subject to the curse of the editing suite. And what followed was largely a disappointing story on what could have been a fascinating discussion between these four. It wasn’t even really a debate in the truest sense of the word. Put them in a room and let them really thrash it out I say – much better TV than that left to the hands of TV3’s reporters and editors.
I’m not going to go into any more detail or critique what any of them said or did, not least because one of them is married to one of my bosses (zero degrees of separation in NZ!) :). But it has had me thinking over the last couple of weeks, of the kind of impact this sort of article in the news could have on the population, and the powerful role the media plays in what and how information is fed to us.
Only TV3 knows what supposedly boring (but vital and true) pieces of information ended up on the editing suite floor, but I wonder how many people took away from that article that “fatty food is OK for me after all, bring on the pies, FnC’s, flag the veges etc etc”, which is certainly not the message the High-fat team would have been pushing. It was briefly mentioned that if you are going to increase your fat content you have to cut out the sugars, not just add in more fat on top of everything else, but was that absorbed? Who knows.
The problem with having a “debate” over anything food or diet related is that it suggests that at the end of it, we will have one clear winner and that is the way forward hence forth.
I truly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet. What works fabulously for one person, simply may not nourish and adequately fuel another. There are so many factors to take in to consideration. However, quite simply, no one is going to be negatively affected by cutting down on added sugars, refined carbs and frankenfoods.
In the last twelve months in particular we have seen the growth of dietary trends, such as the Paleo diet, it certainly has its merits, but, I just don’t like labels and I don’t necessarily fall neatly on either side of this particular fence either. My food philosophy is somewhere down the middle, and I believe it is less restrictive than compartmentalising how you eat, under some label that immediately leaves you with ‘I can’t have….’.
Low-quality, low-nutrient foods often do nothing but a disservice to the consumer and if something comes in packaging claiming it’s reduced fat or the likes, chances are it bears little to no resemblance to the food it started out life as.
In my humble opinion Michael Pollan says it best when he says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. I expand on this a little and say: Base all of your meals around vegetables (preferably quality and mainly non-starchy varieties (fries are not a vege!)), and from there think, what quality source(s) of protein and fat am I going to include with this? If you eat this way 90% of the time, your body will look after you and cope with your indulgences (allergies and special conditions aside of course).
This is where I believe our mass media and population wide, dietary promotion should be focused. Sorry, corporate food giants but the secret to good health, vitality and nourishment does not lie in the bottom of your heavily processed, well marketed “food” products.
The equation is really much simpler:
Real food, is real good.
I firmly believe that there are no hard and fast rules, no right nor wrong nor a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to food. However, I do think that at times we all lack inspiration for alternatives, especially if we are trying to make healthier choices.
This is particularly true when it comes to breakfast, I grew up, as did many (or the majority even) in our society, on the food-bandwagon that, breakfast foods consisted of; toast and spread, cereal and milk/yoghurt, cooked breakfasts didn't even really feature on my radar as a kid.
Fortunately for me, I have the luxury of a Mother who made our cereal, and often our bread too when I was young - go Mum. Whilst still, toast and cereal, at least with the home made varieties, the additional creepies, like excessively added sugar and preservatives were largely avoided.
Making your own cereal is easy, quick and a great way to get rid of the 'dead' and overly refined ingredients in most bought cereals, that don't offer you any benefits, and load up on the more healthful ingredients instead.
However, I put it to you to take it a step further and challenge what you consider breakfast foods all together.
Think beyond the 'bagged and boxed' toast and cereal norm and make your breakfast another way to fuel your body, yet still keeping it low maintenance enough to be had any day of the week.
There are no rules, specific foods, do not need to be eaten at certain times of the day only.
Be creative, think outside the square and the world (or breakfast at least) is your oyster.........
Here are my quick fire ideas:
Nutritionist. Kiwi. freestyle cook. positive. simple. clean. food. wellness. health. nature. soul. holistic.