I have been thinking and reading a lot about diet this week, having had a bout of, to put it politely, ‘tummy trouble’, probably due to over indulgence or maybe a little stress.
Over the years I have tried to embrace a good, healthy, and balanced diet. Certainly, we tried to raise our kids on a wholefood diet as much as possible, without being too strict. Sometimes I fear we may have strayed slightly into the ‘muesli brigade’…thinking we were on the healthy track but not always getting the balance right, albeit having the best of intentions.
As a family, we became interested in ‘health foods’ before it was fashionable; often regarded as ‘cranky’ we put up with the various jibes about smocks and sandals with monotonous regularity. There was much less choice in the mainstream supermarkets compared to today, but at the same time the foods available were fresher and less processed so we still gained overall. We grew our own vegetables and our sons would have probably answered to the name of Popeye they consumed so much home grown spinach. We lived in a Somerset village in the first years of our marriage and were lucky to be able to buy fresh free range eggs and locally produced cheese. We really taught ourselves about nutrition. Even though I had trained as a nurse, the food I witnessed the poor hospital patients being given set me no example of how to eat a healthy diet. In fact I wondered how the patients managed to get well!
Having a husband who is both a dentist and a bit of a health guru I know a fair bit about diet. In some ways, that’s where the trouble starts. Just when I think I am on the right track now, along comes the latest research to poke me in the ribs and say: ‘Sorry we got that bit wrong, perhaps you can eat that delicious butter after all’. We study all the latest facts and figures and names of chemicals and vitamins that I’ve never heard of. Every week there is a new super-food or health product we think we should try. You should see our kitchen store-cupboards. Although best not try and open them as you may start up an avalanche.
Then there are all the personal choices of whether to eat meat/diary/grains etc. There are so many valid medical viewpoints and ethical and moral dilemmas too.
Also, here is my major dilemma. What happens if you love cooking and grew up in a conventional household, like I did in Cornwall? Here lashings of butter, cream, milk, meat and wheat were all consumed with more than gay abandon, and still are in many households. Look at most of the cookery programmes. Most use all the ‘conventional ingredients’ like sugar and diary products. And there is no doubt, sugar is bad. Very bad. I’m not going to quote statistics here but we see evidence all around us (increasing numbers of diabetics etc) that this is so. So perhaps we need to change and adapt the way we cook and follow recipes.
Sadly, my firm belief is that a diet that may have been good for and tolerated health wise by the population forty or so years ago is not one that suits us now. Intense farming and mass production of food, pesticides, and genetically modified food, has changed the dynamics of our foods so dramatically that we cannot eat in the same way as even our parents did. Food intolerance was hardly spoken of years ago. Apart from severe allergies, sensitivities were far less common. That must tell us something. We may buy the same raw materials but how they are produced and their nutritional values have changed.
I still love to bake. I still love cake and I don’t think I could ever give it up altogether What could be better that sitting down with a mug of tea and a slice of cake on a miserable day? But I guess I will concentrate on the healthy varieties as much as possible and have the chocolate brownie once in a very special blue moon.
I’d love to hear your opinion on healthy diets and what works for you.
Health and blessings to you.