independent

Monday 23 July 2018

Eat well, nourish your mind, body & spirit

Calodagh McCumiskey - Wellbeing & Meditation

There are so many messages about food. If we think too much about it we could almost end up confused. Until relatively recently (40 years), our diet as a nation consisted mainly of locally grown food with limited processed food and sugar. Processed food and sugar has creped in and increased steadily in the last decades and our body is not responding so well.

The happy healthy centenarians of the blue zones (places in the world where there are maximum number of healthy centenarian) generally follow a number of simple patterns when eating. They stop eating when the stomach is 80 percent full to avoid weight gain and putting too much pressure on digestion. Like the old adage, 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper', they eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening. They eat mostly plants and less meat. They drink alcohol moderately and regularly, i.e. 1-2 glasses a day. Generally, they eat more traditional diets similar to what their ancestors were eating for many generations. We can all take something from these wise, healthy and happy people.

It is important to remember that when we eat, we are eating for our body and also nourishing our mind and spirit. Food should be enjoyed and savoured. They say we should chew our food 32 times, one time for each tooth. That way a lot of work is done before the food hits the digestive system.

There is no one size fits all for food. The average adult needs about 0.8g/kg body weight of protein. Athletes need more, and it also varies for children and the elderly. Carbohydrates are variable depending on activity level. And fat should not usually be more than 30% of diet. And lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. When working out the best food plan for yourself and your home, consider activity, lifestyle and goals you have (health, performance).

We are all different. 'People don't eat nutrients, they eat food'. Food should be fun, fresh and whole. Some days we need more of certain types of food and others less.

Clean food is ideal. But we should not obsess. Guilt around food distorts our perception and enjoyment of it which often creates unhealthy habits. Our mind-set and mood around eating is key. I know a number of people that maintain a 'healthy' weight out of discipline alone. They think about food all the time. Food is there to nourish us. We 'eat to live'. Sugar and other such foods like coffee can be addictive.

Obsessive thoughts about anything including food upset our life balance. Generally, we get the best out of life when we are present and fully focussed on what we are doing. So if you are eating eat. And after, be fully present in whatever that is, whether working, socializing, relaxing or exercising. Addiction to sugar and other foods and patterns, often distracts us from other things we are doing. If this is happening, it is important to look at it and find a food lifestyle that best supports you and what you want to do in your life.

Some of us have mild and even more severe allergies to things. It is amazing what happens when you cut out sugar and other foods that aggravate your system. If feeling sluggish regularly, it is well worth checking it out if something is not suiting you.

Most importantly, as we approach the festive season, a wonderful time of year in which we enjoy the best of foods and company, whatever you eat, enjoy it totally and whole heartedly daily and encourage others to do the same.

The Argus

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