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January 7, 2020

The Big Picture

mairlyn is dressed on a coat and scarf and is off for a walk

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I believe that we have become so fixated on the minutia of eating that we have forgotten the big picture.

We need to get back in touch with the basics.

You know ~ fruits and vegetables, the family of pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils, split peas and soy), whole grains, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, lean protein, heart healthy fats, lower fat dairy products, eggs and don’t forget to get enough sleep, go for a big walk every day and make time for friends and family.

I’m tired of the new bad guy on our plates. I believe that demonizing foods as evil is the wrong approach. I’m really tired of catch phrases like eating clean and cheat days. Eat foods that are healthy, you know what they are. There shouldn’t be cheat days, because food should never make you feel badly about yourself. Food is supposed to be nourishing and enjoyed. If food is your only friend, that’s a totally different issue.

How about we put sugar back where it belongs, as an ingredient in treat foods. Let’s face it, no one needs to eat cake, cookies, ice cream and donuts every day. They are treats, something you eat very occasionally, and then to be enjoyed, not scarfed down. I’m all for a fabulous slice of chocolate cake but I want to linger over it, loving every minute until my next celebration. Eating mindfully and savouring the experience.

Let’s stop avoiding entire food groups which in the long term can or may compromise your gastro-intestinal health. Your GI is unique to what you eat. Eliminating a food group because someone told you that it would reduce your bloating can or may make the situation worse, unless you’ve been diagnosed with a medical issue like celiac, gluten or lactose intolerance by a specialist in that specific area. Don’t let Dr. Google diagnose you. Self-diagnosing is dangerous on so many levels. See a medical professional.

As a food disappears from your regular eating pattern the ability to digest it properly does too. We’ve lost billions of healthy bacteria in our GIs by eliminating the foods that provide that healthy good bacteria as well as the foods that feed that good bacteria. Want to eliminate bloating, eat a balanced diet which includes all the food groups, eat slowly, drink enough water during the day to help make your BMs on the softer side and go for a walk. If that doesn’t help, go see a medical professional.

Let’s stop throwing our food away. Statistically we throw out 40% of the food we buy. The latest stats on this (2019) suggests it might be closer to 50%. It’s not just you wasting your hard earned money, it’s the impact of food waste on farmlands and our environment. Think of the wasted natural resources like land and water, the wasted man hours, the waste of fuel to bring the food from the farms to our tables. It’s a huge problem that rarely gets talked about.

Let’s get back into our kitchens armed with back to basic foods & ingredients and get cooking. Let’s teach our children how to cook. Not only will this impact our health, but learning how to be creative with leftovers because you know how to cook reduces waste from farm to fork.

I still believe that the rise in type-2 diabetes and heart disease is linked to the demise of mandatory Home Economics classes that taught generations “how to cook”. Without these basics skills we are doomed to forage our local grocery stores for pre-packaged items.

How about spending more time walking than sitting? There’s another throw-back lifestyle choice that is an easy way to get your body moving the way it was meant to move. You don’t need to join a gym, but you do need to get moving. Walking in nature? Even better. The Japanese call it forest bathing. They know that a walk in nature is good for your body and your soul.

Let’s stop vilifying one food and giving another food hero status. Sure some foods are more loaded with the good stuff, but if we ate a variety of foods we would be getting all of the good stuff.

Let’s focus on the big picture.

To quote Richard Beliveau PHD “It’s not what you eat once a week, it’s what you eat three times a day.”

So let’s head into your kitchens and eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, the family of pulses, lean protein, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, lower fat dairy products, eggs, healthy fats and the very occasional treat.

Let’s sit down at the dinner table to eat instead of in front of the TV or our devices, let’s ban devices when we are eating all together so we can eat mindfully and enjoy each other’s company.

Let’s go for a walk every day for the joy of moving.

Let’s make time for face to face conversations with family, friends and colleagues.

Let’s have some fun and lighten up.

Let’s be kind to one another.

Because to date there is no magic bullet in pill form.

The only magic bullet that I know of is called following a healthy lifestyle.

Now, I’m going for a walk and then I’ll probably have an apple when I get back.

Mairlyn is the author of Peace, Love and Fibre her 8th best selling cookbook handbook that embraces all things healthy and fun.

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