It seems to me that only a few years back the big health craze for staying fit was to get up and exercise. There was a national call to get off the sofa, get the kids away from the TVs and computers, and stop being a couch potato. Even some of the "fattest cities in the country" rallied their people together and started exercise clubs. (Remember the picture of the group of people in Philadelphia running up the steps of the capitol "Rocky" style?) We were all encouraged to do whatever we could to get moving. And, while we all agree there are many benefits to physical exercise there seems to be shift in thinking these days about what it takes to really get fit and stay fit - and it is now aimed directly at food itself.
How many times in my life have I heard that expression - you are what you eat? Yet, never before have those words wrung so true. For the first time I really think I have a clear understanding of the meaning of that statement. Of course, if you eat a bunch of potato chips you are not literally going to turn into a potato chip, but on the other hand, if you regularly eat fresh fruits and fresh vegetables your internal body systems are going to work a lot better. Not just your digestion, but even the way your body decides when it needs to store fat and when to burn it. And that depends on what you eat - whether you're providing the right energy source or throwing roadblocks in the way that stop your natural system. And it all comes down to the type of food we eat - and that's what the conversation seems to be about these days.
Everyone is talking about the food we eat. We are finally starting to focus on how our fast-paced culture is killing us. Yes, we are very industrial. Yes, we work hard, and, yes, as a result of that we accumulate a lot of "things." What family these days doesn't have at least one Ipod, cell phone and flat screen TV - and it goes on and on and on. But at what cost?
According to Mike Pollen - a health writer who wrote the new book Food RULES, only about a generation or so ago families were spending more of their income on good food and less on doctor bills. These days we spend less on the food we consume - because we are buying more processed foods that are cheaper to produce and use chemicals to preserve them so they can stay on store shelves longer-but are not great for our diet. Afterall, does that make sense? Food manufacturers are putting preservatives (chemicals) into the fresh foods they make so they can last longer. Where is the freshness in that? If we look around our kitchens, what do we see? Canned vegetables, boxed pastas with powdered sauces, jars of sauces that could last a year in the pantry and still taste the same, canned soups, etc. That's not even mentioning the cookies, chips and frozen sandwiches and pizza - all ready to eat. Sure, we all have our token fruit bowl piled high with apples, oranges and bananas. But, really, in the course of a day how much of those are we eating compared to the other stuff? And, how much ends up in the trash because no one ate it before it went bad?
We have to start eating right if we are going to feel better and be in truly better health. We need to eat more real food, not processed food. We have to get back to the basics, eating food that comes from the ground or from animals, that have not been processed or had sugars or chemicals added to them, and that reach our table in a state of freshness. It may be time to stop and smell the roses, and along the way plant some vegetable seeds.
Published On: April 06, 2010