A brilliance struck me. Unexpectedly! I research food and beverage trends as part of my job, therefore to find and read Ian Spreadbury’s “Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity” was normal. As I finished the article, I sat back in my chair and exhaled. I smiled. I saw with new perspective my countless conversations about food policy, co-worker’s diet strategies, role of exercise as a public health solution and explanations for hunger, why it exist and what role capitalism plays in its creation or existence. My smile grew. At least now I know how, I will eat, for the remainder of my life.
How Did We Get Here
Countries have always dealt with lack of food for the population through their use of available plants and animals. However, to extend the available food to populations that grew faster than food-supply technology, techniques were developed to reduce plant and animal waste and to preserve food so that longer supply chains could feed more people. The food industry we know today began. The industry developments resolved starvation, encouraged the development of trade agreements between many countries and lengthened the average life span of the populations. However, the unintended consequence was the introduction of foods that caused our bodies to store more energy and change the body’s long-term bacterial balance—Starvation occurs less, but obesity, diabetes and other diet related diseases have all risen.
The cooperation of government and industry introduced a segmentation for food as good, bad, healthy, and others; the segmentation facilitated industry growth and broad food availability through competition. The competitive environment produced public policy and scientific research with poor and inconsistent advice based on the premise that identified good foods and techniques as those that contribute to less starvation and greater food availability. As the scientific community performed research, raised other questions and researched the unanswered questions, the assumptions built into the original work were assumed complete. But, they were not. Thus, the bad segmentation of foods, while driven by correct facts lacked connections to cause and effect drivers of long-term health. Society was overconfident.
The Summary I Gave My Mother
- We are what we eat.
- Poor foods, so easily digested that they confuse our body, slowly create negative conditions and diseases in our bodies, such as obesity, diabetes, periodontal disease, and likely others we cannot yet explain.
- Poor foods are not poison, they do not kill us right away, they taste good, they provide convenience to society that allows a small percentage of people to feed a large percentage of the world’s population.
- Route to better health outcomes, reduce poor foods and increase good foods.
But, each of us faces a dilemma. Our self-interest versus the need to feed the world’s population. If everyone adopts diets without poor foods; food shortages would result. Increased starvation. More wars over scarce resources. Society has a clear challenge to find replacements for poor foods. The individual dilemma becomes what do I do until society finds enough replacements.
What I Will Do
I will change my eating habits to make poor foods as low a percentage of my diet as feasible.
Poor Foods – products/recipes that include:
- sugar and any of its substitutes (sweeteners, all types of syrup, chemical sweetener that enable any food marketed as “low-calorie”)
- grains and the many derivatives (whole grain products as well as processed grain products, which include corn, wheat, barley, rye, malt, flour, flatbread, tortilla and bread among others)
Better Foods – products and ingredients that include:
- tree nuts & fruits, olives, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, apples, oranges and other related tree products
- beans and peas
- other fruits such as berries of all types, grapes, tomatoes or cranberry
- unprocessed leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale or greens
- unprocessed root vegetables such as carrot, radish, potato, yams, sweet potato, ginger, onion or fennel
I will exclude as a technique of food preparation juicing, because it removes the fiber of the unprocessed vegetables and fruits, and smoothies, because of the likelihood the shop worker included sugar or a substitute in the product. Both industries remind me of baby food. Enough said.
My mother had a question for me, “What about fat in the diet?” The great lie of the competitive nutrition world, intended by some and unintended by others, was that reduced fat consumption would be impactful in dietary results. Dairy and fats are an energy source, which the body must decide — store or burn. Government and industry have spread the naive myth that the body makes the decision based on the level of physical activity. Closer to the truth, the body decides by the composition of what you eat. Natural amounts associated with the sources above provide health benefits, fats added in preparation of the vegetables and beans listed above should be minimally processed. People must avoid excessive levels of processed grain and sugars, which cause the body to store rather than burn fat by adjusting metabolism regardless of physical activity.
My eating habits will cost more. The poor foods are cheap and plentiful, therefore, to remove them requires a change in mindset about grocery shopping and how to select items from a restaurant menu. Grocery shopping frequency will increase to offset less preservatives. Restaurant order patterns have to avoid desserts, most advertised specials and cheap introductory offers. When eating out, it is best to think cheap or special means processed grains and sugars. I will likely choose salads with proteins or main dishes with vegetables, while making careful note of the sauces and accompaniments that might be provided.
I avoided the many reasons people eat in a society with a plentiful food supply. Parties, Depression. Celebration. Convenience. People eat for a variety of reasons. Public policy must incorporate the various reasons into its communications to improve health consequences. A topic for further discussion.
Epilogue: In the eight months I’ve implemented my program, fifteen pounds lost and clothes fit better. All the best.
An update in Feb 2018. Researchers published Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet Analysis which reinforced the discussion and decisions above–Eat what you enjoy, but exclude sugars and processed grains. So in my preferences listed above, many whole grain products can be added back into the diet, if so desired, but the remainder of the thoughts and knowledge proves once again, processed carbohydrates, cheap foods in general, and convenient foods are not going to be in my diet. It cost to eat well.