Good nutrition is much easier than many folk think – yet it’s an issue that seems to cause much confusion and, sometimes, anxiety.
“Am I eating right?” is a question I am frequently asked.
If you are suffering from any digestive-related health problems – such as acid reflux, gastritis, recurring stomach pain, constipation, ibs – the answer is probably a resounding: No
So, where do you start when it comes to improving your diet? It’s not rocket science. Just cut out the C–R–A–P.
C = Cigarettes, caffeine, carbonated drinks; R = Refined Sugars & Flours; A = Aspirin, Alcohol (in excess); P = Processed Foods
I’m not asking you to remove all these from your diet in one hit (and I’m not suggesting that this will necessarily cure all your problems), but a gradual reduction will bring rapid health improvements and strengthen your digestive system.
If you are suffering from acid reflux or gastritis, minor nutritional changes can have a major (and, in some cases, almost immediate) impact on the healing of these disorders.
Processed foods are more difficult for the body to digest, triggering the stomach to produce more acid. Excess acid irritates the lining of the stomach, producing an inflammatory response.
If you already have inflammation of the stomach, this is the last thing you need.
Drinking caffeinated liquids, carbonated beverages and citrus juices, especially in the morning on an empty stomach, is an almost sure-fire way to delay the healing process.
Eat real, whole, fresh foods as much as possible. Don’t overeat. Where possible and appropriate, eat foods raw or with minimal cooking. Eat more plant foods than animal foods. This is the key to a healthy diet.
You may be wondering: What are “real, whole, fresh foods”? Most of the western world has become so “supermarketized” when it comes to food, that many people simply don’t know the difference between “real” food and what I call “pretend” food.
“Pretend” food is anything you couldn’t – or wouldn’t – make yourself at home. Would you use “potassium sorbate” in your dinner? How about “sulphur dioxide”, or “sodium nitrite”?
The simple questions to ask yourself before purchasing any so-called “food” are:
1. Would your great grandmother know what it was if she saw it? Would she know that chilli paste in a tube is not red toothpaste? Would she believe that milk or fruit juice could be on the shelf in a plastic bottle or “TetraPak”, instead of a refrigerator, supposedly contain no preservatives, have a two year expiry date and actually be nutrient-rich and fit for human consumption?
If the answer is no, don’t eat it. It’s not Real Food
2. Can you pronounce all of the ingredients? Do you know what they are? Would you add them to your own cooking? Do the ingredients resemble the actual product – does that strawberry ice cream actually contain strawberries – or “strawberry flavor”? Is that juice 100% juice? Or is it 35% juice, 65% other stuff (water, sugar, preservative, “nature identical flavor”)?
If you don’t know what it is, or you wouldn’t use it in your own cooking, don’t eat it. It’s not Real Food.
3. In most countries, food labeling laws require ingredients to be listed in descending order of their contribution to the product.
If sugar (or similar products such as “high fructose corn syrup”) are at or near the top of the list, this is a highly processed product your body doesn’t need. It’s not Real Food.
Where do you find “real” foods? Not usually in packets with long expiry dates and unknown substances. If you have any kind of Farmers’ Market or Growers’ Market in your area, the produce you will find there is likely to be much fresher than anything you will find in the supermarket. You may be surprised (or horrified) to know that many of the cold storage fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets could be 12 months old.
Of course, the very best place to find real, whole, fresh foods is your own garden – planting fresh veggies and a few fruit trees might sound terribly old-fashioned, but your entire body will love you for it (and the process of sowing and growing is somehow so spiritually satisfying).