Thursday, 4 February 2010

Food, glorious food?

I heard a great talk by a nutritionist this morning. With a whole host of studies and credentials behind her name, I was glad to get to hear an honest and balanced view of food and eating.

Now, however, I am sort of wishing I had skipped it.

Okay, that's not true. But I went into the session feeling pretty good about my eating habits. We don't have chips and pop and cookies and the like in our home. We snack on fruits and vegetables and whole wheat crackers. We eat small portions of a balanced diet. We drink mainly water. We don't eat packaged/prepared foods and I try to cook as much from scratch as I can.

I still came away feeling like I might as well be eating from the four food groups of sugar, pop, chocolate and fat.

Here are some of the interesting facts I learned today:

1) Orange juice is useless as a vitamin C booster, especially when you're sick. The amount of sugar in the juice actually shuts down your immune system for about 5 hours!
2) Whole wheat crackers/pasta are really no better than their white counterparts.
3) Bran cereals are more sugar than fibre. To determine the amount of sugar (or things that become sugar (glucose) in your body ones metabolized), add the sugar, carb and fibre numbers on the nutritional label. Oh - and milk actually counteracts the fibre absorption.
4) The majority (not all, but most) cancers can be prevented through diet/lifestyle. Cancer cells "eat" sugar (glucose), and need an acidic environment in which to live. Therefore, try to eat foods that create an alkaline body (ph level between 7-8), rather than acidic.
5) Vegetables should still have a crunch to them when cooked, or you are getting almost no nutrients.
6) Milk (cow's milk, like we buy in the store) is fairly useless to us. It is not a good source of calcium.
7) Your metabolism can be controlled! Once you go longer than 3 hours without food, your body starts preparing for a fast, slowing down your metabolism. Eat something every 1.5 - 2.5 hours to counteract this. Also, muscle burns calories. 1 pound of muscle burns 60 calories every day. Without doing any exercise at all!
8) Running and heavy cardio can actually cause you to gain weight: when you are pushing your body hard for more than 30-45 minutes, your body starts to take from your muscles to supply the rest of your body. And so for every pound of muscle eaten away, you need to find a way to lost an additional 60 calories!
9) Eat carbs for fuel before exercising and protein to help repair afterwords. Otherwise your body starts to eat into your muscles again.
10) The most beneficial for of exercise is weight training. It builds muscle (which burns calories on its own!) and still gets your heart going (which is what cardio would do).
11) Remember that any form of "cleanse" or "flush" or "detox" flushes everything out. It gets rid of the bad...and the good. In 10 years of practice, our speaker only recommended 5 people actually do this. (Mainly to flush out a host of medications in the system).

Well, now you know. Do you wish you had stopped reading at the beginning? Don't you hate that knowledge = responsibility? I can honestly say that although there are some changes I will be making, I won't be drastically altering our food diet. I still think we do fairly well. And I just don't see my boys eating mounds of kale and turnip and carrot juice. This is definitely another step in my eye-opening journey about food. Each step gets me further down that path. Another small victory.


heather80 said...

I don't buy that whole wheat pasta is no better than white pasta. It may have more sugar than people realize, but it had a ridiculous amount more protein and iron.

What this nutritionist said may have some truth to it, but bear in mind, this is one person telling you something that contradicts countless other nutritionists, studies, doctors, etc.

Also, there is no such thing as a perfect diet. Nearly every food has good and bad to it, you need to just find a balance. And carrots are high in sugar, so better lay off the carrot juice, did she tell you that?

Terri-Ann said...

The focus of the food part of her talk was really about comparing the benefits as opposed to the downfalls of different foods. So it wasn't that whole wheat pasta is just as bad as white, just that the benefits aren't as great as marketing makes it out to be. She said that brown rice pasta was a better alternative.

This entry is a condensed version of her watered-down information for an audience that knows very little about this topic. I felt a little bad for her as she was trying to put things in layman's terms for us. I called her a nutritionist for ease sake, but she's more of a food science researcher. Most of what she said I have heard before. She was trying to help us understand the difference between information we get from media about food, and the actually scientific breakdown of foods.

(We did go into detail about sugars, the different kinds of sugars and how our body processes them differently. Also, we walked about how farmers don't rest the land in mass farming, and so our vegetables don't contain nearly enough nutrients anymore.)

Did a lot of what I wrote here contradict other stuff you've heard?

heather80 said...

Everything I hear about food contradicts each other. Butter: high in calories and saturated fat, but more natural. Margerine: Low in saturated fat, but much more processed. Both of these things help cause and prevent certain health issues. My solution? Go with moderation.

Also, go with your body. In my family, we have two kinds of people: One whose body handles fat and cholesterol fine (read: no cholesterol problems, etc.), but does not handle sugar well (gains weight with sugar, prone to diabetes); another with the opposite, high cholesterol, less sugar issues. I fall into the sugar category, my mother falls into the cholesterol category.

Though I do not have, nor have I ever had, high sugar/diabetes, I know I am prone to it, and should watch the sugar (do I always? No, but when I was pregnant, I sure did, in order to avoid the very real possibility of gestational diabetes). While pregnant, I watched sugar very closely, not just sweets, but always had whole grains, etc., and not only did my blood sugar levels amaze my doctors, I lost weight (in a healthy way) while pregnant. I SHOULD have gotten GD, both because of my family history, and because of my PCOS. I did not. I did not, however, watch fat as closely, and was not, due to complications, able to do any exercising (I was, in fact, considered sedentary), so it really was JUST watching sugar that allowed me those health benefits.

This would not have worked for my mother. My mother's body reacts to fat.

So, for all the conflicting stuff I hear, what I take from it is a) do what your body needs, and b) do everything in moderation. A diet consisting of ONLY things that have ONLY benefits, no negatives, would not only be very boring, but very unhealthy. Like I said, carrots were on the list of things higher in sugar, eat in moderation. There's no one on earth that would say carrots are not good for you.

heather80 said...

Also, here's a bit of interesting info for you about how the, "benefits" of certain foods keeps changing.....Cheez Whiz won a nobel prize for being the perfect food. I'm not kidding.

A lot of people choose soy because they want to avoid the hormones in cow's milk. Did you know that soy (even organic soy, I believe) is often much, much higher in chemicals and contaminates because it grows in soil that's been over-chemicalized, that nothing else will grow in? So, farmers will grow soy there once it's unusable for anything else. I think, I could be wrong, but I think this still counts as organic, as long as pesticides are not used directly on the soy.

Things considered healthy now, will be condemned in 20 years, and vice versa.

Moderation is the only way to go.

Terri-Ann said...

I couldn't agree more. There's no way I could live on a diet of kale and eggplant and turnip etc. Not only is it boring, I think I would start to hate eating. And I love food. That's why I felt after that talk that it was good information, there were one or two things I will adapt into our diet, but for the most part I wouldn't be changing. I LOVE milk and there's no way I could give it up! Plus I can't stand soy.

What's the point of living a very long, extremely healthy life if you're unhappy doing it? Our motto is also moderation.

Her practice also involves individual meal plans, which interested me. Not so much for the actual meal plan, but for the information about what each of our bodies personally needs/rejects. That really interested me.