Food, nutrition and health

“Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour” William Cowper – “The Task” (1785)

After Christmas we may well be feeling the effect of the fact that 1g of fat contains double the calories of 1g of carbohydrates or protein. It was interesting to note that we eat fewer calories than 50 years ago, having been encouraged to cut down on saturated fats and sugar. But the flipside is that there is more processed food and attractively presented prepared meals available. This may cut down our consumption of complex carbohydrates which help keep our hunger satisfied for longer and means that food on our plate is further away from its healthiest, natural state. However, it is encouraging that certain food companies (and we have some excellent local ones) are working hard to exclude trans fatty acids, source local produce and use minimum additives.

A healthy eating regime needs to include foods of different colours to ensure you get a variety of nutrients, as well as a combination of food type – protein, fat and carbohydrate – to ensure the ‘building blocks’ for a healthy body.

It is also about eating balanced portions of freshly cooked ingredients on a regular basis to keep your digestive system active. By ‘starving’ yourself or missing a meal your body starts to go into ‘survival’ mode and slows your metabolism down, but it seems our current lifestyles and social habits don’t lend themselves to Adelle Davis’s adage – “Eat breakfast like king, lunch like lord, dinner like pauper”.

Meals often get squashed into the time available, yet taking time to enjoy the preparation of a meal and then to eat it slowly, savouring every mouthful, means you’re less likely to overeat. This ritual can become part of the holistic way of looking after yourself. Nutrition is like a good savings account – one whose interest is compounded at every meal and is an important key to maintaining good health.

‘Southwell Life’ – February 2007

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