Why wholefoods are king for wellbeing
Finally, to change the topic completely though building on the consumption theme, let’s talk about whole foods; that is, foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
While it’s not rocket-science that eating as many foods as possible that are as unadulterated as possible is a good idea, it seems that this is NOT what most of us are doing.
When I do sessions in workplaces about healthy eating, I usually cover this insanely vast topic in under an hour. But, what to include?
While this is an ever-evolving area, with new research coming across my screen all the time, I try my best to give a broad overview of the main principles of healthy eating and I get each participant to reflect on the principles they need to work on.
I have lately come to believe that in this day and age, perhaps the most important principle is this:
Eat as little food with numbers and difficult to pronounce words in the ingredients as possible.
My own journey in relation to my wellbeing and that of my son has taught me just how incredibly bad for us these man-made ingredients can be.
While some ingredients sound completely harmless, such as anti-oxidants, and are in things as inane as water crackers, they can turn my son (who has autism) into a wild animal, kicking, biting, spitting etc. We both also have some crazy-restrictive intolerances that, thankfully, are finally slowly improving after having worked on this over a very long period of time. Needless to say, this has all made me acutely aware of what’s in our food.
‘Eat food, not too much mainly plants’—Micheal Pollon.
These days we eat virtually no additives, and it makes a world of difference to my son’s ability to manage his emotions, participate, learn and enjoy life across the board. So, it’s timely that in the last few weeks, I have learned about “ultra-processed foods”, which, yes, sound incredibly sinister!
Yet, unless you’re what most consider to be a health nut, you are probably eating them day-in-day-out with barely a thought. (I know I warned you off bad news, but at least this is bad news you can do something about 😉.) Firstly, this ABC article ‘Ultra-processed food link to disease and death grows’ is a great place to start.
Hot on its heels was another ABC article ‘What is ultra-processed food and how to avoid it’. The definition it gives is that ultra-processed foods is those that, “undergo a multitude of processes including many that couldn’t be recreated in the home, such as hydrogenation, extrusion, moulding and pre-processing for frying”. They contain little, if any, intact whole foods. In other words, they are not really food.
Here is a list of ultra-processed foods. Chances are you’re eating at least some of them regularly:
- Sweet or savoury packaged snacks
- Ice-cream, chocolate, lollies
- Mass-produced packaged breads and buns
- Margarines and spreads
- Biscuits, pastries, cakes, and cake mixes
- Breakfast ‘cereals’, ‘cereal’ and ‘energy’ bars
- ‘Energy’ drinks, milk drinks, cocoa drinks, ‘fruit’ yoghurts and ‘fruit’ drinks
- Meat and chicken extracts and ‘instant’ sauces
- Infant formulas, follow-on milks, other baby products
- ‘Health’ and ‘slimming’ products such as powdered or ‘fortified’ meal and dish substitutes
- Ready-to-heat products including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes
- Poultry and fish ‘nuggets’ and ‘sticks’, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products
- Powdered and packaged ‘instant’ soups, noodles and desserts.
The article goes on to say that, “Ultra-processed foods make up a substantial proportion of the Australian diet…probably accounting for close to half of our energy consumption, on average”. Let that sink in.
So, I hope that this has at least been food for thought! Because what, how and where we consume both information and food have a profound impact on our wellbeing.
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