Eating well without stress

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123RF/Markus Mainka

 

 

You just opened the fridge to get a small snack. Suddently, you are gripped by mild anxiety.  What should you eat?  It seems that today, eating well has become a stressful endavour frot with dangers.  Omega-3, fibres, sugar content, carbohydrates, whole or processed food.  Is it possible that we are just overwhelmed with too much information about food?  Let’s explore how to eat well, without stress.

 

In its August 2015 edition, the magazine “L’actualité” is exploring the issue of overinformation regarding food.  The phenomena is called (loosly translated) the nutritional white noise.  Claude Fischler, a French sociologist and anthropologist, contends that a crisis exists between humans and their relation with food, thanks to the ever present preoccupation over what we should eat, and the always expanding choices of food.  Valérie Borde, author of the featured article, researched her preferred guilty food – chocolate. She found that in the last 10 years, almost 3000 studies have been published about the effect of chocolate on health.  Overall, she found more than 80,000 studies dealing with nutrition!

Over the years, researchers and scientists have established a clear and unassailable link between poor eating habits and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.  In fact, they have been so successful in their messaging that nutrition is now seen almost as a religion.  Today, your self-image is linked to what you eat, as much as to how you look, what you do or how you interact with others. Some researchers feel that the science of food may be over exploited  or, at least, can no longer provide useful help to consumers.  There is so many recommendations on eating habits and nutrition that we, as receivers of that massive quantity of information, tend to oversimplify. Veronique Provencher, nutritional professor at Laval University, is studying this phenomena.  She contends that, as we have too much information and not enough time to process it, we unconsciously categorise food in two “buckets” only: what is good for us and what is bad for us.  We then proceed to eliminate completely what we perceive as bad, and overconsume what we believe is good.  Yet, food is more complex than that.  Chocolate is an example.  It has been dubbed as a good food for the heart, hypertension, anemia or to prevent cognitive loss. Yet, it is full of sugar and saturated fat.  So depending of where you sit in the nutritional debate, chocolate can be a miracle food or a poison….

And the field of nutritional research may be overcrowded….It is occupied by genuine scientists, but also by pseudo specialists.  There are 4,250 books registered at the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec dealing with nutrition!  Some of these books have been authored by people who have simply tested some kind of regime on themselves and have decided to write about it.  Nutrition is a lucrative business…

As personal trainers, you are in the line of fire regarding nutrition.  Your clients are often seeking your advice on what to eat, or not to eat. Your expertise carries weight, and responsibility along with it.  The article of L’actualité offers some advice about eating well, without stress. Let’s consider some key points, critically:

  • Physical activity is not a remedy to poor nutrition.  If you eat poorly, no amount of physical activity will aliviate the effects of bad eating habits;
  • Bio and organic is better and we, at Free Form Academy, are promoting it. But incidence of organic food on health is still being researched.
  • All calories are not the same.  They also provide more than just energy. So let’s be careful about blanket condemnation.
  • Lots of studies out there, but few of them are authoritative.  Meta analysis are best, because they compile many studies together.
  • Intuition is good!  Instead of listening to everybody, we should trust our instincts about what we eat.
  • No food should be banished.  A piece of cake can be good, but not the whole cake, every day!
  • Detoxification or fasting is controversial.  There is a debate about its benefits. Be aware of it.
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