“You are what you eat.” By the end of my series of blog posts, let’s ask if that might be true, even if it’s not a “fact”.
This series will focus on all aspects of food science and nutrition. Here’s one statement about the difference, lifted from an online forum:
“Food science is oriented toward the food, nutritional science toward the person who eats it. Food science majors tend to be looking toward careers in the food industry, often in product development or food engineering. Nutritional science majors tend to be looking toward more health-oriented careers. Some will become dietitians, for example, and others are aiming at medical school.”
Why? Number 1 reason to do this series is to educate myself about both related topics. I admit that my knowledge is severely limited, and it’s taken a long time for me to start being more mindful of food intake and related things, in terms of really knowing what the whole process is about. This will help me work with all my patients including patients with eating disorders, as I know a lot about the psychological element and cognitive issues, but not much about nutrition and food science.
Number 2 reason: there is an epieimic in our country that will result in some staggering health issues and prevalence of diabetes. One projection: By 2020, 52% of all US adults will have diabetes or pre diabetes.
Therefore this is an urgent topic to start exploring or revisiting and work on how we feed children, who are the next generation of humans.
What: blog posts that focus on different categories of topics. See topics list.
When: as often as possible. I’m aiming for one post per week on this topic.
Where: I will get facts from books, films, articles and internet sites. Question all findings for accuracy, as I tend to get excited about information; I need to slow down and fact check but I am hoping you, the reader, will help with facts and opinions. Tell me what you want to know. Tell me stuff you know that I don’t know, etc.
Categories of Posts:
1.) (why)Food global epidemic: what’s going on everywhere that obesity and normal weight people with pre diabetic issue are on the rise and endangering us as much as (put here any dire human global situation.)
2.) (what): Food science: Facts about food and what is harmful and not harmful. Facts about what the world is eating at this moment in history. You judge: how bad is it? and we will together come up with another what: what would be good to replace all the not healthy foods with? What are recommended and by whom?
3.) (who and why) Education and “psycho education”: where, what, why and whom do we need to educate about food and HOW? Easy answer is “everyone age 2 or older”.
4.} New good habits: what can an average American do on a daily basis to have a good diet and how?
5.) Psychological component: more of “what”. How does food affect mood? what are eating disorders and what is disordered eating? How can food be used for mental health for everyone, as well as people with mental/emotional (and medical- the brain is in the body) struggles. A lot has been written about depression and food. We can look into that, but what about other kinds of struggles: can food affect PTSD and Anxiety Disorders? ADHD? Neurological and Cognitive Issues? How is food “medication”? What is mindful eating? what is intuitive eating? What do therapists and psychiatrists need to know and talk to all patients about?
Starting with the last one, I will write about my personal journey, some of it anyway, with food. Adult life: did I use what was taught me through action in childhood in my adult life up to now? The answer is no. The reason I am doing these posts is that this topic is very interesting to me. It’s personal, political, etc. You are engaging in a political act when you bring a healthy lunch to school or make sure your child or children are eating healthy at school. Drinking water instead of sodas and orange juice and other beverages, uncluding flavored water, is a political act.
Recently probably due to starting a yoga practice again over last summer, I started thinking more about mindful eating and slowly increasing my awareness of what liquids and solids I have been and do put in my own body. I was actually inspired by a patient who was trying out a stringent diet for good reasons of her own, including cutting out added sugar. In March I started a “sugar detox”, which I have been on ever since, with a few slips here and there. what is so great about this topic is that I am getting an education about a life and death matter. During the first weeks of the detox I became aware that I don’t just have a “sweet tooth”, I am addicted to sugar. A few months later, I have figured out that while I felt embarrased admitting it as a mindful vegetarian, I am part of the majority of humans on this planet, especially in the US. If you and your children are not addicted to sugar you are in a healthy minority. It is very easy to get addicted to sugar whether or not you think you have a prevalence for addiction. A study with rats found that cocaine addicted rats will all pick sugar water over cocaine. Make of it what you will, to be explored further with looking at research on food. I will find statistics later.
I also noticed that by cutting out all sugar except the sugar in fruits and dried fruits, that I was also not even trying to but cutting out a lot of other “ingredients”, additives, preservatives, etc. and learning some common vocabulary about substances that could be argued to not be food, depending on the definition of food, such as what is xantham gum. What is dextrose? What is maltose? What are all those ingredients I eliminate by not eating “added sugars” of any kind? Along the way I had some other great discoveries. Number 1: I want to know what I am putting in my body and why, and I think all people need to know the basics. I learn by doing and then asking and finding answers. For example, I immediately learned that orange juice is like soda, but I can add an orange to my juice that I make in the juicer.
The detox also told me interesting things about my body and taking care of it. Mood, anxiety level, spikes in moods which are typical of too much sugar in diet were improved. Digestion issues such as IBS can be almost “fixed” by rethinking your nutrition. I also found out that going to the grocery store is a huge education; food shopping is actually more fun for me as I now enjoy looking at ingredient lists and asking more questions, learning more about my ignorance! I could go on, but you get the picture. I was also inspired to start watching documentaries about food and the politics of food, as well as looking up articles on the internet and generally reading more about everything from what is malted barley flour? to how much “added sugar” is ok for the average adult? with zero being the ideal. Look at the ingredient list on some food you bought or see in the supermarket. Look at the amount of “sugars”. Why is there no RDA percentage next to it, and there is next to everything else? One answer might be that the sugar industry doesn’t want you to know. Another reason some people believe is that there is no RDA of added sugar. Given that you’re not starving, you don’t need sugar and its derivatives including artificial sweeteners at all. You could eat such that you have none of it in your diet, and you will actually benefit. The real answer is over 100% too much, as in “zero” percent.
Anyway, all this food info caused me to think about my own childhood and what I learned about food.
To be covered in another post continuing my personal journey…