My title of How to eat implies that I know all the answers to the complex questions of what is the perfect diet and how to eat. The straight up simple answer (from my experience anyhow) is that there is no one absolute and perfect way to eat. To think so is daft and to argue so is closed-minded. How can one diet at all times and phases of life work for so many culturally and geographically diverse people?
We are dynamic beings in an ever changing world, with multiple ‘things’ influencing our health and homeostatic balance at all times; our environment is constantly changing, our stress levels fluctuate alongside our ability to tolerate “stress”, and alongside this the trillions of cells in our gut are in constant dynamic flux alongside us – the beauty of symbiosis. We are complex, food is complex, and health is complex!
I think it is best to say: get curious, learn to be intuitive, take people’s big claims of knowing the definitive answers like a pick and mix adding what you intuitively agree with to your health strategy. Try things but don’t cling blindly to them; test them out and see where it gets you.
Learn about your body, your ancestry, your environment from the ground up: the soil, wild plants, what you can grow yourself in a vegetable plot, local agriculture, farmers markets and the whole local supply chain. Learn about the food our oceans and rivers provide. Get to know your food likes and dislikes, be inquisitive about your food cravings and mostly, be flexible because our health needs also change over time.
There are many theories proposed about the cause of our current health and obesity epidemics. I think food and nutrition, activity levels and weight, genetics and environment are very complex and interrelated issues. They cannot be explained by just one theory: we are mind, body, emotions and the memory of all events in our lifetimes. Our health even extends beyond our own control and experiences as research shows us that genes are influenced by the stress our mothers experienced before and during pregnancy, what we were fed as an infant and even what our mothers and father ate in the preconception and pregnancy period. Amazing! Generational trauma can also influence our health.
Some things we can change, some we can improve; the rest we cannot worry about and all of us can do our best to nurture and nourish our bodies and minds.
A few things I would pay attention to are food volume (we eat too much), food processing such as refined and high sugar carbohydrates, heat processed fats, poor quality or burnt charred protein; food (and health supplement) quality, excessive use and hence intake of food additives, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, herbicides, etc; our environment and exposure to endocrine disrupters, heavy metals (e.g. amalgams, water quality, food quality, local industry) and carcinogenic substances; medication use and its impact on our homeostatic balance in addition to the gut microbiome; gut health especially in relation to food quality and also foreign travel, stress management, sleep, exercise and movement and our emotional / psychological health.
Our bodies health relies on a delicate balance of so many factors.
A healthy body is resilient, resistant to illness and infections, and adaptive; but there are only so many insults that it can take before it all starts to spiral into a mess.
The sooner you pay attention and make changes whilst removing trigger causes, then the better.