Sunday, 13 September 2015

So, What Do You Eat?

So, what do you eat?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this question I would have at least $167 by now. It is one of those questions that people ask when they are looking for change, either to lose weight, regain health or increase their energy. Current wisdom tells it is all about the food well maybe a bit about exercise too, but food definitely.

8 weeks postpartum with my 4th baby. Butter and cream feature heavily in my diet.

Sometimes I tell people what I have eaten over the last few days because that is what they think they need to hear. Often when I do, there is a look of deep confusion on their faces because what I do eat is not what they expect. The excessive amount of cream and butter might have something to do with it.

But the reality is, what I eat has no bearing on your health goals.

What I mean by that is that even if someone the same height as me ate exactly the same amount of the exact same food as I eat we still wouldn’t end up the same weight, with the same health and the same level of energy. Because there is a whole lot of things that aren’t food that regulate how your body uses what you eat. You aren’t what you eat.

 You see the problem is we look at health like a simple maths equation, but it is not. Ratios like calories in: calories out don’t add up. We are looking at it all the wrong way. We are more like a garden than a sum of our food.

Your body is an ecosystem; it has you, and a hoard of hitchhiking bacteria, yeasts and even viruses. All of these critters, including you, are affected by the environment in which you live.

So, imagine yourself as a garden. What is going to grow in your garden is going to depend on a number of factors, some in your control, some out of your control.  And exactly like a garden these include: how much sunlight you get? How long is the night (as in when the lights are actually off)? What is the temperature range through out the day/throughout the year? How much water do you get? How close are you to the ocean? What altitude do you live at?

You wouldn’t have much luck growing orchids in the Sahara. You could fertilise them with the best orchid food but they would die. Same would go for cacti in the Florida Everglades. It is not about the food.

Which foods are healthy for your body depends on the context. So unless you factor in my microbiome, the temperature inside my house, how much time I spend outside, how much incidental movement I get, how warm my bed is,  what times I eat, how much sunlight I get, how healthy my relationships are, how stressful/relaxed is my lifestyle… and a myriad of other factors, telling you what I eat for dinner is of no consequence.

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