Many rea­sons for food con­fu­sion

The Southland Times - - WELL & GOOD - DR LIBBY WEAVER

Ev­ery spring I travel across New Zealand and Aus­tralia and meet thou­sands of peo­ple at my live events.

It gives me the chance to meet those who ab­sorb and digest my work and I gain in­sight into the ques­tions that arise for peo­ple and some of the food and lifestyle chal­lenges they face.

As I pon­dered what topic I was going to bring to life this year, the ques­tion of ‘‘what am I sup­posed to eat?’’ was clearly top of the pile. De­spite my pas­sion and care in talk­ing about top­ics such as stress hor­mones, sex hor­mones, liver func­tion and di­ges­tion, still the most com­monly asked ques­tion I have heard over the past two years has been ‘‘what am I sup­posed to eat?’’. So I have set about do­ing all I can to end this un­nec­es­sary food con­fu­sion.

There are many rea­sons why food has be­come so con­fus­ing. Not that long ago the only place we re­ally turned to for (nu­tri­tion) in­for­ma­tion was En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica. Now if you Google ‘‘what am I sup­posed to eat?’’ you get about 2.5 mil­lion ideas. Some of them are fan­tas­tic, some pro­mote poor-qual­ity nu­tri­ent in­take while many are in con­flict with one an­other. Some of the peo­ple who write about nu­tri­tion are highly ed­u­cated in how the body works and its bi­o­log­i­cal re­quire­ments to not just sur­vive but to thrive. Yet there are other voices now in the nu­tri­tion world of­fer­ing their opin­ion on food. We all eat, so vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one has some­thing to say about food these days.

While many peo­ple are well- in­ten­tioned with what they are shar­ing, and there is gen­eros­ity and kind­ness in their want­ing to share what has made a dif­fer­ence for them, if they are not ed­u­cated in how the body works they may not know that the ad­vice they are of­fer­ing will lead oth­ers to be­come de­fi­cient in nu­tri­ents such as iron, zinc and vi­ta­min B12 (for ex­am­ple) within a year of eat­ing this way.

A way of eat­ing that pro­vides one per­son with great en­ergy, clear skin and reg­u­lar bowel mo­tions, might lead some­one else to be ex­hausted, pale, eas­ily an­gered and their hair to fall out. What you want to ob­serve is your re­sponse to the way you eat.

At univer­sity I was ed­u­cated that all I needed to do was to give peo­ple a plan to follow for them to eat well. You learn very quickly that this does not oc­cur. Peo­ple may follow a plan for a few weeks or months, but 83 per cent re­turn to the way they used to eat un­less deeper, more emo­tional work is done.

My 14 years at univer­sity cou­pled with my near-on 20 years of clin­i­cal prac­tice has led me to cre­ate what I call my three-pil­lar ap­proach to peo­ple’s health, where we ex­am­ine the bio­chem­i­cal, the nu­tri­tional and the emo­tional as­pects of health.

I met a won­der­ful lady from a ru­ral com­mu­nity who couldn’t work out why she couldn’t re­sist sweet food after din­ner. It wasn’t a lack of knowl­edge that had her eat­ing too much of her own bak­ing late into the evening. Once we dug deeper into what was oc­cur­ring in her life it be­came ev­i­dent she was look­ing for sweet­ness, for joy in her life. So we found other things that helped her feel this emo­tion and the over-con­sump­tion of poorqual­ity sweet food went from nightly to three times a month.

An as­pect of food that has changed for so many peo­ple is their re­liance of ob­tain­ing ‘‘food’’ from pack­ets. In my cur­rent live event, I have been demon­strat­ing how much sugar has in­fil­trated the food sup­ply by spoon­ing it out into glasses. Many peo­ple tell me they don’t eat that badly and yet the gasps are au­di­ble be­fore I’ve even fin­ished spoon­ing out the sugar in a break­fast that many would per­ceive as be­ing healthy.

Part of the feed­back I hear after the event is how pas­sion­ate peo­ple then feel about eat­ing more whole, real, low hu­man in­ter­ven­tion foods.

You teach me so much by what you share – I ob­serve what works for peo­ple just as much as what doesn’t. So thank you. And I hope you all live each day in touch with how much your health is worth car­ing for.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. See Dr Libby live dur­ing her ‘What Am I Sup­posed To Eat?’ tour through­out New Zealand. For more in­for­ma­tion and to pur­chase tick­ets, visit dr­


A way of eat­ing that pro­vides one per­son with great en­ergy might lead some­one else to be ex­hausted.

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