Many reasons for food confusion
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 drlibby.com
A way of eating that provides one person with great energy might lead someone else to be exhausted.