Good food, bad food

The Wokingham Paper - - HEALTH - Ni­cola Strud­ley is man­ager for Health­watch Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough. Opin­ions are her own

WHICH diet are you cur­rently do­ing? Atkins, Al­ka­line, fruitar­ian, juice fast­ing, Gluten free, cab­bage soup, carb-free just to name a few. It seems like ev­ery day we are be­ing warned about the dan­gers of an­other food group.

Along­side this there has been a steady rise in peo­ple pro­mot­ing “clean eat­ing” which at its sim­plest is all about eat­ing whole or un­pro­cessed foods.

What’s the prob­lem with try­ing to eat clean? As our na­tion gets more obese and more seden­tary, surely any at­tempt at healthy eat­ing can’t be a bad thing? How­ever there have been cases of peo­ple fol­low­ing a clean eat­ing diet not be­com­ing su­per healthy but get­ting sick – women’s pe­ri­ods have stopped, cases of clumps of hair fall­ing out, not to men­tion tired­ness and ir­ri­tabil­ity.

Like any be­hav­iour (drink­ing al­co­hol, gam­bling, shop­ping) it is when the neg­a­tive side ef­fects out­weigh the pos­i­tives that it be­comes prob­lem­atic. If a per­son be­comes ob­ses­sive and rigid about healthy eat­ing and feels guilty when they com­mit food trans­gres­sions this could be prob­lem­atic.

Re­stric­tive diet regimes can cause some peo­ple to cross the line to­wards Or­thorexia which is “an un­healthy fix­a­tion with what the in­di­vid­ual con­sid­ers to be healthy eat­ing.”

Or­thorexia usu­ally starts with the de­sire to cut out foods con­sid­ered to be un­healthy such as pro­ceed, su­gary or fatty foods. How­ever, the prob­lem be­gins when healthy eat­ing turns ob­ses­sive and the list of for­bid­den foods gets longer. Re­fined car­bo­hy­drates, dairy, sugar and meat are com­monly re­moved from the diet.

Health pro­fes­sion­als are now start­ing to talk about the link be­tween nu­tri­tion and health. A group of GPs re­cently wrote to the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil re­quest­ing nu­tri­tion be in­cor­po­rated into med­i­cal train­ing.

Dr Chat­ter­jee, from BBC’s Doc­tor in the House, would like to see all GPs work­ing with Nu­tri­tional Ther­a­pists. He hopes that by ad­dress­ing life­style doc­tors can pre­scribe med­i­ca­tion less of­ten.

A bar­rage of mis­in­for­ma­tion from the me­dia may have lead you to be­lieve that some food choices are bet­ter than oth­ers i.e. good carbs, bad carbs, good fats, bad fats. Ditch the po­lar­ized view of food. All sorts of foods should be en­joyed in mod­er­a­tion. Bal­ance is the key.

One thing to re­mem­ber is that most foods are made up of a com­bi­na­tion of pro­tein, fats and/or car­bo­hy­drates. Th­ese ‘macronu­tri­ents’ are food groups we need in rel­a­tively large quan­ti­ties. Class­ing some foods as good and oth­ers as bad is not just haz­ardous from a nu­tri­tional point of view but can also be very dam­ag­ing psy­cho­log­i­cally.

We are of­ten far too in­flu­enced by other peo­ple’s opin­ions. Try not to let other peo­ples neg­a­tive com­ments af­fect you.

We are all in­di­vid­u­als with dif­fer­ent DNA, dif­fer­ent me­tab­o­lisms, dif­fer­ent builds and dif­fer­ent med­i­cal and emo­tional is­sues that af­fect our phys­i­o­log­i­cal needs and what con­sti­tutes a healthy diet for each of us. One size does not fit all.

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