Many of us may remember the food pyramid that was taught in school. The government thought it was a good idea to teach Americans how to eat properly. The pyramid, or more aptly the triangle is designed to show how many servings of each type of food should be eaten on a daily basis. The bottom of the triangle holds the largest space and thus it contains the largest portion of servings; eight glasses of water. As the triangle gets smaller, the servings of each type of food gets smaller, as well, with the top reserved for fats, oils and sweets. It is recommended that servings of these items are to be eaten sparingly.
The food pyramid is a great idea. However, it is lacking in an important area; it doesn’t tell us to use natural food products instead of processed foods. For example, if you look at the cereal and grains section, you will see one loaf of whole wheat bread. The whole grain is what our body accepts as a nutritional supplement. However, the box of cereal, white rice, white flour pasta, white bread and white flour crackers displayed do not have any whole grain nutritional value. The white rice and white flour shown have literally been bleached of all the good stuff.
Whole grain rice, breads and cereals afford our bodies with fiber in our daily diets. Bleached white flour products have sometimes added back fiber, but they are still missing important vitamins and minerals. According to www.whfoods.org, the process of removing the outer hull of the brown rice reduces the vitamin and mineral value by as much as 67-90%. That’s a significant reduction.
Most cereals at the grocery store are marketed to children. Leprechauns and rabbits bounce around in ads to show how cool their cereal is. Children beg their parents at the grocery store which cereal they want and the parents allow them to make their own dietary decisions. These cereals are not only made with bleached flour, the manufacturer adds an exorbitant amount of sugar to the product. Instead of eating a balanced breakfast, which gives kids the much needed ‘brain-food’ they need to keep up their energy levels, children across America are instead filling up on junk food in the mornings.
This non-food is not only keeping away the nutrition, it is not filling them up. Within an hour or two they are hungry again. During their first recess instead of eating an apple, they fill up on more unhealthy foods like candy, chips a sugary granola bar and soft drinks and continue the process throughout the day. Excessive amounts of sugar leads to hyperactivity, not to mention addiction and ultimately obesity. When we eat processed sugar or sucrose our body only wants more of the same. By virtue of the food addiction we are constantly hungry and crave only more sugar which keeps the scales tipping at alarming rates.
Thirty years ago, Americans were slim. Now, between the sugar, fast food and processed food intake we are a nation of obese people. It is estimated that over one-third of the American population is obese. Those who are obese have at least 20% or more additional weight than that of a healthy person. That is like having an extra 1/5th (or more) of a person attached to you.
Our fast food addiction is unfortunately having a global effect, as well. Just a few years ago, one would be hard pressed to find a single overweight Parisian. Now, in only a few short years since my last visit I see them everywhere. One French person even argued with me that McDonald’s is perfectly healthy to eat once a week!
There is another problem with non-food items being taken in. Allergies to food is growing at an increasing rate. According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, while any one person might be allergic to any sort of food, the most common allergies are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnut, cashews, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Milk products are not easily digested by anyone because after the age of two or so, our bodies no longer create the necessary amount of lactase required to break down the lactose in the milk. Many people can tolerate eating dairy products, but it is not being broken down in the body as well as it should. One thing that struck me the most is learning that all other mammals only drink milk while they are nursing with their mother. It is only the human population that decided it was a good idea to take cow’s milk created for their young and turn it into human food.
Speaking from personal experience, I have been struggling with my breathing as well as with skin allergies since arriving in France nearly ten months ago. Doctor’s haven’t been able to rectify the situation, so I have taken matters in my own hands. One thing that I noticed that has changed since being here is my diet. While I eat healthily for the most part, I began consuming all the delicious sweets the French make on a daily basis. While it wasn’t impacting my weight, my eye lids were red and scaly for the last few months. Not only was the itchiness painful, it also aged me by about ten years. Seven days ago, I decided to cut the sweets out of my diet and within only a couple of days, my eyes were back to normal.
While I gave up milk for good at the age of 18, I still have had an enormous craving for cheese and yogurt. This addiction has been much worse since living in France. While I don’t know for certain yet, I believe it is the intake of cheese and yogurt that have been contributing to my breathing problems. As of this week I will discontinue eating these two items and see how my body reacts.
The best way to find out if you suffer from a food allergy is to stop eating it for a month and observe how your body reacts during that time. After a month or so, you can try eating that item again and if you have a reaction you know for sure that the item eaten is the culprit.
While allergens in food are harmful, healthful foods can cure ailments. Take, for example, the actor Dirk Benedict who cured his cancer, not by ingesting medication or accepting chemotherapy, but by converting to a macrobiotic diet. Thirty years later he continues to be cancer free.
A macrobiotic diet essentially consists of eating heavy grains as a staple as well as vegetables and beans. Processed foods are not allowed. In addition, it is recommended that foods are grown locally and natively to where the person grew up; since, according to macrobiotics, it is the indigenous food products that people biologically are able to process considering those foods grew in their own environment. Therefore, avocados would best be eaten by those residing in tropical climates and so forth. I am not saying that a macrobiotic diet is the only way, but it worked for Mr. Benedict and others, so who knows, maybe we are supposed to eat in this fashion.
While the food pyramid is a great idea, it needs a little work. Instead of eating processed peanut butter and meats, eat the real stuff. I always found it odd that we all take so many vitamin and mineral supplements. It seems to me that if we ate properly we be assimilating all the nutrition we need.
Thank you for reading and Namaste! (The Light in me recognizes the Light on you!)