How many times have you pondered the idea of growing your own fruit and vegetables, having chooks roaming free, and even baking your own bread? There is certainly a lot of merit in getting back to the basics as far as good health and nutrition, not to mention the cost saving benefits. We know that a diet of good clean organic free-range produce will be lower in food additives such as preservatives, colours and flavour enhancers. And it may even provide you with a higher intake of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. A home-grown diet is also likely to be lower in hidden fats, sugars and salt found in so many processed and packaged food.
Think back to the 1950’s, 60’s and even the 70’s where the only processed foods tended to be fairly basic – foods like jam, plain biscuits like shortbread and milk arrowroot, plain breakfast cereals like corn flakes and weetbix, canned fruit and canned vegetables. These days the range has expanded to include dozens of varieties of snack food cereal bars, high-sugar dairy desserts of every description, every kind of breakfast cereal imaginable, every flavour of drink you could ever want, and for those who find it all too challenging….ready made meals in a can, or frozen ready to microwave. Not to mention the almost 20 different varieties of milk you can buy at your local supermarket! Is it any wonder we have so many people presenting with food intolerances, food allergies, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other nutrition-related illnesses?
In my role as an Accredited Practising Dietitian I frequently see children and adults presenting with symptoms ranging from skin conditions to irritable bowels to restless behaviour and irritability, as well as hyperactivity and bedwetting and “sneaky poos” in kids. Our current dietary management protocol is to trial an Elimination Diet where all the potential culprit foods are taken out of the diet and the person is limited to all the basics – plain bread, plain milk, basic vegetables like potatoes and beans, plain rice, plain pasta and plain meat. It is quite interesting how many people have an improvement in their symptoms when they go “back to basics”. We believe the reason is because of the natural and added chemicals in the food supply these days. What we don’t know is how this increased chemical load on our bodies will affect future generations – will the number of food intolerance and allergies reach epidemic proportions?
I encourage everyone to think twice before you make your next food purchase – not just thinking about whether the food is low in fat or sugar, but whether the food is close to it’s original form. It is hard to go too far wrong with fresh fruit and vegetables (especially if they are grown without chemical sprays) but consider all the highly processed snack foods you throw into your supermarket trolley and whether your body would be a little healthier without them. Snack food bars and biscuits, fancy dairy desserts, bottled pasta sauces and potato crisps are all far removed from the original basic food that they once were.
Just some food for thought!