You Are What You Eat (so be healthy and be nice to old ladies)
June 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
I sometimes wonder what happened to the little girl who once sat in the paddocks, making clover necklaces thinking that the afternoon would never end and dinner would never arrive. It seems I hardly blink now and it’s another dinner, another morning, another Saturday. Not only do I want to run to Italy to join the slow food movement, I’d like to sign up to the slow life movement as well.
It was in this state today of exhausted bewilderment that I watched an obnoxious fat kid stick his bag on the seat next to him to stop an elderly woman from sitting down. Taking it upon myself to stare him down I was able to see him smirk at the woman from somewhere within his three chins. Now before you go getting all ‘DISCRIMINATION’ on me, the kid was overweight in the jowly way reminiscent of chips, takeaway and soft drink rather than thyroid malfunction.
I can imagine this precocious little prick *ahem* brat screaming until his mother fed him ice cream when all he needs is a firm hand across the backside (Christos Tsiolkas anyone?) But this got me thinking about how important good, ‘clean’ food is to not only a child’s cognitive development, but also people’s personalities in general. Despite what you may think, the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is absolutely true (no doubt Hannibal Lecter can vouch for this), and diseases of deficiency are becoming more and more of a problem.
A 2009 study showed that children who added a specific vitamin and mineral mix to a daily drink performed significantly better on mental performance tests than children whose drink didn’t contain the added nutrients.
In Australia, the change to a European diet and lifestyle has caused problems for many indigenous people. The federal government recognised that poor diet is a major reason why many Indigenous people have poor health and why so many Indigenous people suffer from chronic diseases.
Another recent study in Great Britain has revealed that 80% of people with mood disorders noticed that food choices affected how they felt. They named sugar and alcohol as food stressors, and supportive foods were water, vegetables, fruits, and oil-rich fish.
Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for our hormones and brain chemicals, which regulate how we feel. For example, serotonin is a brain chemical that makes us feel calm and relaxed and is produced by carbohydrates. The cognitive transmitters that make us feel active and alert – dopamine and norepinephrine – are produced by the amino acids found in protein-rich foods.
These are just a couple of examples, of how the various chemicals in your brain need the right food to function, and the right food isn’t highly processed junk. Not only do refined foods lack nutrition, they are high GI which means the body is given too much energy too quickly, not only making it harder to burn and turning it to fat, but also impacting the body’s chemical balance leaving you feeling anything from irritable to emotional to exhausted.
Things to remember:
- Use food to heal, not to hide – A diet low in sugar, salt and caffeine will help your immune system function in times of stress
- Variety is the key to success – protein, carbs AND FATS! Remember that healthy fats – Omega 3’s and 6’s – are an important part of your diet (not saturated fats). And always colour colour colour – stack that plate with a the full colour spectrum of vegetables.
Of course diet can’t be solely blames for tantrum throwing children and anxious, unhappy adults, but it is an important contributing factor and everyone should give their happiness the greatest chance!