Insert obligatory moan about work and life….
Ok now to the good stuff….
So I have spent two full weekends in class now but I am loving my course so every minute is worth it. I really want to share what I learn as I go on this blog- I see it as a great way to help me learn and spread the wisdom! ha
To date, we have been given two mini assignments to do which I thought would be interesting to post:
1. Keep a food diary for 14 days and write up your thoughts
2. Interview an older person (65+) and discuss what you learnt, thoughts etc.
So below are my answers
1. Keeping a food diary was not a new exercise for me. I have spent the past 5/6 years meticulously keeping a daily food diary, obsessing over what I put in my mouth and constantly counting calories and making sure I ate only low/0% fat foods and lean meats. Thanks to the media and women’s magazines for that guidance!
This past year I finally took a step away and decided to abandon the food diary and obsession with calories to focus on the nutrient density of whole foods. The goal for me has been to eat when hungry, stop when full and concentrate on eating as much nutrient rich foods as possible. However, I was still curious to see how my daily food intake macros look like on paper and whether there were any new things I could learn about myself as I have never considered to note down ‘how I feel’.
Needless to say I learnt some interesting things. Some stand outs: I don’t drink anywhere near enough water. I knew this already but seeing it on paper was a real eye opener. I was surprised that I still seem to eat the same quantity of food in terms of calories and macro nutrient ratios as I did when I was keeping a diary every day. Although I would like to think I have learnt to read what my body needs, the reality is that I don’t eat enough food and I have obviously trained my eye to know when I am within my ‘ok’ calorie range even though I don’t use calories as a measure of food anymore. I realised that even though I am making progress to get away from my old habits, I still have a long way to go. Just because I am not tracking my meals anymore doesn’t mean I have made any significant changes. This time around I went beyond the macro breakdown and found it really interesting to see how many vitamins and minerals I get from food.
I guess the biggest take away was to see just how much I am a creature of habit when it comes to food. My daily meals were pretty much identical, not a good thing for someone who is quite sensitive to overeating the same foods day in and day out. I managed to give myself an avocado intolerance doing that. I was really please, however, that my energy levels were for the most part consistent. Noting my mood made me realise the effect my stressful job is having on my life- every day I noted that I was very stressed, I also noted my skin was getting worse. Coincidence?
All in all I didn’t find the task that laborious as I used an app on my phone and I do still maintain that it is a valuable tool for someone starting out on the healthy journey or someone who wants to become more in tune with their body. It’s always an eye opener to see your diet set out in front of you on paper and it is a really useful way to figure out patterns and habits.
2. I decided to interview my step dad.
My step dad was born in 1935, and grew up during World War 2 in a small town in Holland. Cramped into a small house, occupied also at one point by two German soldiers, the family of nine had to make do with what they could. Food was a means to survive, you ate what you were given and you did not leave the table until your plate was empty. Child mortality was a real fear (his mother outlived four of her children) and so food was literally forced down your throat. My dad has vivid memories of this as he had a very small appetite as a child and was also very thin.
There was no choice of what to eat and most meals were eaten around the table together as a family- a far cry from today. Given the scarcity of food, my step dad was lucky to get three meals a day and snacks did not exist as such. Food was basic and bland and depended on what was delivered to the village. Milk, tea, eggs, sugar, flour, porridge, freshly baked bread, butter, starchy veg and local fruit like apples made up the typical daily diet. If they were lucky they had some sort of fatty cut of meat. On rare occasions fish was also available. However, as the village was located inland, it was often rotten and to this day my step dad has a severe aversion to fish. All food was cooked fresh and sweets and chocolate were an absolute luxury.
I noted a few things which are raved about and promoted today in the health world and yet were natural to my dad and his siblings. Intermittent fasting was reality, bone broth and a high fat diet were staple, people were extremely active and desserts and sweets didn’t exist….It really is amazing how far we have moved away from this. People knew how to use leftovers and avoided wasting any food, meals were home cooked and very basic- no fancy recipes or creations! In addition, the family diet revolved around what was available locally and naturally what was in season. Obesity did not exist, there were no preservatives, food colouring, chemicals etc, supermarkets did not exist…is it weird that I am almost jealous!?!?!
I found it interesting that even today my step dad’s eating habits differ significantly to mine. Yes he eats a lot more sweet things and loves a good dessert, but at the same time he does not think about food the same way I do. He does not mind what he eats at every meal and is happy to eat what my mum serves on the table. He still has a small appetite and eats quite slowly, pausing to talk to my mum and I at the dinner table. And a final note, I read through a few of the submissions to see what other people wrote and found it interesting to note that the diets of the those interviewed are all very similar even across cultures. Interesting to take a note of this.
Both useful exercises I feel.
I used http://www.sparkpeople.com to keep my food diary if anyone is interested- you can get is as an app on your phone so it quite handy.
Anyway to recap the on my course, the first weekend was mainly an introduction with some discussion around ‘big issues’ and introductions. This weekend gone was all about digestion and the digestive system. The weekend was more of a revision course for me as I studied (and LOVED) biology in school. I did, however, find it crazy that other people in my class did not know where certain organs were in the body or how our food was digested…..just mad to note how little some people know about how their body works.
I will do another post to summarize the digestive system and some of the common digestive issues we discussed.
To end on a random note…..