Monday, March 9, 2015

About food, in general.

Those who know me will roll their eyes. Yep - Ruth and food. This will take all night.

I love food, don't get me wrong. I love cooking and baking and eating. I watch all kinds of cooking and food related shows on TV and I love trying out new recipes from Pinterest (oh, yes, I'm so one of those moms) and also making them up. I'm actually getting pretty good at coming up with my own recipes.

But I like my food to have quality. I like fresh, organically grown ingredients. I like home-made. I like to use what is as natural as possible - real butter instead of margarines, full fat unpasteurized milk, pesticide-free vegetables, organic and free-range eggs and meat. I also like to think of how people would naturally eat. Kind of like in the "paleo diet" that's very in right now. We humans only started agriculture about 10,000 years ago - here in Europe only about 5000 years ago, here in Finland, probably like two or one thousand years ago. That is a very short period of time, evolution-wise. Our bodies - our digestive system - is still the same it was in the Paleolithic era. We're not that new a species all in all. And people back then certainly didn't eat donuts, french fries or jelly beans. (Again, don't get me wrong, I love donuts just as much as the next girl.) What we did eat was meat, vegetables, berries, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, roots. We rarely ate grains or sugar. And probably didn't eat dairy products because, let's face it, it's quite difficult to milk a wild cow. However, "milk" has always been a part of the human diet, of course, because we humans produce it too, for our babies. And women breastfed a lot longer then than these days.

So it's no wonder that when we suddenly eat all this new stuff like fat-free pasteurized, homogenized yoghurt or bagels with cream cheese or chocolate brownies, we're developing these weird food-related symptoms and diseases like obesity, diabetes, celiac disease, gout, migraine... The less we seem to be eating the way we used to eat ,the sicker we seem to be. And yet, it's also no wonder we eat all that stuff that we now have instead of just apples because we're genetically programmed not to be able to resist high energy food when we see it and smell it because of the way we naturally lived, hunting and gathering our own food, not knowing if or what we were going to eat today. Imagine if they'd seen a 500 calorie hamburger lying on a tree, after not eating a good meal in a week!

People have had lots of ideas to fix it over the past few decades when all of these problems have gradually become serious global issues: let's process the food even more, let's put in all sorts of additives, let's reduce fat, replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, let's eat more whole-grain, let's exercise more... And none of it seems to be helping. In fact, I think these are all making us worse.

Here's what I think: I think we should look at what people used to eat before they were obese, sick and dying. What did we eat that made us survive tens of thousands of years? You don't even have to look as far as a thousand years ago - what did your grandparents or great grandparents eat?


I didn't always use to eat well, either, though. When I was a kid, we didn't always have home cooked meals at home and I ate a lot of microwaved TV dinners, junk food, candy and, uh-mm, lots of cereal. Like, many bowlfuls a day, with fat-free milk. And I was not healthy. I was never overweight (over-eating was never a problem for me, just what I ate) but already when I was a child, I was suffering with migraines several days a week, I had really bad stomach aches and cramps, I was lactose intolerant and generally lacked energy - all the way to adulthood. When I was about 20, I got everything in me checked because I was just so sick all the time - there actually was blood when I went to the bathroom. They checked me for celiac disease and I even had one of those bowel screenings in case I had cancer in there or something. But they didn't find anything. All they said was, well, it could be one of those irritable bowel syndromes a lot of people have and that causes unexplained pain. Don't eat a lot of rye bread.

Very common in Finland. Source Wikipedia.

That's all the advice they had for me. And now that I think about it, it's kind of weird how they never, not once, asked me how or what I ate.

Well, they weren't doing anything for me so I decided I was going to make myself healthy. The first time I heard about the food I normally ate being processed the way it is and about additives was in this book my brother-in-law had gotten for Christmas and that was it for me!

I read more and more about it - bought and borrowed like ten more more books about food that same week - and slowly started changing my diet - I started avoiding additives instead of calories which is what I used to do and learned to cook myself with organic ingredients and started drinking a lot of water instead of everything else. I've always liked vegetables and fruits and kept up with that. I also cut down my sugar intake which was, um, lots. With a heavy heart, I slowly gave up my breakfast cereals. And surprise, surprise, all my symptoms went away! And the last thing that finally made me lose the last of the stomach aches and, um, bathroom problems, was avoiding gluten. I can eat some - like one plateful of pasta a week or some cookies, but the more I eat wheat, the worse I feel. After this discovery I read a lot about it and it made a lot of sense to it - modern "wheat" is very genetically manipulated and doesn't even resemble the kind they used to eat in, you know, Biblical times ("give us our daily bread") and most people's system just can't digest this weird new product properly (that has only been around for about 50 years). It's the same with milk. I can drink raw milk, straight from a free range, grass eating cow just fine, but I can't drink the stuff they sell at grocery stores.

So it's not wonder I like to pick what I eat. And you bet I make sure my son eats well too because he is the most precious thing in this world. And for instance, at two, he has never yet tasted candy, chocolate, juice or cookies (except one once, and even that was gluten-free, home-made and organic), he eats all the vegetables he has on his plate, no problem, and his favorite treat that he always asks for are fruits and berries. And guess what, he's healthy. He doesn't even get the flu (he did once about a year ago but it was over in like a day). When he's older and knows what candy is I know he'll taste it and all but I hope it's not that big of a thing because we never made a big deal about it at home. It's unavoidable that there will be candy and stuff at birthday parties or on other special occasions and, sure, I don't think a few times a year is that dangerous and I don't want him missing out on stuff with his friends, but I don't think it's something he needs to eat any more than that, because I do want him to be healthy. His little immune system is only just developing. We do sometimes have little treats or desserts at home but I make them myself so I know I've used good ingredients. :)

Except for soda. We don't drink sodas in this house, I find it completely useless.

(And it'll be his forbidden fruit when he's a teen and will sneak bottles of Coke in his bedroom. Ha!)

What can you do - they just make drinking it look so fabulous and fun. Source.

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