It sure seems as if we can’t agree on what food is best for us. Maybe that is because those in charge of formulating the messages we hear the loudest follow an agenda that is not aligned with what’s best for our health in the long run. The main problem is that fresh produce doesn’t come with a marketing budget, or a healthy profit margin. And whether we want to admit it or not, advertising works and if it’s true that 98% of food related ads that children view (3920/year) are for products high in fat, sugar and sodium, how can an apple ever have a chance! We are constantly bombarded by the media with information on junk science, fad diets and food industry propaganda. So what is one to do? Come and cook with us!
Even the most dedicated of us have a hard time knowing what we are supposed to eat to be healthy. The media is sending us mixed messages. Take the issue of fat, for example. A big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that “Saturated fat does not cause heart disease” after we have been told for decades that non-fat is the way to go. Then there is salt which is said to raise blood pressure and cause hypertension and still, processed food is ram-packed with it. And while we all agree that sugar has no true health benefit apart from making food taste sweeter, it is still ubiquitous in most things we buy. All this opposing dieting advice makes my head spin, so when in doubt, I turn to my mom’s use of Oscar Wilde’s famous quotation: Everything in moderation, including moderation. And that is particularly true when it comes to food.
Let me just say that I don’t have the answer for you, either. Eating healthy is a complex issue where no one single dish, food or even chemical compound can be identified as being the one thing that will make – and keep – you (specifically) healthy. Everything is linked with each other. What works for me is to form my own opinion on how my body reacts to certain foods. I try to get a sense of how I feel before, during and after a meal. For example, the combination of wheat and sugar in a store-bought baked good is something that will stop me in my tracks right after I finish devouring it. I now know to avoid it, or at least, have it as a very very sometimes treat.
My main recommendation is to use a wide range of fresh, seasonal and local vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains and healthy proteins as a good rule of thumb on what’s a healthy meal. And home-cooked is definitely better than factory-processed, as you will know what ingredients you used and where they came from.
There have been many grass-root efforts to raise awareness of how a Western diet impacts health, food safety and the environment. Along these lines, the highly anticipated movie Fed Up is hitting theaters tomorrow bringing the issue of our misguided food and exercise policies to a wider audience (no pun intended). Watch the trailer and visit the website to find a movie theater near you showing Fed Up. I’m thrilled to see the conversation about healthier food being put to the masses and to celebrate the release, I’m sharing a few of my favorite vegetables side dishes that will bring some color, nutrients and delicious flavors to your dinner table. Cook more often! Do it for you, do it for your family, do it for me! Come and cook with us!