The age old Question! What is the perfect diet…….
I recently watched a program called “The World’s best and worst diets”. Basically it was a look at 50 different diets from all corners of the world. From Australia, UK and the USA, to the Mediterranean diet, Nordic diet, African and Island diets.
I watched in horror and disgust at the rate of dental decay in children as young as 3 in Mexico, a mouth full of metal teeth, a result of consuming half a litre of soft drink a day. Obesity rates souring in Western countries and the rise of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in countries that consumed largely processed and refined foods, with little fruit, veg or clean protein. Cultures and villages in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by an abundance of seafood and fish, coconuts and tropical fruit, yet through Western influence, existed on a diet of canned vegetables and tinned meat. Their unintentional ignorance and lack of nutritional education broke my heart. It showed hospital beds full of amputees, a result of the ravaging effects of diabetes.
Somewhere in the middle, showed the average UK diet, consisting of processed, sugary cereal, soft drink, processed meat and very little fresh produce.
None of this surprised me.
What did surprise me somewhat,was the huge variety in the diets deemed the most healthy, boasting long life and low levels of disease. In Ethiopia, families eat a largely vegetarian diet full of legumes, whole grains and vegetables, yet in Sweden, good health is attributed to the high saturated fats from dairy and meat. The ever popular Mediterranean diet is a combination of lashings of olive oil, hand made pasta, and anti oxidant rich vegetables. In France, dine on red wine, cheese and bread over your 2 hour lunch break. 2 hours!!
How much does that say about the mindfulness of eating, taking your time and enjoying your meal.
So what is the key to the perfect diet? What did all of these different, healthy diets have in common. They did not eat the same types of food, some were vegetarian, some ate only raw meat.
The commonalities were eating locally, seasonally and mindfully. Almost all cultures with good health and longevity contained little to NO processed foods. No packets, jars or frozen meals. No additives, colours, numbers or preservatives. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are preserved (naturally) in abundance, meat and fish is raised, caught and prepared fresh, breads, pasta and wine is all hand made, using home grown ingredients. Grains are grown, picked, ground and soaked, they do not come out of an 80 cent white flour packet. Food is respected and seen for what is it. Fuel and nutrition.
My take home message, there is no one perfect diet. The perfect diet for you is one with little to no processed items, emphasis on home grown, organic and local, cook everything from scratch, take time to enjoy your meals and only eat when you are hungry. Simple.
Your health is not a given, it is a privilege.