An expert look at understanding food choices in a changing world
Like everything else, food has had its share of questions and these have been present for as long as life has been around.
Food is a central theme or focal point in any culture or society. The birth of a child is an occasion to bring out the food, a baby dedication another call to load the tables with all manner of fine cuisines. A wedding would go down in history as a total flop if food was not the highlight of the event. You get the point. Food is an integral part of living; food sustains life amongst other components. Each culture shapes and defines its food choices and each home adapts it to meet the needs of the family.
Food or dietary choices, is not something that many of us growing up from the sixties through to the eighties had. We ate to live and ate what was provided at meal times, no questions asked. We ate what was available fresh from the source. If one chanced walking into any rural or urban home at any given week day, at noon time, the meals were certain to have a ‘sameness’, a form of starch (most likely ugali), a vegetable (guaranteed Sukuma wiki), and a protein (this may have varied from home to home depending on the economic power). It most likely would have been some form of bean or meat stew (beef, chicken, fish). We ate to be satisfied, to have a full belly, regardless as to whether it provided adequate nutrition or not, but for the most part it did.
Enter technology. With the agrarian culture giving way to technology, the world shrinking and travel allowing different cultures to exchange and integrate ideas, our feeding habits and dietary choices are drastically changing.
While in times past our choices were majorly cultural, passed on from generation to generation, People are waking up to the fact that they need to know why they do what they do. The majority of the populace is questioning the validity and point of many previously accepted as the norm practices. Scenarios such as this one “cucu, why do we eat maize and beans with no oil?” and cucu’s reply, “Because our people have always eaten maize and beans with no oil, Gikuyu ate it this way” is not fitting the bill in today’s world. As absurd (to some) as that may sound many cultures can relate to these answers as the reasons why communities subsist on particular staples.
With the rising health consciousness our choices are fast changing, owing to the increasing correlation between dietary choices, lifestyle and disease. Many people are no longer content to just eat and be satisfied, they want their food to positively influence their health and keep them alive.
We are what we eat is a slogan that has been around for a while now and more people are wondering if what they are eating is eating them, whether it is adequate and if it is the right thing to eat.
Fortunately there is a whole slew of information, practically at most individuals’ fingertips, that is available if persons are willing to search it out, but for those who have no time for research, nutrition educational lectures seminars and workshops are available. Also available are easy to read books for dummies written by the tens of thousands.
In the fairly recent past, dietary classification has helped simplify food answers or food paths. A good percentage of the 7 billion people population have heard of the various classifications that define various dietary choices.
Here Are Some Of The Classifications
A Vegetarian is someone whose food choices are solely from fruits, vegetables, roots, grains, nuts and seeds. Vegetarians do consume honey and wear clothing or accessories made from animals. This is what makes them different from Vegans, who are also vegetarians but do not eat any animal or animal products nor do they wear or ornament their dwellings with animal products. They are heavy on animal rights. The Vegan and Vegetarian dietary choice has been in the limelight in the last decade due to its positive impact on health (more on this at a later time). Lacto-ovo vegetarians are those who are mainly vegetarians but also consume dairy and its products as well as eggs. Ovo vegetarians eat eggs, but do not consume any dairy or its products. Lacto vegetarians do not eat eggs but consume dairy and dairy products such as cheese. Pescatarians are mostly vegetarians but will eat fish once in a while. Pollotarians are also vegetarians who do not eat any other meats other than chicken and turkey. Fruitarians only consume fruits, nuts and seeds and will not eat vegetables nor flesh foods. A famous fruitarian was Steve Jobs. People who choose this dietary arrangement do it for a season, maybe to overcome an illness or lose weight. There are some, however, who have made it their way of life. This is not a very sound choice to live on fruits alone.
There are those who follow the vegetarian diet choice but will sometimes eat flesh, and at some point they switch back and forth. These are known as Flexitarians. The category that has raised the most eyebrows out of all the dietary choices is the Breatharians lot. These believe that one can actually live without food. Starving is not exactly a healthy food (or the lack of it) path. Choosing to starve so as to live is what I would call an oxymoron. This extreme path should be avoided. Raw Foodist is another food path that is garnering lots of momentum. Their food is solely from plant sources. It is sprouted, or dehydrated and it’s all consumed in its raw state. Our screens have had images of fine looking specimens of individuals who have taken up raw food and juicing paths. These have evinced the truth that aging does not have to be cruel it can be done graciously. The last class of food paths is what the larger population ascribes to and that is the Non-vegetarian group. These eat all that can be called food. So long as it tastes good and is not poisonous.
So what should I be? With the glaring truth on the connection between what I eat and how my body responds to my choices, it is evident that we must rethink our food choices. While heredity may load the gun to some of these lifestyle diseases, lifestyle (our food choices playing a big role) is what pulls the trigger. Educate yourself and allow food to be your medicine and your medicine your food.
Taste is absolutely important and is what gives us the joy of eating but educating oneself to eat with the mind will have far more benefits than eating for pleasure. Understanding what proper and adequate nutrition is and that it requires ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and food energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats constitutes eating with the mind and is a safe rule to live by.
Keep in mind that dietary habits and choices play a significant role in the quality of life, health and longevity. Redefine food culture for the next generations.
What should I be? I should be educated as to what dietary choices best meet my body’s nutritional needs, avoiding extremes of any kind.
I should be educated.