I was at a meeting last week championing the physical health and wellbeing of people with serious mental illness through their food choices. Trying to highlight that the types and quantities of food we eat has a huge influence on our physical and mental health. Drawing to the attention of those in the meeting that a high percentage of people with serious mental illness die 15 – 20 years younger than the general population, much of which, with better support and lifestyle education, could be avoided.
This made me realise that it looks like a large proportion of the population have forgotten the reason we need to eat food – it’s not just the calorie/energy value content of food and fluid, it contains all of the protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients our body needs to function in a way that optimises health and minimises the risk of ill-health.
There’s decades of evidence supporting us make helpful for health choices providing our bodies with everything it needs to function in a healthful way. A calorie controlled Eatwell Guidance / Mediterranean diet……
I watched with interest a few months ago when the new alcohol guidelines were published and the backlash that came about as a result of it. Accusations of ‘nanny sate’ and the like were brandished. Here’s the thing, at no point did anyone say YOU can no longer drink alcohol, the recommendations said – Here’s the scientific evidence around the risks to your health linked to alcohol consumption – Now, as an informed choice, you decide how much you value your health, the quality of that life long-term and how long you want to be around to spend time with those you care about, then consume alcohol accordingly.
The guidelines will not change the amount of alcohol I consume since I stick within the guideline amounts, so although there is a risk to my health, it's low and one I’m prepared to take. My diet is balanced containing lots of fresh foods containing the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients likely to cancel out the risk the alcohol I drink poses.
So lets give ourselves a break by stop focusing on the number on the scales or in our dress or trouser labels and focus on eating a diet that's filled with the nutritious foods our body and mind need to work well. I'm not saying that body weight and body shape don't matter to health, for many they do. However maybe its possible to alter our body composition by focusing on the quality of our food and fluid by returning to the days when we ate 3 square, home-cooked nutritious meals a day that we looked forward to and enjoyed :-)