Something has changed about the way we think about food. Actually, everything has changed. Only a few generations ago, we ate what we harvested or butchered. These days, we consume what somebody else engineered for us in a lab and processed in a factory. We no longer eat nutrients, we eat chemicals. We don't focus on vitamins and minerals, we count calories. We ingest products that are so far away from a natural form of food that our great-grandmother would not recognize them. Farms were replaced by factories, real food was replaced with colorful boxes with health claims on them. Fast food restaurants are taking over homemade family dinners. Kids carry candy bars instead of apples in their lunch boxes. Obesity rates are getting higher and higher, degenerative diseases and diseases of affluence are skyrocketing. The internet is full of gimmicky diet approaches and programs that promise amazing results for everybody with minimal effort for just 99 dollars a month.
Back in the day, before supermarkets were present in every city and the majority of foods didn't come in colorful boxes, people were used to growing their own gardens, cooking from scratch, and eating at home. Mothers lovingly prepared dinner every day, the whole family sat down to enjoy a nice time together over a homemade meal, made with real ingredients, and maybe a homemade dessert after the main dish. With the boom of processed and manufactured food, things changed drastically.
People got busier, investing their energy elsewhere, becoming more money oriented, women wanted to combine both motherhood and careers (not that theres anything wrong with that approach), kids started spending hours playing videogames and watching cartoons on TV instead of spending time in sport or play. Fast food became a standard lunch for many people, soda replaced milk in lunch boxes for kids, granola bars replaced fruit in backpacks, frozen apple pies won over the homemade ones, and suppers made of real ingredients were swept off the table by instant just-add-water packaged food. Crisco kicked out butter from our fridge, and even local pesticide free tomatoes are discriminated in favour of those big, bright red, gas finished ones from hundreds of miles away.
People seem not to have time for meal preparation, or they simply fell for the convenience of processed, ready to eat products that allow them to dedicate more time to their hobbies or jobs. Who can blame them?! We all want to enjoy our lives as much as we can and nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen (unless you are a chef or really love cooking). In the modern world, we get distracted by so many things TV, mass media, social media, and the drive to acquire possessions. We can spend hours in a coffee shop sipping expensive beverages, we can go clubbing and spend an unreasonable amount of money in one night, we waste hundreds on designer clothes, and hi-tech gadgets that do not have any positive impact on our well being. We like to feel comfort and often we mistake physical well being and success with possessing things.
We often start taking care of our health when we realize we don't really feel well. Then we go to the doctor and demand help. We accept a prescription, go home, take our pills, and once we start feeling good again, we resume the repetition of the same lifestyle mistakes that got us there. This inevitably leads to a vicious cycle of feeling sick and miserable all the time, never really finding the answers for our issues, masking the symptoms but never really getting to the cause of our problems. Were just playing whack-a-mole with symptoms. Getting really healthy, with happiness being a welcomed side effect, is a question of a radical lifestyle change for many. Those changes are often hard, because we've gotten so comfortable with all the shortcuts we have in todays world, including all those instant, reheatable, packaged meals.
Our bodies have no idea how to process unfamiliar compounds. Just as a gasoline engine doesn't work with diesel, the human body needs the right fuel to run properly. Our imaginary gas station is not a factory though, it is a farm. But things are not that simple. Of course getting rid of chemically laden, processed, refined food-like substances makes a huge difference in our health and the presence of whole, real, fresh foods is important for your physical and mental well being. But it still isn't one-size-fits-all; the meal plan well suited to a Norwegian fisherman, just isn't right for a Sub-Saharan African, even though both report excellent health and performance.
There is no universal diet that is perfect for everyone. But just like every plant has different water and sunlight needs, you have to consider your own genetic make-up based on your heritage when looking for the path to peak health. Some may thrive on a plant based diet, while some need a lot of animal protein. But no two bodies in the world are the same, everybody is unique and special. To understand your own personal nutritional needs, you have to know where you come from first. Your heritage is like a central puzzle piece around which you can start building the big picture.
This is where a method called Metabolic Typing comes into play. Introduced in 1960s by William Donald Kelley, Metabolic Typing takes our hereditary characteristics and the geographic origin of our ancestors into consideration. Different metabolic types have different nutritional needs. To quote Martin, you cannot eat like an Italian farmer, unless you ARE an Italian farmer. The way our bodies respond to certain foods is an expression of our own metabolic bioindividuality. Of course for some of us today it might be hard to find out where we come from and what our great-great-grandmothers ate. For that reason it is important to figure out your own metabolic type so you can stop the guessing game you might have been playing (and losing) for years, and really start winning your health back, to actually live the life your body is capable of living.
Metabolic typing explains the differing effects of the same food on different people and supports the point that not all bodies work exactly the same. Getting to know more about your personal nutritional needs, addressing your metabolic and mental issues, or even helping your kids to stop having tantrums after eating their snack is in your hands. After you discover the type of fuel your body will run best on, its time to implement the changes that will allow you and your family to feel your best as often as possible. Many people have the greatest success if they are able to set aside some time in their week specifically for meal planning and food preparation, which prevents poor decision making when you are tired and hungry at the end of a long day. Follow the #eatrealfood hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram for great recipes and health tips, and explore these links to learn more and discover your metabolic type:
What is Metabolic Typing?
Metabolic Typing podcasts (also available on iTunes, links included) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Advanced Metabolic Typing Test