There are two books I’ve been reading, both of which are forcing me to look at my diet, and that of my family in a whole new way and both of which were introduced to me by the excellent podcast Latest in Paleo. One of the books is Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, which supports one of the fundamental principles of the Paleo diet, to avoid grains in the diet. It makes sense; our ancestors didn’t farm and therefore didn’t eat the produce of farming. The book says that eating wheat, in any form, makes us fat due to the gluten content. It discusses how our endocrine system is the leader in determining our fat levels, and how what we eat influences hormone response.
The other book I’m reading Wheat Belly supports this notion and focuses on the mutant high yield version of wheat that we consume in such vast quantities, at every mealtime every day.
Wheat Belly’s main message is that wheat is actually bad for you; a poison! While more and more people are diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, the rest of us believe that bread couldn’t possible harm us. Yet today’s “wheat” is not the wheat that our ancestors ate. By messing about with genes we have replaced traditional wheat with a stunted, bulging, super-productive dwarf variety. This triggered a change in the proteins our wheat contains, with the effects being detrimental in many ways to our health. The gluten in wheat can also cause a whole host of health problems and diseases – even in those who don’t show symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
As if that wasn’t enough wheat, with its blood glucose increasing effect, causes blood sugar spikes. Two slices of “healthy” wholewheat bread raise blood sugar farther and faster than two tablespoonfuls of sugar. And is therefore implicated in the pandemic of obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes and is the likely culprit for heart disease, and cancer.
Dr Davis in Wheat Belly presents a very convincing argument that humans are not adapted to eat and digest, wheat and its gluten protein. Given that ‘good old wheat’ is so omnipresent in our society is concerning, and the book’s message is that many health conditions that are prevalent today would probably not even exist if it were not for our high consumption of wheat.
Since they were born I’ve been conscious of the health of my children. I limit their sugar intake; they eat vegetables every day, and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. But as they get older I worry that I’m not doing enough, but then how far do we take it? With such conflicting advice afloat in the media stratosphere, how do we know what is best for our children?
It is our job as parents to instil habits that will serve them well in their lives. I want my children to grow up eating foods that will enable their young bodies grow strong and healthy, so they are not debilitated by health issues and so that they have the energy to find fulfilment in their lives, no matter what that means.
I want my children to be happy and I genuinely believe that happiness starts with healthiness. I didn’t always believe this. In the past when my body worked fairly well regardless of what crap I put into it, I couldn’t give a stuff, I assumed it would always work that way and those people who were turning to healthy eating, obviously didn’t have enough excitement in their lives. Since I hit my forties, things have changed. Every day my body aches a little more, sags a little more and responds more significantly to what I put inside it. I have been gaining weight, although my intake of fattening foods has never really changed, it is just that my body is no longer as amenable as it once was.
I needed to make a change but changes are hard to sustain, as we all know. So it had to be a change that I would incorporate into my life, as a permanent thing, but more than that I wanted it to be something I enjoyed. I didn’t want to count calories and agonise over everything I put into my mouth, I wanted to enjoy eating the foods I love, and as much of it as I wanted, but also to know that what I was eating was having a beneficial effect on my body. Mostly I wanted to show my boys that eating healthily is not a prison sentence, that just because it can be a challenge sometimes when you’re caught out with no real food and only McDonalds for as far as the eye can see, that it doesn’t mean that all the enjoyment has gone from life. I want them to see that I enjoy the food I eat, not that I yearn to eat food that, according to my diet, I cannot have. This above all else is not sustainable. Because there will come a time when my resolve will weaken and this form of denial eating will get the better of me and I will end up gorging on all the crap that I’ve been denying myself for weeks. These kinds of diets don’t work; regardless of the steely resolve we have initially to make it so.
I want to show my children that I care about what goes in my mouth but I also want them to see that I take pleasure in the food that I eat, that healthy is not boring, plain, tasteless, so that they can take my example into their adult lives and live in their bodies as they were meant to.