While obesity rates are up, awareness around nutrition is too. In answering the BayBuzz ‘How We Eat’ survey, our readers shared their specific dietary habits/ preferences, showing that the majority of respondents make definite nutritional choices about their food – 59.9% follow a low-sugar regime, 28.7% go low-carb and 22.4% focus on low-fat.
We took the nutrition question to the HB District Health Board population health team and to three people whose lives and work revolve around what we’re putting into our bodies. Diane Stride, Ben Warren and Millie Ormond share their take on eating well.
Diane is a private practicing dietitian; an accredited practitioner with the Australian Centre for Eating Disorders; and the founder and facilitator of mind, body and soul awareness courses, which are run in a retreat-like setting in the Tuki Tuki Valley. See www.dietitianconsultant.co.nz for more information.
We live in a time when nutrition information is abundant, and yet people seem to be more confused about what to eat than ever before. The actual definition of nutrition is ‘the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth’ or ‘food or nourishment’. Somehow, though, this message has got mixed up with a lot of rules about what we should eat, shouldn’t eat and good and bad food, which has left people adopting an estranged relationship with food rather than as a source of nourishment, or nurture for their body.
When we start labeling food as good or bad, we are putting a moral judgment on that food. If chocolate is a ‘bad’ food and you were stuck on Mount Everest for three days in a storm, and all you had was chocolate…would it still be a bad food? In this instance, it would be a life-saving food, yet the essence of it hasn’t changed. The reality is that chocolate is a high fat, high carbohydrate, low nutrient food. When it is eaten occasionally in moderation, it is not a problem.
However, when we label it as a bad food, two things tend to happen. Firstly, when we eat it, we end up with feelings of shame, guilt and internalizing that we are now “bad” for having eaten it. Secondly, it becomes very desirable to people who have emotional eating issues – the more they want to avoid it by telling themselves they shouldn’t eat it, the more they want to eat it.
In my practice, I see so many people who are at war with food and their bodies. They have tried every diet they know and just feel that if they could have more control, all would be well. By doing this, food has become a war zone and a set of rules, rather than a focus of nourishment for themselves.
My main aim is for people to learn where food fits into their lives, to understand how their bodies function in relation to hunger, satiety (fullness), nutrient needs and to develop a healthy relationship with food, where food is not the enemy, but is working with them to sustain their health and growth.
We are very fortunate living in Hawke’s Bay, where we have a plentiful supply of beautiful fresh produce. Our animals are grass fed, which means their omega 3: omega 6 fatty acid ratio supports health; we have the full range of fresh vegetables to supply us with the nutrients we need. The only nutrients that may be of concern are selenium and iodine, but these are easily obtained by eating two brazil nuts daily for selenium and iodised salt in small amounts for iodine.
May this year be a time where you embrace your relationship with food in a new way.
Ben is a nutritionist, holistic health expert and founder of BePure, a nutrition and holistic health company based in Havelock North and Auckland, which focuses on providing people with the tools, education, inspiration and support they need to find optimal health and live energetic, happy lives.
Nutrition is all about giving your body everything it needs to work as well as it can. We’re made up of about 75 trillion cells and we’re replacing millions of cells every day – in fact, two million red blood cells every second, and the ability for your body to rebuild those cells in completely dependent on nutrition.
What we need to be eating is nutrientdense foods. These are the foods that provide the most nutrition per calorie. Right now in the western world we are overfed but undernourished. It’s very easy for us to get calories, but much more difficult to get the nutrients – the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants we need.
We recommend eating a wholefoods, nutrient-rich diet that’s right for you. There is a major individual aspect to nutrition in our philosophy, because we know that genetically people are all very different. We’re all on a spectrum and everyone’s body responds differently to different foods, as do everyone’s nervous and immune systems.
Take gluten for instance. You give gluten to some people and their body will have a very severe immune response – a coeliac response; others will have a lesser immune response and then others don’t seem to have a problem with it. So our overriding philosophy is personalised nutrition; how do we give your body everything it needs.
While we focus on the individual needs of people, there are a handful of pointers I can offer for optimal health:
• Start by eating a wholefood, processed- food free, sugar-free diet.
• Make sure your vitamin D levels are high enough – 84% of New Zealanders are deficient in vitamin D. • Get your zinc levels sorted, because zinc controls over 300 enzymes – you could have virtually anything wrong with you if you’re zinc deficient.
• If you have anything wrong with you, go gluten-free. It’s not a problem for everyone, but for many, gluten causes a lot of inflammation and inflammation drives a whole raft of problems. The high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat developed in the 1970s, which is now in the bread we all eat has much higher lectin levels than wheat did previously. Lectins are a molecule plants make to stop insects from eating them. So it looks like the lectins make the junctures in our intestines very loose, which then allows half-digested proteins to get into the bloodstream, where they get tagged as an invader, and you get an immune response. The bread we’re eating now is nothing like the bread your grandmother used to eat.
• Make sure you’re drinking enough water.
Millie is a mother of four, lover of food, promoter of family time over the dinner table and founder of Facebook page “Cheap and Healthy Family Dinners NZ” (nearing 8,000 followers).
Feeding our families well does NOT have to cost us an arm and a leg – or 100% of our living wage!
My goal for my family, and yours, is to combine the need for our bodies to be fueled, with a deep love and appreciation of real food, home cooking and eating as a family. I believe this can be done on a budget – BUT you must learn how to cook (it’s not hard), and you must not get sucked into eating processed food. Seriously, processed food is the pits! It’s not just rubbish nutritionally, but it just tastes so bad in comparison to what you can cook for your family with a little time and eff ort, and not much money at all.
The answer is to keep it simple. Salmon with a side of turmeric latte may be all the rage, but if that’s not within your price- range, then please just forget it and move on to something more affordable and just as delish! I advocate meat, veges, eggs, cheese, nuts, fruit, and treats (which should be homemade whenever time allows). Rice and potatoes are not the devils they are made out to be, and for families on a budget are vital. Kumara is also a lovely option for filling tummies.
Planning a menu for the week’s dinners and displaying it for the family to see, helps build a sense of gratitude towards food – and towards the chef(s) of the house – as the family look forward to each meal. Planning will also help you considerably when trying to stick to a budget.
Once you have meals planned, and stuck to your budget, you are ready to cook – most of us have access to the internet, so even if your mum didn’t teach you to cook, or you never took home economics at school, it doesn’t give you the excuse to tap out in the kitchen! There are cooking channels all over the internet that can step-by-step guide you until you have the confi dence to follow a recipe, or make up your own!
Join your kids in in the kitchen; they will love it (ours do) and again it will teach them gratitude for the food they are eating as they will begin to understand the time and love that is put into making a meal for the family.
Food is a central part of most cultures that are not Kiwi – our culture seems to centre more around alcohol, which is not that wise seeing as it’s not great for our health. Why not try and turn our culture around with food? Learning to cook it and share it with love as the central part of spending time together?
We LOVE eating as a family, and with extended family or friends. Sit at the table. Serve the food. Eat together and savour this special time with your kids.
HB District Health Board
The DHB, following a population health approach, focuses on the early stages of life for getting people’s nutritional habits on the right track.
As well as having developed and endorsed the Hawke’s Bay Healthy Weight Strategy, which aligns closely with the Ministry of Health Childhood Obesity Plan launched in October 2015, the DHB has a special infants’ plan which aims to improve the nutrition and decrease obesity amongst children.
The locally-developed Healthy First Foods Programme is a resource for whānau and babies (3-8 months) based on the NZ Food and Nutrition Guidelines providing practical support, knowledge and skills in preparing food and starting solids.
The Healthy First Foods programme consists of:
• Workforce development package delivered to Well Child Tamariki Ora Providers
• Resources to support delivery in the community
• Small group or whānau sessions
The focus is on age and stage appropriate portion sizes, textures, breastfeeding and the ability to recognise the baby’s innate hunger and satiety cues.
The immediate aim is to create fun, tasting, learning and sharing ‘first food experiences’. The Healthy First Foods package consists of sets of bright, visual resources alongside practical elements such as bibs, cooking equipment, ice cube trays to freeze portions, recipes and demonstrations.
In a show of generous local support, the Flaxmere Community Garden, Bostock NZ and Bayleys Produce have donated fresh fruit and vegetables. So the use of local and seasonal produce is encouraged, and easy home preparation is a key focus.
Ever wondered what happened to the healthy food pyramid?
It got replaced by the Healthy Heart, a more up-to-date visual guide for healthy eating, which puts the ‘eat most’ foods at the top rather than the bottom.
The Healthy Heart was released by the New Zealand Heart Foundation in 2013 and apart from the new shape, the main update is the fact that grains have been moved into second place, with vegetables and fruit occupying the entire ‘eat most’ section.