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Food, glorious food! We are totally surrounded by food. Switch on the tv and there’s a constant stream of food advertising and reality shows centred around food. Check out your social media feed and you’ll stumble upon even more foodie posts.

 

There’s just so much information out there about the ‘best’ thing to eat. I wonder, when did we lose our food culture and the ability to understand how to nourish our bodies and keep ourselves and our families well?

 

I think there’s a lot to be learned about food and health by looking to countries that have a strong food culture. With so many diets and information about the best foods to eat, perhaps we’d best pay more attention to the way these healthy and long-living communities eat.

 

There are vast differences when you compare traditional ‘healthy’ diets from around the world. The Japanese fare well on a diet of rice, soy, seafood and seaweed (sans wheat and dairy). The Mediterranean countries thrive on a diet of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, cheese, bread and olive oil. Then there’s the French paradox which really has nutrition ‘experts’ scratching their heads. Despite the rich foods they eat (lots of butter, dairy, bread), the French have some of the lowest obesity rates in the developed world.

 

So what do the diets of people living in the healthiest, longest-living countries and communities have in common?

 

VEGETABLES
They eat lots of seasonal vegetables. We know vegetables are good for us. We need to eat more.

 

THEY PRACTICE PORTION CONTROL
This is definitely one of the reasons the French are able to maintain a healthy waistline. They don’t snack and they don’t overeat the way most Western cultures do. They eat three solid meals a day, kids included.

 

THEY EAT SEASONALLY AND LOCALLY
This is a given in the many longest living and remote communities but even the French and many other industrialised ‘healthy’ countries shop only at their local market or fresh produce store. Such a simple way to ensure good health. Choose local. Choose seasonal.

 

NO PROCESSED CRAP
They don’t eat highly processed ‘sterile’ foods. It is fascinating that when a culture ventures away from their roots and replaces an unprocessed diet with processed, how their health and longevity declines. There are many, many historical examples of this.

 

SHARE THE PURE PLEASURE
Most healthy eating cultures make meals an event. They stop and share and enjoy food together as a family or community, instead of scoffing a bowl of cereal at the kitchen bench or in front of the telly, and calling it dinner. There have been many studies that have demonstrated the importance of community and relationships on both mental and physical health. Again, so simple!

 

DON’T IGNORE GENES
They eat according to their culture. We are all individual and I cannot stress enough that a one- diet- ts-all approach is not healthy. Remember, most of the popular diets and food fad interests are firmly fixed upon making money so they will always and passionately plug ‘their way’ as the only way. This is simply not the case.

 

LESS MEAT
They don’t eat heaps of meat. Most cultures with good longevity certainly don’t eat meat every day. They do well combining vegetarian sources of protein, but animal sources are often only eaten as part of a celebration or significant event.

 

THEY ARE NEVER ‘ON A DIET’
They don’t deprive themselves or exclude basic food groups. Food restriction and the stress associated with it is a very vicious circle.

 

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT
They move, gently and often – they don’t hit the gym twice a week, instead making movement part of their everyday life.

 

Pretty simple huh? Sadly, since there are no money-making opportunities and no glamour attached to anything this straight forward, you are not likely to hear about basic nutrition from the ‘health’ promoters, whose livelihoods depends on many people following the hype.

 

Visit www.wellnourished.com.au

 

Well Nourished

Well Nourished  

Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au