Thursday 16 August 2007

Food - Oh, What To Eat?

Kathy Foley recently highlighted in her blog something that has annoyed me for quite a while, diet research. She focuses more on diet-related cancer research but it still highlights the conflicting results of many groups.

"Welcome to the topsy-turvy, confusing world of diet-related cancer research. Like a carnival hall of mirrors, it’s a disorientating place where everything is distorted and the most insignificant detail can be grotesquely exaggerated.

In recent years, all of the following have been reported as possible preventions or cures for cancer: beans; broccoli; cabbage; cauliflower; cloudy apple juice (rather than the clear stuff); coffee; curry; garlic; kale; onions; pomegranate juice, shallots; soya milk; tea and tofu.

Unfortunately, many more foods have been the subject of contradictory or conflicting advice. Grapefruit has been promoted as having cancer-fighting properties, unless you’re a post-menopausal woman, in which case eating a quarter of a grapefruit every day could increase your chance of breast cancer by 30%. Coffee drinkers are supposed to be at greater risk of bladder cancer and less risk of liver cancer and colon cancer. Barbecued meat might be carcinogenic but not if you marinade it beforehand."

Ok, it's there are more contentious issues in the world today, but how many conflicting results can you get for the benefits, or the toxic effects, of coffee? "Coffee wards off colon cancer", "Coffee may delay effects of Alzhemiers in older women", "Expresso binge lands teenager in hospital", "Coffee's health risk may be gentic" are all headlines which have appeared recently with newspapers and radio shows lapping up these paper/air fillers. My mother seems to tailor her coffee consumption around these never ending developments with the chances of me getting a decent coffee when I call round varying accordingly.

Research into a cure for cancer is vital, yes, but we are living far too long these days not to enjoy something like a cup of coffee every day. Although, children try to pack as many Es (the additive kind) and sugar into their systems they haven't quite attained the knowledge and practice at poisoning their systems as adults. And they still get cancer. Jez, sort the kids out first. A cure for one adult would probably fail miserably in the system of another adult who has happily poisoned themselves over the years.

Luckily, my sisters have a good attitude to eating healthily so I don't have to hear too much about the latest diet fads but I'm still amazed how this industry always seems to come up with some pseudo science and a 'new' solution to being thin (which doesn't mean you're healthy).

Surely, there should be just a few maxims to follow for healthy eating/drinking. I'm no expert but I try to follow these;

· Eat till you feel satisfied, not till the plate/pot is empty.

· Buy fresh and learn to cook.

· If it comes in a box, don't eat it.

· Have last meal at least 4 hours before you go to bed.

· 6 decent meals a day is actually better than 3 big meals.

· Meals should be getting smaller as the day goes on. Reduce meat and white bread after 4 ‘O clockish.

· Eat fruit and vegetables everyday.

· Cooked veg should be crunchy.

· Eat fish at least once a week. Irish are very bad for the fish consumption. Probably something to do with “Catholic fasting = fish” in the past, or else because they smell. (Loving the mackerel at the moment, cheap out as well – marinade 15 mins in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs / grill on foil, 5 mins each side / Bingo!)

· Drink enough water (*warning* unpleasant indicator -urine should be clear).

· 1 * pig-out / session / drug binge = 2 * workout. Like alleviating your carbon footprint, those 8 pints of stout and curry chips mean you have to backtrack on the double.

· When you do inevitably choose to partake in at least one of the above, enjoy your choice. Don’t feel guilty, but don’t do it just for the sake it either i.e. dvd night doesn’t mean you have to drink Miller and order a double cheese pepperoni pizza.

· Drink milk.

· Better moderate the coffee consumption as well, not like this lúdramáin.

Can't think of any more. Anyone else got any healthy eating tips?

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