Wholesome Nutrition - Preface

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” Francois La Rochefoucauld

This book is born out of the desire to educate South African people, in a thorough, meaningful, wholesome and healthful way, about the emotion-producing topics of nutrition and health. For too long now, our food 'education' has come from the multi-billion dollar food giants, political manoeuvring, authors of fad diets and extreme approaches, not to mention a basic lack of understanding of our own body.

If you are looking for yet another diet book to blindly follow in the quest for a lighter you, please put this book down and look elsewhere. If, however, you are looking to gain education about the numerous aspects of your health and how appropriate food choices can interface with and improve your health, please read on.

Wouldn't it be nice to avoid the yo-yo aspects of dieting when in the pursuit of health and weight management? Unfortunately, when a person has followed an extreme dietary approach for a while, a lack of adherence eventually kicks in, which tends to flip them back to the methods of old. In order for an eating pattern to properly work and to be ultimately healthy for an individual, it takes 21 days to create a habit and then it must be sustainable for five years, 10 years, a lifetime. So next time you start something new, ask yourself; "How long can and will I maintain this?”

In South Africa and most westernised countries, we are pretty obsessed by our weight, our body fat and our body shape. This obsession has led to some particularly unhealthy dietary patterns, which we will call 'confused eating' - this is the 'apparently healthy diet', meaning that people are eating what they have been told or have read to be healthy. If, however, we educate ourselves comprehensively on the topic of health, while listening to our body, we stand the best chance of moving towards better health and weight management. With weight in mind, long-term sustainable health provides us with the best opportunity for a long-term healthy relationship with our weight.

In order for us to eat well, we really need to bring awareness of our food consumption to our consciousness; but why should we have to do this? Our ancient ancestors, looking down upon us, would think we were crazy with all these fad diets, convenience foods and confusion over what to eat. For them, it was simple – they just ate what was accessible from the land around them and if they survived, it worked and if they didn't, they wouldn't pass on their genes. They found what their bodies needed to survive, and even thrive, in the vicinity of where they lived. But, sadly for our genes, the pervasive impact of the food industry on our society has meant that we can access any kind of food at any time of the year, whether it was grown in the soil or manufactured in a factory.

Another benefit that our ancestors had was that Google search engines were yet to be born. Their computers were inside their own minds and they were dependent on these internal senses to make decisions. They therefore relied heavily upon the power of intuition – something we all have the capability to do, but mostly choose to ignore because certain sources of information have told us differently.

Despite potentially criticising extreme diets, it is actually important to recognise the contributions that certain dietary revolutions have played in increasing human consciousness around food. All these 'food phases', as they might be called, have something to share and lessons can be learned, but we must add; none of them represent the big picture of health and well-being.

By aiming for simplified dietary approaches, such as low-fat, low-carb or low-GI, we greatly dishonour the complexity of the human body. All of these dietary approaches tell part of a dietary story, but when we understand that human genetics and physiology are vastly more complicated than the most sophisticated computer in modern existence, how can the minimisation of one nutrient-group solve all of our problems? It can't. Conversely, we are heavily reliant on the paralleled complexity of plants and other animals to supply our body with vibrant health and we must look to real food to do this.

In this book, you will find that we share some of the key messages made by the likes of South African authors Prof Tim Noakes (The Real Meal Revolution), Mary-Ann Shearer (Perfect Health the Natural Way) and Peter & Beryn Daniel (Rawlicious). When you compare the messages of these authors, on the surface they represent very disparate approaches, whereas certain core principles are shared by all. But to hear them debate their views, might lead you to think that you must follow either one approach or another; whether that is their intention or not. Dietary authors tend to write books based on what has personally worked for them – but when they map that approach out to everyone who reads their work, it becomes another one-size-fits-all approach: this is something, going forward, that we require greater flexibility around.

Perhaps you may think that it will be best to follow the most convincing scientific argument in terms of which way to eat? However, what you should understand about scientists is that, by default, they have extremely focussed research approaches, which may not represent the diversity needed to move towards the big picture of health. Science starts with an idea and if that idea is believed strongly enough, it's often not difficult to find the science to support it - likewise, it's generally not hard to find the science to refute it either, which is why it's not uncommon to find scientists in heated debates over a particular theory.

What we believe and what we follow here in South African, is often done in extreme measure - part of our South African nature. The 'culture of the Comrades' means that it is very common for us to adopt an all-or-nothing (black or white) approach in all walks of life. As a race, though, South African people are also very intelligent and can also be open minded and fiercely individual, with great entrepreneurial spirit. It is this side of you that we wish to ignite with this educational guide.

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