I have recently become a volunteer at Red Cross here in Cádiz. They have asked me to do a workshop on healthy food, nutrition and prevention of diseasesfor some of the refugees, they are helping. I was kind of amazed when they asked me to do the workshop, because I have never told Red Cross that the subject is something, I have a great passion for. Healthy food and how to stay healthy and heal through food, is something that I really want to work with in the future. I guess that the future has come sooner than I thought it would. This has inspired me to write this blog post about food and health from my perspective.
The reason I find this topic so interesting is that it is actually very simple. If we take good care of ourselves and eat healthy, we can be healthy, feel good, have energy, and prevent a lot of diseases. And far down the road, we can also heal many diseases from healthy behavior and diet. I believe that healthy food is the body’s medicine. In the western world, many of us have the choice to eat healthy. But something that surprises me is that something that is so essential in our daily lives, food, have so little focus in the conventional health system.
A couple of years ago I went to a lecture of the uncrowned juice king of Denmark, Mads Bo. He said something that day, that made an impact on me and it made me reflect. He painted this picture:
“People that are sick, go to the doctor and get medicine for a problem they have in their body. But a lot of times, they don’t get information or advise about how to change the problem, so they don’t have to need the medicine. A problem that might be connected to a lifestyle. It’s like taking a fish out of its aquarium with dirty water, giving it medicine and then putting it back into the dirty water. Without doing anything about the water. Where the dirty water is representing the human body and what we put into it”. I love this picture and it says a lot I think.
So why is there so little focus on the subject food and what it does to the body?
WHERE DOES MY INTEREST IN FOOD COME FROM?
I have not always been so aware about health and healthy food myself. I actually used to make fun about the people who eat ecological. I thought they were overreacting. But I became wiser. My “food awareness journey” started around 2013where I had some minor health issues that made me make some changes in my diet. And it helped a lot (it’s not a secret what, but I will write about it in another blogpost another day). Then slowly, little by little, I have changed more and more things in my diet and researched more and more about food, health and how to heal a natural way. Today my hand eczema, that I have had since 2003, is almost completely gone, only triggered when I am in contact with what gave me the eczema in the first place. I used to use a lot of steroid creams to keep it down, not knowing that I had other options, and that I could actually heal it in a natural way. I also “ate my way out” of my hay fever, that was making my life miserable every spring.
MY FOOD HABITS TODAY
I have always loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Today I only cook green and healthy food, because it makes me happyand because I have realised that I feel better when I don’t eat animal products. My digestion is then better, and my energy level is higher. My diet is though not 100 % green, but 95% because I’m not fanatic, and living in Spain and going out eating is a challenge because it is a meat country. So sometimes I eat a bit of fish or meat, if the menu hasn’t seen sight of the green stuff. I then choose the meat that I know is better for me, fish, chicken or lamb. Beef is hard on my digestion and pork contains a lot of fat and fat is a big burden to my liver and that means a burden to the rest of my body. I can live without pork even though I’m Danish.
VEGETARIAN, VEGAN, OR?
People ask me if I’m vegetarian or vegan. But I don’t see myself 100% in any of those categories. I am not vegetarian because I don’t use milk products from animals (because I can’t tolerate the milk protein) nor do I eat eggs, because my body doesn’t feel like eating it. I would though say that I’m more vegan than vegetarian, but not all vegan food is healthy like tofu and the meat substitutes made of soya. Soya is no longer (but it used to be) a healthy food because today almost all soya is a GMO – Genetically Modified Food (read more about it here ). There is still not a lot of long-term scientific evidence on the effects of GMO on humans, but scientist believe that GMO has a connection toa lot of the diseases we have today, like obesity, diabetes, asthma, fertility problems, food allergies, and also cancer. There is also a believe that it can be connected to ADHD and autism. Research shows that there is a dangerous side effects in the animals that are being fed with soya – GMO food. I therefore try to avoid the things that can burden my body. But again, I’m not fanatic, I still eat popcorn once in a while, when going to the movies, and almost all corn today is also GMO.
I eat as ecological as possible, even though it is more expensive. In Denmark there is no longer a huge difference on most ecological and non-ecological foods, but in Spain it is still “the new girl in town” to eat ecological and therefore also more expensive and less options. The Spanish people are yet not so focused or don’t have the knowledge, I don’t know, on the impact on what they eat and where it comes from. For me it’s an investment in my health to eat ecologicaland to protect my body from the toxins that they spray the non-ecological fruit and vegetables with. There are already a lot of toxins everywhere we go in the world that we can’t escape, at least if we don’t want to live isolated in the nature somewhere. So why not minimize what I can, when I have that choice.
WHAT THE BODY WANTS
I don’t have any particular diet or guru that I follow when it comes to food. There are some people that give me inspiration, but what I follow the most, is what makes good sense to me and especially what my body tells me that it wants, when I go to the supermarket. The body is actually very clever and if we listen carefully to what it is telling us, we can provide it with the vitamins and resources it needs to work and what gives it fuel and energy. Also, so the body can heal itself. We all know what is bad for us (e.g. white sugar, trans fats, processed food, white bread etc.) and we all know that fruits and vegetables contain a lot of good stuff for our bodies. So, when my body tells me it wants chocolate, then I know it’s not my body that tells me that, but the reward center in my brain and my sugar addiction that wants a rush. And sometimes I give into it because I’m not a holy cow that preaches or judge others. I’m a person that knows that I have a sugar addiction that needs to be controlled. But when I do give into it, I make sure to enjoy it and don’t judge myself or feel guilty. It’s a choice.
TUNING IN FOR ANSWERS
Like when I tune into my heart when I need directions or answers in my life, I tune into my body when I go to the supermarketor market to buy food. I ask: “dear body, what do you need? What would you like to eat?”It might sound a bit weird, but that is actually what I do. Not out loud of course, as if I don’t stand out enough not looking Spanish in Spain, but just to myself. And if my body craves watermelon and strawberries, that is what I will buy, and if I feel like having sweet potatoes and peppers, then I will create a dish from that. Every fruit and vegetable contain different vitamins and minerals and have different benefits and if my body craves a particular fruit or vegetable, then it’s because my body is in need of that particular vitamin.How clever is that.
THE INEVITABLE PROTEIN QUESTION
People frequently tell me that I won’t get enough proteins if I don’t eat meat. And that we have always been eating meat, so why don’t I eat it. The simple answer to the last questions is, that I just don’t feel like eating meat anymore. My body doesn’t really want it and I also don’t like the smell of it anymore. I used to eat meat every day until almost three years ago. But without really knowing why, I just stopped cooking it at home, only eating it sometimes when I was out. That also changed and I stopped doing that the last year living in Denmark. Now I eat more meat than before, because I live in Spain, and the green options eating out are few. About the protein part, there are a lot of sources to get protein from when going green and yes, it is enough. Here are some of them.
So, for me, it is not so much different with food, then it is for me listening to my heart and living according to that. Listening to the body is just as important to me. My food philosophy is that I eat what my body is asking me for, what makes me happy and what makes good sense to me. But to be fanatic or restraining myself is only going to backfire. I have learned that.
As for my sugar addiction, I try to find and experiment with healthier solutions. So, my new addiction israw cakes and treats sweetened with dates and other dried fruits. Oh, that is so yummy, and a lot better for my body. I will put up some recipes here soon. Or ice cream based on frozen bananas and all kinds of natural flavors you can imagine. If you ever go to Copenhagen, promise me that you will visit Nice Cream. I have never tasted this rich ice cream in my entire life and the best part is that it is plant based and ecological. A dream come true would be if they opened an ice cream shop in Cádiz…