Eating for Better Mental Health

How we eat often depends a lot on how we were raised, what our cultural background is and a multitude of other factors. If our favorite comfort food was chocolate ice cream our favorite food may still be our favorite comfort food. Each time we eat that comfort food (what ever our favorite comfort food is) we may remember other times we ate it when times were good and worries were few.

There are a lot of studies our about how we should eat. To summarize them:

Eat chicken, don’t eat chicken that is cage grown, eat only eat boneless, skinless breast meat of the chicken. Pork is good for you, pork the other white meat, pigs eat nothing but garbage-that has to go into the meat, pork can’t be good for you. Eat red meat; it’s OK in moderation, don’t eat red meat. Eat raw veggies, raw veggies are too hard to digest so they should be cooked; not overcooked, but cooked.

No wonder we struggle with all the conflicting evidence that is out there.

No longer is there a single food pyramid, but several different food pyramids. If you head over to Web MD, there are links to several (mediterranean, vegetarian, latino, asian, etc).

As you can see, there are many different ways of eating (and many different diets) that are available to us in today’s global world. A hundred years ago (even 50 years ago) most people were only able to eat what was available in season or what one was able to preserve or can. There were fewer foods available that were genetically modified.

There were also fewer foods that were so heavily fertilized, grown under conditions that one can know little about or that each family didn’t grow on their own. When one ate something 100 years ago, the chances were good that unless you were traveling, either you or someone you knew produced or grew the food you ate. In today’s world, this is no longer true.

Other things that can affect how we feel are things like pesticides and fertilizers that are placed on the foods while they are growing. Many people choose organic foods whenever possible.

Another thing that has been happening is the huge amount of sugar and salt being added to foods. One example of this is that some green beans from Aldi’s have sugar added to them.

In many different types of packaging, sugar goes by different names. When this occurs and four or five different types of sugar are used, one may not realize just how much sugar is in the food they eat. If all the types of sugars were added together, then sugar might be the number one ingredient, but since (for example) five types of sugars are used then sugar doesn’t rank as a higher percentage in the list of ingredients.

Sometimes the names for sugar don’t include the word sugar (or syrup) at all. Some say, oh, you just have to look for the ose and it’s sugar but it’s become much more than that.

There’s beet sugar, castor sugar, cane sugar, date sugar, demara sugar, brown sugar, golden sugar, raw sugar, confectioners sugar, icing sugar, powdered sugar, grape sugar, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar, muscovado sugar and just plain sugar, sugar. Should cane juice crystals be put here or with the juices? Is honey a syrup or a sugar?

Then there are all the different syrups; high fructose corn syrup, refiners syrup, malt syrup, molasses, caramel, corn syrup, rice syrup, golden syrup, maple syrup, carob syrup, buttered syrup, and sorgum. And where do corn syrup solids fit into all of that? What is Karo Syrup made of again?

Next are the ose’s. lactose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, galactose, should glucose solids be here or somewhere else?

Then there are fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

Also existing as sugars are; diastatic malt, barley malt, malto-dextran, dextran, sorbitol, maltol, ethyl maltol, panocha, and treacle.

Last but not least in the sugar category there is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which seems to be in many processed foods. While researching high fructose corn syrup, on many pages there were google adwords that would take you to a website that tells one what the producers of high fructose corn syrup want you to think is true about it. HFCS is used in many things because it keeps products soft and protects freshness. People were getting anxious about the HFCS so the farmers asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to be renamed to corn sugar.

Many foods are highly processed to the point that nutrients need to be added back in to try to make the food healthy again.

Throughout the world, scientists, doctors, researchers and others are trying to figure out what is best for us to eat. They then lobby others to eat the way they do, or think they should. Who is right? It is very hard to tell. The Oldways Food Trust Food Pyramids referred to above are a good place to start.

When one looks at the development of the food pyramid and the large changes that have taken place in the last few years, one becomes more aware how complicated it is. Trying to find out what works and what doesn’t work can be frustrating.

Five Small Changes that can be made are to:

Slow down salt intake or use a better grade of salt that is less harmful. Cut down on soda pop products. There are several reasons but one that most people don’t realize is that healthy bodies require oxygen. Every time 12 ounces of soda pop one drinks 25% of any available oxygen in the bloodstream is decreased. It’s the carbonation that does this, not the corn syrup, or the artificial sweeteners or artificial coloring. Slowly cut out the amount of white breads and flours in one’s eating. Go for whole grains for better health and blood sugar control. Notice what foods nourish you and what one’s don’t. Some people tolerate foods better than others. Some people tolerate different foods. This doesn’t have to mean allergies are what one needs to watch for, but whether one feels nourished and alive after eating. Eat whole fruits instead of juices if you can. Whole fruits contain fiber which slows down the amount of sugar one takes in when one eats fruit. Grab an apple instead of apple juice or an apricot instead of apricot nectar. When using canned applesauce, pick one without added sugars or added high-fructose corn syrup.

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