Thursday, February 18, 2010

How does your fare. fare?

We are what we eat. It is true and there is no getting away from it. Our cells are renewing themselves at the rate of billions per hour and they can only do that from what we take in as food. Therefore to argue that our bodies are not affected by the quality of that food makes no logical sense to me at all. If you put poor fuel into a highly tuned engine it will run but not as well as it might. So it is with us.

The argument that is trotted out that a ‘calorie is just a calorie’. It is in it’s most simplistic sense for sure. But if you are going to stop there I think you are in danger of totally misleading yourself with such ‘flabby’ thinking.

Our bodies are much more than just energy! Our experience of life is much more than ‘can we stay alive?’ Our experience of life is a very emotional one, it is about how we feel, both physically AND emotionally and one often feeds the other.

This to my mind is where the question of food makes SUCH a difference.

Not all the food we eat is created equal. Some of it should probably never be created at all!

I have been thinking about this a good deal recently and came across a way of thinking that divides up foods in 5 grades A,B,C,D, and F (I know E is missing but F stands for Fail in my book!) What follows is influence by that but adapted to my own requirements.

Grade A: Is food that is consumed as close to how it came out of nature. Take the shell off a Brazil Nut or peel a pineapple and you have grade a food. These are the foods we are most evolved to eat and which often carry the highest nutritional density.

Grade B: Close to nature but undergoing a certain amount of processing, which adds nothing and takes as little as possible away, an example would be whole wheat bread. It has to be milled, it has to have yeast and water added but that is all it needs to make it bread.

Grade C: A process has taken place which alters the food significantly by either the addition of what was not there or the taking away of what was. A good example would be many commercial white breads. The wheat germ has been removed and other ingredients have been added to make it last longer or taste more palateable.

Grade D: Highly processed foods that still bear some relationship to the original but are highly processed with the addition of fats, sugars and other additives with the sole intention of making them ore palatable.

Grade F: Foods that bear no relation to anything found in nature. (Have you ever seen a naturally occurring Quaver?) Many of which have little or no nutritional value or worse still can be harmful.

To illustrate what I mean let us look at the humble apple. As it stands it is Grade A. It comes off the tree you eat it nothing added nothing taken away. Would unsweetened apple sauce be grade A? I would suggest not. For a start the skin has been lost and there are nutrients in the skin, secondly it has been boiled and heat affects the vitamin content. So it is Grade B still good though!

So we sweeten it with sugar it becomes Grade C.

Fruit juice (which means that much of the fibre is taken out is Grade D.

It ends up in one of those nuclear zapped apple pies from MacD’s the ingredients of which most of us have no idea of without searching them out on a website and this has to fall into the Grade F category.

Of course there is no ‘official’ grading of foods. Perhaps there should be but believe me folks it is never going to happen, The big food conglomerates have way too much power to ever allow ‘GRADE F’ to be plastered all over their products!

Here are some examples of what I would regards as Grade A – F

Grade A

Leafy green veg
Root vegetables
Peas, sweet corn and other legumes (fresh or frozen)
Fresh fish
Lean red meat
Fresh Fruits
Unrefined Oats

Grade B

Wholemeal flour (including simple breads)
Canned fruit and veg
Natural Yoghurts
Brown Rice
Cous Cous
Snack bars with 100% natural ingredients
Canned fish
100% whole grain cereals (such as Shredded Wheat)

Grade C

Dry Cured Bacon
White Rice
White flours made into simple additive free white breads
Ready meals and sauces with few or no ‘chemical’ ingredients
Butchers quality sausages
Non Wholegrain cereals

Grade D

All processed food masquerading as ‘real food’ i.e. you would hope to find the main ingredients in nature but by now have been so highly processed and messed about that they would be barely recognisable.

Supermarket bacon
Low quality sausages
Ready meals with a long list of additives
Potato Crisps
Shop bought cakes
Biscuits and cookies
Rice Puddings in a pot
All 'Lite' foods

Grade F

Rubbish. That is food so highly processed it really does not deserve the title food. That has been chemically enhanced to make ingredients that would be unpalateable.

Low value burgers
Packet snacks (Quavers/Monster Munch )
Fizzy drinks
Cheese Straws

I stress this is MY list and not any sort of official classification, nor is it exhaustive you can add or change anything you want..

My suggestion to you is that if you are serious about your well being, use the classification above to look closely at your own food choices and see how they rate. No one is telling you to change them, no one is saying you should do this or do that, you may even want to finesse your own definitions of the various grades.

However I am saying that in my experience the more Grade A and B foods I eat the better I feel. It affects my mood, my self esteem and my ability to exercise. If I feel better I exercise more if I exercise more (up to a point) I feel better. It is a virtuous circle.

I have also not made judgements in terms of fat or calorie content in the grading because that can be taken into account with regard to amount consumed within overall limits. 1 brazil nut is MUCH higher in calories than the equivalent weight in Haribo but I know which is better for my well being!

What amazes me having been a member of and now of a different calorie logging website is just how few people make the connection between high grade food and wellbeing.

Indeed part of the reason I was booted off of WLR was that I dared to say that you would get better results if you were critical of your diet. We have evolved to eat mainly grade A foods (for hundreds of thousands of years that is all hominids ate). It is only in the last 10,000 years that we have started to introduce Grade B and C foods and only really in the last century have we seen the massive increase in Grade D and F foods.

So if you are reading this and are serious about your physical well being I really do suggest you have a look at the quality of the foods you eat, it does make a difference believe me, and I make no apology of being an advocate of high grade foods.

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