It seems to me that there is a new type of food dogma happening in the realm of what we eat.
What we should, and should not eat is becoming the new religion.
But hey! How did this happen?
Food Dogma and Babies
Let’s take a newborn baby. In an ideal world, breastfeeding is best. And these days, that is where it starts. The mother has a decision to make in the modern age, whether to breastfeed or not. There can be many reasons why not, physically, and mentally, and yet, straight away she is made to feel guilty if she can’t or won’t.
This is the first step on the road to food dogma: facing the criticism of those who believe that every baby should be breastfed.
Food Dogma and Toddlers
As the child grows, Mother tries to give it the best foods that she can. From books and magazines, she is told that babies and toddlers need lots of fruit and vegetables. Don’t give them too much sugar, don’t add salt, and on and on. Don’t do this and don’t do that.
If they are lucky, they may have a child who prefers fruit and vegetables to other foods. Yes; it is possible, I have two grandchildren who did that. But the chances are that as they get a little older, they begin to be exposed to sugar and processed foods and even limit what they eat to just one or two main foods. This often means they are living on nothing but chicken nuggets and chips, or cheesy chips.
Again, the Mother is shamed because seemingly her child is not being nourished properly.
We live in a world that is now dominated by the big food consortiums, who infiltrate schools, hospitals, and community centres at large. So when the child begins school they see other children eating the “wrong” foods and start to be fussy about what is in their packed lunch.
Yes, I know, schools these days are trying hard to ban certain foods, and that is a marvelous move on their parts. But then we have the birthday parties and private outings with other children, and away we go.
We could make the child the victim of what we believe they should eat, and put them in embarrassing situations. But is that good for the child? The balance between that embarrassment and the right foods (as far as the parent is concerned) is a very narrow line.
Ok, so now let’s step forward into the future of that child. It may or may not grow up with the right idea of what it should eat. Then, lo and behold, it becomes a teenager. Need I say more?
Adults with Hangups?
As adults we begin to be more independent, travel, leave home, get married and so on. All of these bring about necessary adaptations to what we eat.
Many, myself included, find that they have put on weight at some time.
Let me briefly share my story at this point.
At the age of nineteen, I had already married and left home, having married a sailor. I was two hundred miles away. My parents weren’t even on the phone, let alone the fact that there were no mobile phones. I could only communicate with them by letter.
So two factors led to me quickly putting on weight. Loneliness, with my husband being away at sea, and the fact that I was free from the food restrictions that were in place at home with my parents. So the GP immediately put me on a diet, when he saw me. (In those days, one stone overweight was too much!)
Thus began forty-odd years of yo-yo dieting. Bingeing and fasting alternately. People who binge eat enormous amounts of sugary, processed carbohydrates. And that is what I did. Especially stodgy bread, cakes and mashed potato in vast amounts.
So, I developed an eating disorder, Bulimia. Which then built up a Food Intolerance. I won’t go into more detail, but I became intolerant to Wheat and Dairy products.
The cure for me has been a diet of meat, fish, poultry, some fruit, vegetables, eggs and a little rice or quinoa. I can have quite a variety of enjoyable recipes on the go, and feel well on them. If I slip up, however, and think that I can get away with it, sooner or later I suffer. I put on weight, and have a bloated stomach, nausea and a great deal of discomfort.
On the other hand, there are many who find that they do not want or cannot eat meat. So become Vegetarian or Vegan.
But somehow or other, there is a lot of food dogma coming from people who seem to believe that what they eat, is the only way, whether they are Carnivores, Vegetarians or Vegans.
This dogma comes from many places. Every day there is an item in the media about food that may be contaminated, food that is good or bad for us. Anything to make a good article for the journalist writing it.
Where years ago we had preachers from the pulpit telling us that what they believe is how we should live or think. (Yes there are still many of them around.) They have been replaced by foodies.
More Tolerance Please?
Can we please have some tolerance, kindness and understanding about other people’s predicaments?
What if we stop judging the Obese and blaming them, when it is because of the wrong advice they have had from Dieticians and authorities over the last thirty years, with the “Don’t eat fat, eat carbohydrates” or “Eat less, move more”.
Can we stop judging the Mums and Dads who have to give in and let their child have a snack while they are doing their shopping?
How about we stop claiming that the way we eat is the only way?
Can we stop being dogmatic about any kind of food, and allow people to make up their own minds about what they eat? Which means that they eat what feels right for their body and keeps them fit and healthy. Everyone is different.
I believe and know for sure, that what we do need is better education in what to eat and how to cook nutritious meals. Right from when we start school.
I also believe that the old fashioned saying, “Eat everything in moderation” is a good basis for health.
But what we do not need is this focus on what other people are eating, without knowing why.
There have been many diets over the years, and the creators always claim that their diet is best. High fat/low carb; No mixing carbs and fats; No meat; High Protein; far too many to write about here.
Interestingly; There has never been a study as far as I know of very old people’s diet! So who is to say that it is what they eat that gives them longevity? I have worked at length with Elders, and have seen a vast array of foods that are consumed by them.
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