Mixing good food with good health


Never has there been such interest in food. The number of food related magazine titles continues to increase and food lovers scour the pages as they sit in gourmet inner city delis, visualizing their next fabulous Sunday lunch. Celebrity chefs are as recognizable as rock stars in both Australia and internationally, with tickets to their special performances sell outs, at thousands of dollars per high profile, “who’s who of food” table.

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Food preparation is considered an art; and failing to recognize a Picasso and his work by those who claim any form of food knowledge is the equivalent of food fraud. If you fail the test, you are sure never to be acknowledged in your career again.

And then there are the nutritionists; a tertiary educated bunch who are perceived to tell us all what we should and should not be eating; the food Picasso’s worst nightmare. As food stylists and directors dream of combining double thick cream with pork belly for a taste sensation never before experienced, the nutritionists tell the readers at the back of the publication that at least half of Australian adults are overweight or obese, and the double thick cream is not really such a good idea.

Why has this happened? Why is there such a division of “health” and “good” food? Why do the food magazines sit completely separate to the health magazines? Did Aristotle not say, “Let thy food be thy medicine”, not “let thy healthy food taste terrible”?

This apparent division only serves to fuel the perception for the humble foodies in suburbia that food that is considered nutritious for the body, the mind and ultimately the soul, cannot possibly taste good. You can eat your foie gras; but if you have high cholesterol suffer the consequences.

Health professionals who scream out the words, obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, angina, insulin resistance and polycystic ovaries at every opportunity do need to take some responsibility for this view. For some time now, size 4, somewhat pasty looking dietitians lectured the more rounded amongst us about the risks of using butter on our thick white bread, almost forgetting that a jumbo sized bowl of pasta was perhaps not such a good idea either. If you do not simply adore food yourself, how could you possibly advise the average person how they can have their full fat cake and eat it too? Did they forget that low fat cheese, is actually not cheese. That once you remove the fat from it, the resultant plastic like mess, will not only refuse to melt hence failing to be useful in cooking at all, it also means that the consumer is not satiated after eating it and then tends to eats double the quantity of the low fat plastic stuff, which somewhat defeats the purpose.

The truth be known, if we all just simply ate a little less, of whatever it is we choose to eat; be it double thick cream, butter, bread; we would all be a lot better off and as a result, the cholesterol, insulin, glucose and blood pressure levels of thousands of people would all be improved.

Of all the scientific studies available that attempt to determine once and for all the optimal way to eat for health and longevity, the most convincing evidence comes from studies that have found we all simply need to eat less to live longer lives. Studies to date with both rats and primates have concluded that significant dietary restriction improves a number of the metabolic processes that are involved in aging including reducing free radical production (the nasty, cell damaging molecules) whilst improving immune function.

So where does this leave us, the consumer and our food loving Picasso’s? Perhaps it is as simple as promoting such a style of eating in the food print media. Focusing on small fillets of the leanest meat, a slice of pork belly, just a dollop of extra thick cream, or a sprinkle of rich Parmesan and opening telling the reader why. If the nutritionists and the food Picasso’s took a little time to talk, they would both realize they are all working toward a common goal and the public may be left a little less confused as to what constitutes healthy eating. The time to come together is now.

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