Healing the World with Our Eating Habits
What is the meaning of eating habits? The term “eating habits”, or sometimes referred to as “food habits”, refers to why and how people eat and what food they eat. The term also covers the ways people obtain, store, use and discard food, even encompassing whom people eat with. These vary from individual to individual due to the personal, social, cultural, religious, economic, environmental and political factors that influence one’s eating habits.
What’s your flavour?
There are innumerable flavours and food combinations. Some persons only eat specific foods and flavour combinations, while others like trying different foods and flavours. A liking for certain flavours or food combinations is usually the norm but the others must be developed or learned. Sweetness is a universally acceptable flavour but a penchant for salty, sour and bitter tastes must be acquired. Then there is also umami, the fifth basic taste introduced by the Japanese and defined as a “pleasant savoury taste”. The more a person is exposed to a food and encouraged to eat it, the greater the chances that the food will be accepted. As the exposure to a food increases, the person becomes more familiar and less fearful of the food, and acceptance may develop.
How are your tastes influenced?
When it comes to social influences on food choices, a person’s belonging to a particular peer, work or community group may impact his food behaviours. For example, a basketball fan may eat hot dogs, fries, burgers and sodas when watching a game with friends but might switch to salad with healthy dressings and fruits when dining with family or spouse. This is indeed true, as revealed by Nickie Charles and Marion Kerr in their book Women, Food and Families. In their study on married or cohabiting women, the authors found that the women do not always eat what they want but instead, prepared and ate food that their spouses preferred.
It isn’t just the spouse or anyone else that influences our eating habits. The environment plays a part too. Food that are easily grown within a region often become part of the local cuisine. However, the western influence of fast food has become quite a regular in our daily diet, hence the increase in obesity at an early age. Other factors that contribute to eating unhealthily in our society include easy access to instant food that are high in preservatives and additives, boosted by the affordability of such food for most income groups.
As we strive to become a healthy nation, Japan has never ceased to amaze the health experts and health enthusiasts all over the world with its fresh, clean and traditional foods that are mostly low in or even free from preservatives, cholesterol, fat and any other kinds of evil found in food these days. The fact that Japanese eating is healthy is interesting considering the fact that they are known for being workaholics, have fast-paced lives and possess the technology to produce any sort of processed food.
However, Japan is also not immune to the invasion of the ‘evil food’ that has been plaguing the world for decades. Some 25% of Japanese aged 15 and above are now considered overweight, a statistic that is worrying health officials even if it compares very favourably with the 65% in the United States where eating disorders bring untold misery to millions and threaten to bankrupt healthcare systems. Why is this happening at such a rapid pace? Perhaps we should all take a back seat and understand that overeating might not stem entirely from the food we take but rather, our unhealthy needs toward food.Repairing the habit
What is the solution to this? Simple: Eat less. Eating less doesn’t just reduce the risks of getting a health problem related to food or overeating but it reduces unnecessary expenditure too. Tackling our food issues requires an acknowledgement that a problem exists, a willingness to change, a deep understanding and an open mind. It is only upon the attainment of these that a step-by-step reconnection to health can begin.
Step #1: Analyze what you are eating
Write down what you have for meals for seven days and analyze them at the end of the week. Look through for the items that you could have done without and make a mental note to eliminate or at least cut down on these.
Step #2: Start small
Making big changes to your diet is only going to turn you against it faster. You will become more resentful due to the unfamiliarity with it and there is a higher possibility that the plan will fail altogether. If you plan to consume more vegetables, slowly increase the servings instead of forcing yourself to have a salad for lunch everyday.
Step #3: Scan the labels
Ingredients you should have more of in your food are iron, fibre, calcium and vitamins A and C, while saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium should be kept as low as possible. Also, it is best to stay with the “fat-free”, “low-fat”, “light” or “reduced” versions.
Step #4: Reduce portion sizes
There is no need to eat that much until you feel stuffed to your eat. Eating is done to keep the stomach feeling full enough so that it doesn’t growl. Have several small meals throughout the day or share dessert or even lunch with a friend. Put smaller servings each time on your plate so that you won’t have the tendency to finish everything just because it is there.
Step #5: Eat the ‘good’ fat
Saturated, trans fat and cholesterol are all ‘bad’ fat that increases cholesterol and the risks of heart diseases. Go for the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that come from fish, soybeans, nuts and corn and olive oils, and reduce your intake of egg yolks, meat and poultry, dairy products and food processed in vegetable oil.
Step #6: Up the potassium, drop the sodium
Salt has been long linked to hypertension which leads to kidney diseases, stroke and cardio ailments. Dietary guidelines suggest only one teaspoon of salt daily but it is quite right to say that most of us take in more than that each day. A box of fries alone contains a generous sprinkling of salt. Gradually substitute salt in cooking with spices, herbs, vinegar and salt-free seasoning; food might taste different or bland at first but your taste buds will gradually adapt.
Step #7: Switch to grains and make them whole
If you are still eating white bread, switch to wholemeal or those containing wheat germ. All major brands in the market, Gardenia, Massimo and High 5, have wholemeal options as well as many other grainy varieties with even sunflower seeds added for bread lovers to choose from. These alternatives are healthier as the wheat flour is not bleached white and thus retains more nutrients and fibre. Next, make a move to other whole grains which include brown rice, whole wheat, whole oats and oatmeal. Everyone’s favourite whole grain would probably be popcorn.
Making the change to healthy eating is undoubtedly not an easy task. Habits die hard and sinful food tantalises. Some who are really unable to go through the process alone have obtained the support of a good healer like the practitioners of Brennan Healing Science who are skilled in removing energy blocks and damage to the hara line which strengthens our desire for change. That might sound like a little extreme to many but as long as one is driven by a strong desire to change and improve their health, it is possible to introduce the above steps gradually into their lives.