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Volume 35
Issue 10
 
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The Way of Food: Part 1
The Way of Food: Part 1
by Que Areste, N.D. - SGN Contributing Writer

Why do we eat? Maintaining life and health, social and emotional interaction, and sensory enjoyment are the main reasons we eat. Eating is important to life.

Our bodies have not changed much since we were hunter-gatherers, following our dinners as they migrated, gathering plant foods along the way. The only processing our food got was from cooking.

We are all in a hurry now, so eating easily prepared food has become important to many of us. In processing food so it is easy to prepare, much of the nutrition and taste is processed out. Some nutrients are put back into it in easily handled inexpensive forms. Making these over processed foods palatable is a multimillion dollar industry.

On the whole, less processed food is better for you. The chemicals added to processed foods for taste and long shelf life make them nutrient poor and alien to our bodies. All natural and artificial flavors are either developed in a laboratory or extracted from plants in a laboratory. There is little difference between them.

When you start cooking with whole fresh foods, the meals will taste better and be healthier to eat. The vitamins and flavors in the food have not been removed and replaced with substitutes. Some foods such as fruits can be eaten raw. Foods like vegetables that are eaten for their water soluble vitamins should be cooked minimally as water soluble vitamins are destroyed when cooked at high heat or for a long time. Foods eaten for their fat soluble vitamins, like carrots and squash, should be cooked longer to break down the cell walls so the vitamins are available to your body. Fat soluble nutrients should be eaten with oils. Use a little olive oil or butter in the meal so they can be absorbed.

Vitamin C, its related flavinoids, and some B vitamins are the chief water soluble vitamins. Foods with Vitamin C and flavinoids include fruits and vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes. Fat soluble vitamins include Vitamin A, its related caratinoids, vitamins D, E, F and K. Foods containing fat soluble vitamins include yellow vegetables, green leafy vegetables, nuts and fish.

Eating a healthier diet does not mean your food has to taste bad or take all day slaving over a hot stove to prepare. Frozen vegetables compare favorably to fresh foods stored for long periods of time or transported over long distances, and they're already cut up; they just need to be heated up and combined with pasta, meat, grains and beans, etc. Herbs and spices are potent natural flavor enhancers. Add one or two to your food to turn a bland meal into a feast.

The first step to eating well is to eat less processed food. Eat more fruit and vegetables and fewer empty snacks. When you buy food, read the ingredient list. Does it have food or food substitutes? Shop more in the produce department and less in the cracker/cookie and chip departments. Start making the change now, your body will thank you for it.

Areste is a naturopathic doctor with a private practice on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
 

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