You Are What You Eat

posted on March 9, 2013

In my practice I use a variety of treatment methods, but none as important as diet and nutritional counselling.  I believe that what we consume on a daily basis is more fundamental to health than any other single health regimen.  Cancer and heart disease are Canada’s leading causes of death by far (1) and both are modifiable and preventable by diet and lifestyle.

What I urge to my patients is that we can only be as healthy as what we expose our bodies to.  One of the most influential exposures that we can control is food.  So, not only do I believe that we are what we eat, I try to live my life by it and advocate my patients do so too.

The expression “you are what you eat” was introduced in the early 1800’s.  It does not imply that one day you’ll wake up looking like a piece of fried chicken (then again, you may feel like one); the phrase purports the simple meaning that to be healthy, you have to consume good food (2).  Although this concept is not lost on our generation, the simplicity of it has become…complicated.

With the media constantly preaching words like: “organics”, “super-food”, “natural”, “omega 3s” and “antioxidants” our perception of good food has changed.  Our actions can become so motivated by these words that we forget about the food on the inside of the box.  An organic, omega 3 fortified cookie is still a cookie.

So when you are ready to take on a healthier diet, don’t get caught up in all the buzz, go back to basics. Eat real, wholesome, unprocessed food! If the foods you are buying contain a lot of non-food ingredients, put them back on the shelf.  The best foods for us don’t have a label.  You get the most bang for your buck with foods that contain nutrients naturally and abundantly; and you can find them in your grocery’s produce section.  Put simply, to quote one of my favourite food authors, Michael Pollen, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (3).

If we are what we eat, than I strive to be kale.  What would you like to be?