Twenty-one meals

When will children be considered worthy of a meal that doesn't involve anything that's been deep-fried?

Omg! Is it really true? The majority of us don't make all or most of our weekly meals? Is cooking our own food really a dying art? Nutrition Australia certainly thinks so, and they're throwing down the gauntlet by challenging us to prepare all of our meals for seven days. That's just 21 meals. Not a lot, really.

I just can't relate to this. I grow my own vegetables, pick my own fruit and make meals from scratch. Minimal "artificial numbers" enter the bodies of my household. But apparently my family is in the minority and, in the lead-up to National Nutrition Week, Nutrition Australia has published some fairly sobering facts to back this up.

Just when I thought society was on the "grow and make your own" bandwagon I find that only half of us eat enough fruit, a mere 10% consume enough vegetables and about a third of what we eat is made up of discretionary (processed) foods such as biscuits, chips, pastries and alcohol. Perhaps a mass enrolment in TAFE's Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Nutrition and Dietetics) is called for.

I need a lie down just thinking about all of those bodies walking around fueled by… well, what exactly? If they're consuming at least 30% processed food, little fruit and no vegetables these people are literally filled with rubbish. They're playing Russian roulette with their health. Even for people who are naturally slim, their general health would still be suffering. They'd be more prone to diseases such as type 2 Diabetes, tooth decay, mood swings and other behavioural issues.

[quote]Poor nutrition can affect behaviours in children and is often easily rectified by feeding the child whole healthy foods.[/quote]

This is really the starting point to get us on the road to good health. Children must be exposed to healthy foods, and if this isn't happening at home we must ensure that there are trained staff in the childcare industry to provide nutritious meals. It's comforting when your child comes home from daycare and espouses little lessons such as "eating oranges stops my nose from running". And when will children be considered worthy of a meal that doesn't involve anything that's been deep-fried? How do we expect children to develop a discerning pallet and crave healthy and interesting food if we're happy to sit down and shovel this rubbish into their little furnaces?

While we have a huge appetite for anything the weight loss industry has to offer, we've somehow still become slaves to the artificial, over-processed food options. When is it ever healthier to eat yoghurt that contains pretend sugar, no fat and fruit essence? Sure, it may contain less calories, but there's almost no nutritional value. This begs the question - why eat it at all? We fool ourselves that this is healthier and rationalise it by saying we'll lose weight. But the reality is that we'd be better off eating natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and honey. No processed sugars, and all of the benefits of whole foods. I challenge you to try that next time you head for the tacky yoghurt tub with a list of numbers, thickeners and fake sweeteners.

[quote]People are not only eating too much, but eating the wrong foods.[/quote]

The age of the supermarket has done nothing more than to enable society's appetite for over-consumption by providing a colourful plethora of mostly poor food choices.

Nutrition Australia's challenge may enlighten you for a week, but why stop at that? Why not make the full conversion and make nutrition your new religion? Treat your body like a temple. If the food isn't "holy" wholesome, don't let it in.