A bit of a strange topic today, but something which I am super passionate about. As I near the end of my health sciences degree, I have been looking back on what I’ve learnt over the past few years, both in the classroom and through my own research, and there is so much about health and the current statistics of the world that just blows my mind.
I am not here to preach, let me first say that. I want to just share my views and opinions in the hope that maybe you’ll think ‘maybe I could eat that instead of that’. If just one person goes away from this and drinks more water and eats more veggies that day, then I’ll be happy.
Recently, a young lady named Belle Gibson has been prominent in the Australian News Media. After claiming to have cured herself of brain cancer through food, then yesterday having admitted that she never had cancer in the first place, my concern is that whole foods may be getting a bit of a bad reputation.
You see, while Belle lied and took money from people without giving it to the charities they were intended for, the unfortunate thing is that the message she was spreading was SO important. Belle spoke of how our bodies benefit from certain foods, and how eating the right things can increase our health.
Sure, food might not be able to cure cancer (MIGHT. I’m not ruling it out, it just didn’t in this case), but food can do some amazing things. While Belle’s app and book were based on a lie that is, to put it bluntly, f*cking horrific, they are full of fantastic recipes and knowledge, which is why it is such a shame.
Recently, the Australian government released their new ‘health-star’ rating. The concept is that foods are given ‘stars’ related to their nutritional content, and consumers can compare foods against others in the same category, and make a conscious choice about their health based on these stars.
I have many, many problems with this system. First of all, the only reason I understand how it works is because I researched it out of interest. Foods such as potato chips and lollies have been given 5 star ratings, because they are supposedly “better” for you than their counterparts, but nowhere does it mention this on the packet. The issue here is that people may see a bag of chips with a 5-star rating, immediately think “healthy!” and justify eating it like that.
I’m not opposed to eating chips every now and then. Everything in moderation is an important part of living, but the reality is that we have moved past the point of “moderation”, and a lot of Australians are eating like absolute shit.
Our obesity rates just keep rising, and along with that, so do our rates of non-communicable preventable diseases, such as atherosclerosis, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and certain types of cancers. Heart disease is the biggest killer in Australia, and the terrible thing is that (for most cases) it is completely preventable.
We need to, as a country, as a community, as a family and as an individual, take a look at how we are eating. When was the last time you got your 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit in a day? When was the last time you drank enough water consistently? The things that go into your body have such a huge effect on what happens on the inside.
As I said, I don’t want to preach, but I think we all need a reality check. When did a printed logo on a packet become “healthier” than something that wasn’t made in a factory (apples received a lower star rating than a lot of junk foods)?? When did we become okay with consuming so many ingredients we can’t even pronounce? Why are we so complacent about the poor health of our country?
Today, try and eat some more veggies than you usually would. Tomorrow, add some more fruit too, and the next day, increase your water intake. Your body will thank you, your mental health and capacity will be boosted and you will feel fantastic.