I have pretty good self control around everything but food.
I won’t spend money on new shoes, until Beau finally picks me up from work and takes me to the shoe shop to replace the growing embarrassment that is covering my feet.
But when it comes to food, look out. Given the opportunity, I’ll eat and drink more than two rugby players combined.
Consequently, I find I have to run twice a day, and walk at least another 5 – 10 km to keep my weight below that of a YouTube ‘Fat people having funny accidents‘ video contestant.
In winter this is more difficult. While rain doesn’t really bother me, it’s still a convenient excuse to not go out, and instead devour another dinner roll.
So it’s this time of the year, with spring well on the way, that I start reaffirming my lifestyle habits that have lapsed over the hibernation season.
So, here it is, Michelle’s lifestyle diet.
In the words of Michael Pollan “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants“.
Most meats are environmentally unsustainable to produce, laden with any number of bad fats, antibiotics and hormones, as well as often produced in a cruel environment. (But that’s another post). Meat does however provide us with iron, protein, B12, and Omega 3 (in the case of fish), but these can be obtained from lentils, chickpeas, marmite, and flax(lin)seed respectively.
Furthermore, stay away from the processed stuff. The most nutritional value can be obtained from fruit and vegetables in their raw form. Once they are mashed and blended with salts, fats, shrimp sauce, and any number of preservatives, emulsifiers and flavours, their nutritional value is offset by the amount of additional artery clogging and brain retarding ingredients.
Another factor to consider is the environmental impact of producing the food, and the food miles associated with it. Buying out of season beans imported from California, instead of waiting until summer, or purchasing a bunch of basil grown in England, and tied together with chives from Chile, uses significantly more calories of oil to reach an Auckland supermarket, than locally grown garden vegetables (which probably taste better too).
So, keeping these issues in mind, I have established a point-based diet.
Every piece of food consumed is given two scores, in the range of 1 – 5.
1). Degrees of Separation
This is the number of steps the food is removed from the ground it came from. A potato grown in the back-yard would be a ‘1’, a potato from the local vege shop, a 2, while a potato from Norway would be a 5.
1 = Home grown
2 = Locally produced
3 = Intercity
4 = Australasia/Cook Islands
5 = Anywhere else
2). Orders of Processing
These are the number of steps required to reduce the food into raw ingredients. A pre-packaged pizza would have a higher order of processing, than pre-made bread, which would have more orders of processing than dried apricots. (Home-produced processing is exempt.)
1 = None, i.e. fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, herbs, etc.
2 = Basic refining. For example, flour, sugar, olive oil
3 = Mixing various 1s and 2s. For example bread, organic peanut butter.
4 = Core ingredients themselves can be broken down, into 3s, before further reduced into 1s and 2s. For example toffee pops (core ingredients are chocolate, caramel, biscuit base).
5 = Complex crap that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. For example, chocolate chip pancake sausage on a stick.
Both scores are then multiplied together. A good meal should have total score less than 10.
For example, if my dinner consists of:
- Rice with satay vegetables
- Banana walnut muffins
Then, we can analyze the core ingredients as follows:
|Food||Degrees of separation||Order of processing||Total|
|Home-made sweet chilli sauce||3||2||6|
|Banana Walnut Muffins|
- If produce is organic, subtract 1 from score
- If it’s produced from unsustainable breed stocks, or is unhappy meat, add 1
- Encourages eating locally grown fresh produce, reducing the amount of ‘food miles’, and benefiting the local economy.
- Keeps away the heavily processed, high fat and salt foods
- Helps maintain a more balanced healthy diet.