So many temptations, delights of nature, and related frustrations. There is so much information out there about what is good, what is bad, timing is everything, at what ages we need to be eating more of “X” (or not) … In a world complicated by too much choice, and health matters such as eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia to name a few) and chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity trends, it can all be VERY confusing.
Let’s take one example, coffee, and the related messages we’ve seen:
- “coffee is good for you”
- “coffee is bad for you”(skip those delightful sugar and heavy on the calorie side drinks altogether)
- “depends on the type of coffee” (region, conscious of Green economies, etc.)
- “don’t drink coffee after 8 p.m.” unless you are working the night shift or need a bit of caffeine to get going on your road trip you might be losing on sleep!
At the end of the day (or night) there is a lot to consider. Presentation is everything and we often get lured into the exquisite smells and tastes that often leave us deliriously tempted. So why not give in? In moderation of course.
Coming across a store on Solonos Avenue in Athens called “The Dark Side of Chocolate” it was an unbelievable explosion of flavors and coffees I had never tried before… well yes, you guessed it, easily addicted. We know that chocolate, particularly dark chocolate in the format of 60% or more of cocoa is an excellent source of flavonoids and of course those pleasure-releasing endorphins (as far as I am concerned….)
There are also those fabulous cultural stereotypes that somehow make it into mainstream media, of course some of us have not even thought to try something like “feta and watermelon” advertised as “Yiayia’s way” (the Greek ‘grandma’ is featured in an older village-type dress). This ad promotes two combinations of foods one may find particularly wonderful in the summer months. Epicurious now has fast and easy tips for cooking, how about seasonal eating (love this link “Eat the Seasons“), diet types (Paleo, Atkins, etc.)… so many choices and so little time and much to consider as we are becoming global connoisseurs of food!
Here are some general healthy food related tips picked up over the years:
- Drink anywhere from 6-8 glasses of water daily (preferably filtered to rid yourself of extra toxins like chlorinated water). One cup of green tea and one cup of coffee a day also seem to benefit most adults overall well-being. The quality of that tea or coffee also seem to play a role… shop around and decide.
- Alcohol — best to limit to one glass of wine (or grape juice in low sugar content) a day. Other alcoholic beverages seem to affect our tummies in not so happy ways and many people want to avoid that “beer belly” so go slow…
- Have you had your five-a-day (or 10-a-day) of veggies and fruits today? Servings of vegetables and fruits count as handfuls and are great for your well-functioning system (we all need to ensure that we are ‘pooping’ at least once a day!) though people with chronic ailments like diabetes need to keep in mind the fructose content and compensate with exercise or medication.
- Herbs are the spice of life! Indeed some herbs are a fabulous way to spice up your meals and are great for your health… careful to your developing GI tract issues and especially with little kids (the simpler meals the better and stay away from the extremely spicy stuff their tummies are more sensitive… some cultures start exposure younger than others which seems to be OK overall!).
- Go slow with carbs, especially in mid-life, since those of you who may be less physically active or have some intolerances to things like gluten (believe me not all of you need to go gluten free!) are likelier to gain more of that mid-range belly flab.
- Individual needs — many of you may only need to eat meat 1-2 times a week while others can compensate with equally delicious vegetarian or vegan meals. Read your body’s signals on what you ‘need’ and of course have annual blood check-ups to see what nutrients you may be missing.
- Did I mention chocolate? the darker the better…. and of course for our non-chocolate loving friends there are always other alternatives