Thursday, March 12, 2015
“Low-fat,” “Gluten-free,” “Reduced sodium” – labels, advertisements and recipes that are plaguing our supermarkets, TV and internet. I remember walking through my local supermarket feeling unbelievably overwhelmed. I remember growing up eating a “balanced” meal with meat, rice and vegetables. As a student, I was taught about the Canadian food guide standards and how many servings of each category we were supposed to have. Things felt simpler back then. Fast forward 20 years and I’m confused about every product I pick up. I have spoken to many people about following food trends. Whether it’s going Paleo or Gluten-Free, I believe it’s important to discuss these things with your doctor or a nutritionist. I also think it’s a responsibility of companies marketing any product with a mindfulness that we are susceptible to falling into “food traps.” That doesn’t take away the responsibility of ourselves to educate about our body and what we need in order to flourish. We want the onus to be on us to not fall for these “food traps” just because “that’s what everybody else is doing.”
I find it frustrating that food has become more complicated because for some, food is already complicated enough. For those individuals going through disordered eating, these labels reinforce a need to stay or be a certain way. It no longer promotes a healthy view on food but instead it has a mindset that if you don’t do things in a certain way, you are more likely to be unhealthy, have health issues, gain weight, etc. I recently watched a documentary, The War on Wheat, on CBC’s “The Fifth Estate”. The documentary is based on the book, Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis. The documentary looked into claims Dr. Davis was making about wheat. He believed that wheat is causing an array of illness, body malfunction and mental health concerns; however, these claims have not undergone any research studies. Dr. Davis’s book is a best seller with millions of people following his teachings (The Fifth Estate, CBC News). It truly makes one wonder how powerful these forms of labels and advertisements have on people.
Next time you go into your supermarket, watch TV or surf the internet – take a second and listen to what your body needs and wants and follow that. The unfortunate reality is that we will be bombarded by flashy slogans and trendy words. Do your research, talk to your doctor and/ or nutritionist and get back to enjoying food the way you want. Let us organize this chaos together.
Nafiza is a Clinical Counsellor with Fraserside Community Services Society. Her passion is to promote healthy eating and activities in youth and adults, to live life appreciating the body she has today and to work on optimizing the opportunities she has around her.