06 Oct Making a Manifesto | Nutrition Tip 2
2. Eat Thy Veggies, for amid the noise, the statistics, and the latest research, know this to be the central, immovable tenet to optimum nutrition.
Prescriptive nutritional advice hardly ever applies. You’re an athlete? Eat more protein. You’re a diabetic? Cut your carbs. You’re recovering from cancer? Eat more fat. There are instances when each of these recommendations applies, and there are instances when they don’t. The more I research within nutritional science, the more adamant I am that I become less adamant; there is no one size fits all. One way of eating works well for one condition, but not for another. One way of eating might be good for the health of the environment, but not for the health of your body. The opposite is also true, which is another tenet I talk about elsewhere; one way of eating may make you feel super, but at a great cost to the environment (air miles and high carbon footprint). Something that reduces your body fat might also increase your heart rate and leave you feeling agitated all the time. Removing foods that bloat you may remove your only source of certain nutrients, causing deficiency. Improving muscle gainz may result in sluggish intestines. That’s why prescriptive nutritional advice hardly ever works. As an individual, we need attention and experimentation to find out what works best for us, because it might not be what you assume.
However, in most conditions that utilise diet and lifestyle management to modulate disease state, eating a range of veggies on a daily basis has consistently been shown to be beneficial. This is due to the inherent make up of vegetables as they contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
I love the Happy Pear. I worked with them for two years as their Happy Heart Nutritionist, and it really was the best fun being onsite with them at their cafe in Greystones, or watching them brew a stew in the Cooks Academy while nattering away with the crowd, and talking over the top of one another as is their signature style. The Happy Pear twins follow a Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPBD), which means they eat an abundance of veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds, and refrain in as much as possible from refined oils and sugars. And animal products. No meat, eggs, dairy. They gravitated towards this way of eating years ago, and now they offer outreach to educate people about the power of plants. Their message isn’t really one of Veganism. They are technically Vegan, but seldom outright identify as such. We’ve had discussions (warmly, but a little heated at times) and we don’t see eye to eye on everything. But the reason I gravitate towards them so much is that, for all their own philosophical and ethical beliefs and their personal nutritional choices, their bottom line, the hashtag they use on social media and the only line that appears on their banner at stands and demos up and down the country, is: Eat More Veg.
It’s not about converting to one rigid philosophy and sticking to it at all costs. I say this very pointedly, because I was a Vegan for 5 years, and it was incredibly important to my identity and my health at a particular time in my life. It was part of me, and it is for a lot of people. Same with Paleo. People who have reversed disease and improved their health will self-identify with the diet because it has become essential to a life lived well. You cannot argue with that, and you cannot take that from someone. I make a point now to try and navigate through the world without the need to apply labels to things. (I’m predominantly plant-powered, but don’t ask me to what extent, because it changes from day to day). My need to categorise things and box them off as ‘that is that’ is slowly down-regulating with age and with increased knowledge. None of us has it figured out. My way may not be your way and vice versa. But being open is the best thing we can do. When you’re closed, and clinging at all costs, no-one benefits. Stagnation sets in.
Eat Your Veggies, because they offer us a source of high quality nutrition (fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) while simultaneously being low in anti-nutrition (excess calories, trans/saturated fat, excess sodium). Whatever label you apply to your eating patterns, make sure your plate is, at all times, dominated by veggies.
Eat your veggies, for amid all the crap that you read online, among all the arguments you’ll have with people about whether saturated fat is worse than sugar and vice versa, the humble vegetable spectrum is the heavy-hitter when it comes to nutrition and should be the priority on your plate. Eat your veggies, because the longest-lived, healthiest populations do. Eat your veggies, because eating is a simple concept and one that is consistently overcomplicated as nutrition science explores new territories and the researchers release new findings. Eat your veggies, because your granny told you to. It was, and continues to be, the central, immovable tenet to optimum nutrition.