Category Archives: Health

Fad Diets – lifestyle choice or money spinner?

Fad Diets | Gather and Graze

There are a plethora of diet options out there when you start to look. Paleo, Macrobiotic, Zone and Raw… are just a handful of the current, trending diets that people seem to be signing up for these days.

They dictate what you can and can’t eat… depending on the whim of the mastermind behind the particular diet. It might be cutting out broad food groups like dairy and grains… or counting calories or grams… or perhaps even stipulating the percentages of carbs, protein and fat… or hey, why not refuse to cook above a certain temperature. Always something a little different to stand out from the rest. Continue reading

Distortions of Care

Do you ever question what lies beneath? Do you dig tunnels, some slightly random, some purposeful in an attempt to unearth what’s hiding below? To find a way past the smoke and mirrors? I spent much of last weekend digging. Well, a combination of recurrent digging and frowning. Most weekends aren’t like that thankfully, but this one was…

I comprehend many of the varied answers to the following, but I’ll pose the questions to you, all the same, as I continue to remain perplexed and frustrated by what I uncover:

  • Why are the food companies who produce the food that is slowly killing us, not held to account in some way?
  • Where have their morals gone?
  • What will it take for the governments of the world to make a stand against them?
  • Obesity has been on the rise for decades, why has more not been done?
  • Why do we find aspartame and various other artificial sweeteners in so much of our food and beverages when there is so much research suggesting that they are not safe?
  • Would a ban on advertising by certain companies and of certain products be of benefit?
  • Would taxing certain products be of benefit?
  • Could the revenue created by taxing those products, be used to bring down the price of REAL food?
  • When will people learn to cook again?
  • Does there really have to be saccharin in toothpaste? Just thought I’d throw that one in there – something I discovered last night when pulling a new tube of toothpaste from it’s box!)

So much comes down to our personal choices in life – what we believe to be important, who we are prepared to support or not support in the food industry, what we can afford and what level of importance we place on our health.  However, I don’t believe that the responsibility should fall completely on the consumer’s shoulders.  Cigarettes were deemed harmful and certain measures (such as education campaigns, removal of advertising, taxes, plain packaging) have been put in place to reduce the number of smokers, thus reducing the number of cancer sufferers in the world.  I don’t see why certain ‘food’ products shouldn’t be considered in a similar way.  Surely it’s worth a try?

My worries also extend to organisations, like Obesity Australia, who should be a beacon of shining light for those seeking advice to turn their lives around. Though, amongst the information I found in their supposedly helpful fact sheets, they appear to be virtually sponsoring the Diet Soda companies of the world – Coke Zero even gets a personal mention/suggestion. Their choice of wording is seriously questionable on a number of topics. I found sections to be confusing, contradictory and not at all encouraging of getting people back into the kitchen cooking with good, simple ingredients. When they did suggest a little cooking, they made it sound so incredibly off-putting that I’m sure it served more to send people running to their nearest fast-food outlet, than to the kitchen to try out their idea.

I quote… “Stews made of gristly meat (neck, oxtail), slow cooked and the fat taken off after a day in the fridge, are a prime protein source.”

Mmm Mmmm, sounds delicious, doesn’t it!? Arghhh – who writes this stuff? and more importantly who edits it and gives it the all clear to be published for public reading? If you get a chance, have a read yourself (through the link above) – in my opinion almost every fact sheet includes eye-brow raising content.

I’m tempted to go back to university to gain qualifications and credibility, to truly help bring about change in the world of food and nutrition. This is despite my strong preference for hiding out in my own kitchen, cooking up a storm for my own family.


World Gone Pear-Shaped?

Image with thanks to 'Uniformed Comment'

Image with thanks to ‘Uniformed Comment’

‘Gather and Graze’ was created in many ways out of frustration. My moments of quiet time for reading and thinking are often spent agonising about how this world is spinning out of control in one way or another. Many things I physically can’t do anything about, but when it comes to finding a solution to the Obesity Epidemic, I’d really like to be a part of it. So ‘Gather and Graze’ was born.

I feel very strongly that each individual needs to take responsibility when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight (excepting of course the very small minority who actually do have medical conditions that make this difficult). It is YOU who consciously makes a decision to queue up in the drive-through lane for Fast Food. It is YOU who fills up the shopping trolley with soft drinks/soda and processed food ready to merely be microwaved and served up on a plate. It is YOU who passes this abhorrent way of eating on to your innocent children. Who are we kidding, if the majority of Western society could exercise restraint and learn how to cook again (even the basics), then the world would be in a far better place than what it is today.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to turn back the hands of time to a day and age when all of these products weren’t available and people had no choice but to eat REAL food, however we do have the ability to simply (and consistently) say “NO!” Only then might we see a decline in the production of these items and a shift in what is offered in the marketplace. We need to learn from the numerous cultures around the world who haven’t bought in to this awful Western-Style diet, who embrace a healthy diet and life-style, who continue to cook the food of generations past and who are rewarded with good health in both mind and body, plus a longevity of life that not surprisingly goes along with these choices.

My sincere hope is that people (particularly those who desperately need it) might come across my website and realise that it’s actually quite easy and economical to cook from scratch all of those lovely day-to-day meals and baked goods that are out there. It’s not a chore, it really doesn’t take that long and it’s such a wonderful investment in the future for not only the health of ourselves and our loved ones, but equally for the health of the environment and the world we are to pass on to future generations.

More often than not, much of the food in supermarkets contain a list of ingredients that we know not what half of them are. We need to nourish our bodies with REAL food, so that we can be 100% sure of what we’re putting in. Numerous chemicals and modified ingredients are added to both keep costs down for the company that produced it and to allow the product to sit on the shelf for many months/years longer than they should. These ingredients are obviously not being accepted by our bodies in the same way that more natural ingredients would. I can only suspect that it’s through the sheer volume that some people are consuming of this type of food that the unnatural substances are taking their toll and wreaking havoc with their bodies.

PORTION SIZE! PORTION SIZE PORTION SIZE! Our bodies require far, far less than what many would imagine. My personal thought is that it is initially through gluttony (for lack of a kinder word) that we indulge in more food and larger portions than our body needs. Then as the stomach increases in size, from the extra food being put in, it becomes harder to feel satiated by a normal size meal and with the added dimension of exercise no longer being balanced to create an input/output match, there’s little wonder the body becomes bigger and bigger. Importantly though… the stomach having shown it’s ability to increase in size, not surprisingly has the ability to shrink as well. We seem to think that we should be entitled to go through life without ever feeling the pangs of hunger, but we really do not need to be snacking and filling our bodies up with food at all hours of the day. Let your body feel a little hungry now and then – it really won’t hurt you.

There are those who choose not to snack on food, but to always have a drink on hand. Rarely will this drink be water. I lived in the USA for a couple of years and was appalled by how much soda was consumed by people on a daily basis – it’s almost like it’s on tap. I seriously question whether this is doing an equal or greater amount of harm to our bodies… Where we used to drink water, plain milk, fresh-squeezed fruit juice (all very natural substances) we are now taking on board empty calories, high levels of sugar-like substances and a concoction of various flavourings and colourings. The addition of artificial sweeteners to these drinks, to make us supposedly feel like we’re drinking ‘diet’ or ‘sugarless’ beverages is only perpetuating the problem and tricking us into believing that it’s somehow good for us and won’t have an effect our bodies. As always, in moderation and as an occasional drink to be had, I’m sure it would be fine, but too many don’t seem to grasp this simple principle. I find it uncanny that whenever I pass an obese person in the supermarket, they always seem to have a carton of diet soda in their trolley. Is it not obvious that this so-called diet foodstuff is not doing it’s job?

My thoughts on this subject may appear a little harsh and provocative to some, though it is said very much in concern for the individuals themselves and our society in general, that finds itself increasingly heavier year by year. We need to find solutions soon, to turn around this awful and debilitating condition. Without speaking about it and acting upon it, we will ultimately be paving the way to ruin for so many in our society.

Postscript – My husband, myself and my two children all have normal, healthy BMI’s. We eat simply prepared, tasty REAL food. Occasionally we’ll go out for a meal, but never to a fast-food joint or franchise-style restaurant… always to somewhere that cooks good quality REAL food. On these occasions our children might have a glass of soft drink, something seen as a special treat. At home with meals, they will either have water (mostly) or 100% juice. I can’t remember the last time I drank soft drink… We’ve never bought in to the low-fat products on offer – our milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, cream etc. is all as natural as possible and full-fat. Fresh fruit and vegetables feature large, with always a supply of seasonal offerings (preferably from the farmer’s market or local sources). My husband and children prefer raw vegetables to cooked, so often there are bowls of carrot sticks, green beans or snow peas on our table to go with our meals. Meat is enjoyed in quite small portions with most evening meals. We certainly do have treats in our house, but eaten in moderation and not for consuming mindlessly. It works for us…