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Take Control of Your Energy – Know Your Daily Bread!
Isn’t it surprising how little interest we show in the food we eat? Except we care how it tastes. Having our daily bread is a privilege most of us take for granted. But how much do we know about carbohydrates or ‘starches’ and how they affect our bodies? For those of us who have heard the Bible story, food was the devil’s first weapon to tempt us to self-destruction. And if we don’t learn to understand carbohydrates, this staple food can be deadly to your body. Handle with care!
I love bread. I always have. Especially fragrant, home-baked, whole-wheat bread my mother bakes with a golden crust. When I lived in Germany, first as an au pair and then as a trainee journalist, bakers on every main street tempted me with different types of rolls, each with a different name: Lausbub, Milchbrottle, Volkorn, Dreikorn, Rogenbrochen, Salzpretzel. Absolutely delicious. But I soon paid the price: my normally thin body began to gain weight at a bite-sized pace!
When I got home no one recognized me. And I had nothing to wear! It was during this time that my quest for knowledge about food began. Now I am a passionate advocate of teaching nutrition in kindergarten. Because modern mothers don’t seem to have the knowledge they need to teach their babies and toddlers good feeding habits — especially not the most modern, scientific information. This is such a pity: every human child should know what food is good for his body and what food is tasteless.
One thing I’ve learned is how much our culture influences our food choices, especially when I’m involved with a charity that runs two boarding schools for teenagers, mainly from deep rural South Africa. Children studying in these schools – one for boys, one for girls – come from homes where meatless meals are not meals, just ‘snacks’. And before you stop eating you have to fill up with maize porridge (called ‘futu’ here) to say ‘full’!
If I look at the rest of the world I’ve traveled to – the cultural patterns are different, but the end result is the same: too much carbs and fat! In the USA, children grow out of cereal with milk and McDonald’s burgers. In Europe, many are now adopting a similar diet. Just a few weeks ago, in July, when I visited my angel in Germany, her father was lamenting that mothers would come up to him in his daughter’s swimming class and sternly warn him that his daughter was too skinny! He remembers from his childhood that all children are fierce and athletic. Now most primary school children are already showing signs of obesity!
Yes, we definitely need carbohydrates in our diet. It is the fuel for our muscles. Therefore, especially if we are more active, physically, we need this type of food in all its different forms: bread, cereals, pasta, etc.
Children have more energy than we do, because their bodies are not yet burdened by the bad eating habits that we as adults have often adopted from our own parents. Looking into the history of food and understanding the eating habits of my own ancestors, overeating was not the order of the day. After World War II something happened when it came to our diet. Suddenly, all kinds of new artificial food ingredients entered the mainstream: coloring, flavoring, preservatives. And television brought all these ‘wonderful’ new foods and these new tastes into our homes. So, of course, our diet has changed!
As farm children who were used to wheat bread made by mother at home, it was special to get white bread in the village bakery. If it had remained a special treat, it would have been fine. But with urbanization and further distance from the source of our food, white bread – wheat – has become the staple food of many humans around the world.
There’s nothing wrong with wheat—as long as you eat it in moderation. As with most other things: If you don’t overeat, you’re usually fine, health and weight-wise.
But when it comes to wheat, especially white wheat flour, there is a big ‘however’.
White wheat flour – like any other ‘refined’ grain that has been practically ‘surgically stripped’ of healthy fibre, vitamins and minerals – is actually a slightly different form of sugar. Now imagine eating chunks of solid sugar just like we eat slices of white bread or rolls.
I didn’t realize this until I started researching the impact of different types of food on our bodies, minds and emotions. And yes, even on our souls. Drugs affect our soul. But that’s a story for another day…
Today I want you to be very aware of the fact that ‘refined’ wheat has the same effect as ‘refined’ sugar, if not considered in moderation. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, resulting in more insulin being released from our pancreas (remember this organ from biology class?) and in this way affects our body’s ability to regulate its sugar levels over time. Adult diabetes!
If you are a laborer who has to do heavy physical labor or if you are an athlete or go to the gym every day, you can eat a lot of carbohydrates every day, because your body burns this sugar for fuel. The muscles go.
However, if you are someone who spends most of your time sitting or doing moderate physical activity, you should be careful with the amount of fuel you put into your body. Because every little gram of carbs you don’t use that day gets converted by your body into sugar and from there into fat. We may have to fall back on these reserves in those days when our body fat is nothing more than a ‘storage area’ – a ‘ladder’. However, with our current blessed lifestyle, the chances of us not having food tomorrow are really reduced to a minimum, so we don’t need to store huge reserves of fat in our body. The problem with fat is that it puts more weight on our bone structure, pulls gravity down more than normal, and puts more stress on the heart, which is now suddenly feeding a whole new layer of body mass (pure). fat) with blood. Fat is directly under our skin, so if the heart can no longer work properly, blood will struggle to reach our skin and this has all sorts of effects on our body’s well-being. Do some research of your own about this on the internet and you will be amazed how important it is to keep the fat layer under our skin to a minimum.
Another thing we need to know is that wheat contains a substance called ‘gluten’. Gluten is a form of protein that is easily digestible for most people, but in the last two years – perhaps because humans eat too much wheat – a growing number of people are becoming intolerant to this food, with various symptoms such as chronic diarrhea and ongoing fatigue. The bigger problem is that in these instances, gluten prevents the digestive system from properly absorbing nutrients like vitamins and minerals, leading to malnutrition.
I’m not suggesting you rush into getting a gluten allergy test. However, I encourage you to learn more about carbohydrates and how you can ensure that you and the people you cook with can enjoy the benefits of carbohydrates, without suffering the disaster of overeating.
Also, I recommend that we all shift from a wheat-dominated carbohydrate diet to include more diverse types of carbohydrates, because this way we can benefit from a wide variety of minerals and vitamins.
Let carbohydrates form the ‘backbone’ of your weekly menu for your family, then choose suitable vegetables and proteins to serve alongside carbohydrates at lunch and dinner.
Here is the ‘menu plan’ I suggested. Apart from sticking to the ‘first in first’ rule, you can change the order as you wish. I’m including some ‘variations’ for each type of carb so you can start thinking about it. The basic menu plan is always the same:
Breakfast – Fruit only till 12h00
Lunch – preferably 12h00. Ideally, eat only daily carbohydrates with vegetables or vegetable protein. Use bread or grains in soups, soups in winter with bread and salad in summer. If you don’t work from home, make something the night before, pack it for all your family members, and take it to work. Packed lunches for kids always include sandwiches and sliced vegetables like tomatoes, celery, carrots.
Afternoon – around 15:00. Any form of carbohydrate (eg cookie or biscuit) with any type of caffeine-free hot drink or water.
Dinner – around 18:00. Preferably protein with vegetables or vegetable protein with carbohydrates. Eat a moderate portion of protein and salad with your dinner to fill you up. Over time, you will notice that you need less and less food.
Late evening snack – around 20.00, not later than 21.00. Any type of snack – such as nuts or cookies, but only a small portion to satisfy your taste buds. It is even better to drink your favorite herbal tea at this time before you go to bed.
Now you can make your life easier and healthier by choosing your daily carbohydrate for meals from the following:
Mondays – Wheat
This includes any type of wheat bread, pastry, pasta and couscous.
Tuesday – gram/buckwheat or any other ‘exotic’ grain
Visit your local health-store section at the supermarket to see what’s available and try new recipes.
Thursday – Potatoes
It is a versatile food: mashed, baked then fried, baked, baked, chips, potato soup, croquettes.
Wednesday – Oats
Porridge, muffins, crunchy granola crackers, roasted oat flakes in a salad or topped with soup.
Friday – Rai
Rye is known as bread, but see recipes for other interesting things to make with rye. There are different varieties of rye bread too!
Saturday – Maize/Maize
It is suitable for family gatherings. Corn-on-the-cob, nachos, cornbread, and other traditional ways to use corn. Pair with beans, as the Mexicans do, and avoid the meat.
Sunday – rice
There are many types of rice, so there are already a few types. But then, of course, you can use rice, rice cakes, rice dishes, rice and soy milk soup with cinnamon and steamed dried fruits. Let your imagination fly!
The main secret that all of us living in the 21st century need to know is that it is very easy to overeat carbohydrates because they are a form of sugar and sugar is addictive. So learn more about how you can rid yourself of this addiction and start over on a new page. Your body should be grateful!
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