• Bowie Matteson

How Being Your Own Chef is the #1 Way to Your Health

In this age of consumerism, where your salvation is always just one more purchase away, it can be difficult to discern what the right way really is. Especially with your health. As I've discussed before, health has become something so outside of ourselves. Have an issue? You'll need to consult a doctor. Think you've got a solution? Better double check with someone more qualified.


Because ultimately, or so we've been convinced, we don't know what what's right for us.


That is until you realize the metaphorical vehicle we're all in is headed straight for the shitter. 1/2 of America is obese with 90% of those with a myriad of conditions and complications that makes seeking "health" a full-time occupation. Even those that aren't obese are experiencing conditions that alter their day-to-day function. PCOS, Crohn's disease, food allergies, IBS, diabetes. The list goes on. And it isn't just reserved for the elderly or obese.


So we, the people, the majority, the end users and consumers, are left looking left and right wondering who we can trust to take these issues on. The institutions that worked so hard to convince us they knew best, the food industry and the medical community, now realize that they're in over their head. They've deflected, re-specialized, adjusted their niche. It's to the point where you can go to a gastroenterologist that specializes in IBS, but not Crohn's. Or an ophthalmologist that specializes in diabetic retinopathy, but couldn't give you a routine eye exam. All this without any real reprieve. We continue to regress.


What gives?


I'm here to argue that it is your food. It is the burger you hold in your hand, the deluxe whatever you just ordered, that is guiding your health. The adage "you are what you eat" has never been more true. Our country, and I would argue our world, is beginning to succumb to the side effects of convenience, mass production and lack of participation in the creation of food.


The companies responsible for feeding the ~330 million Americans have side-stepped, overlooked and skirted the long term effects of the way they treat your food. The sheer scale of distributing the amount of food to keep this country fed, the idea that you can visit a Walmart in Upstate New York buy a Hostess cupcake, fly to the other side of the country in southern California, and on the same day eat a Hostess cupcake from the same batch, same production line, is somewhat concerning, no?


Especially when it comes with claims of being "doctor and nutritionist approved". Glucerna shakes for diabetics, yogurt for your GI health. But you have to start to wonder if the recommendations from these doctors and nutritionists, the same people who struggle to really heal the conditions of their own patients, should be enough to sway your food choices. OK, doc...why aren't we getting better?


The nutrition sciences and the institutions that propagate food education are desperately lacking. As you already know my gripe with enriched flour, the story behind it is extremely telling.

In the 1920s and 1930s food scientists noted the loss of nutrients in the processing of whole wheat into white flour. As white flour was a symbol of status, it was prioritized in production. To account for what was lost in processing, it began to be enriched, or to have what was lost added back in. This was namely B-vitamins, iron and calcium. This trend became set in stone in the 1940s during wartime, when flour containing products were the most ubiquitous food stuffs being consumed by soldiers. Fast forwards 80 years and we're in exactly the same place. White flour is still the preferred flour in all your breakfast cereals, baked goods and commercial breads. All enriched.


Your nutritionist and doctor fail to mention that the only reason white flour is enriched is because the parts that were removed to turn the flour from "whole wheat" to "white" contained the added ingredients. It has yet to be mentioned that there is, in fact, a difference in the iron and B-vitamins naturally occurring in whole wheat and those added to white flour. This very simple differentiation is the difference in the state of health in America. We have become iron-laden, rusting from the inside out.


Which brings me back to your connection with your food. You cannot eat out today or buy the top-selling products at your local grocery store without encountering enriched wheat flour, or any of the other pro-inflammatory ingredients like canola oil and high fructose corn syrup. So unless you're willing to start constructing your own meals, being mindful of where your food is coming from and how it was treated, your hands are largely tied.


I am a millennial and I cook for myself. I am proud of that and enjoy it, and derive most of my culinary skills from looking up videos and recipes on the internet. I am the minority of people my age. Young adults and middle-aged people are largely ordering out, or cooking what they grew up on, which, for me, was cookie-cutter, box-derived meals like hamburger helper and Kraft macaroni and cheese. That's not going to cut it for your long term health.


With the internet at your disposal, not knowing is never a legitimate answer. If you find yourself saying "I don't know how to cook", it just simply isn't a priority. Make it happen, or continue as you are.


And I understand why people wouldn't want to. They've been convinced that the solution is elsewhere. Supplements, fad diets, and exercise. The authorities we trust do not make it known, and are actually the source of the misinformation. Isn't it weird your doctor knows next to nothing about nutrition and exercise?


It will take only a few success stories, true healing and adherence to being mindful to your food for more and more people to join in.


I also think sometimes people feel that we're too far gone to give a damn. Eating that second piece of cake thinking "well I have to die somehow, this is how I want to go". And I have to respect that. Change comes for those who seek it. If you're unwell, uncomfortable and find yourself sick more often than not, I encourage you to change the way you eat. Participate. Make your meals and seek things that nourish. Eliminate the things that do not. Your body and mind will thank you.


Do:

Raw (unpasteurized) dairy, this includes cream and butter

Grass-fed meats (red and white)

Wild-caught fish

Vegetables (try to get as many colors as you can)

Unenriched wheat flour (I use King Arthur's)

Fruits, NOT fruit juices


Do NOTs:

Enriched wheat flour (in any capacity)

High fructose corn syrup

citric acid

Plant-based milks

anything ending in -citrate

Anything that looks like it doesn't belong in food (-sorbates, dyes, -phosphate)

Vitamin D3

Seed Oils (Canola, sunflower, safflower, palm, palm kernel)


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