It’s an old saying which history seems to give several individuals credit for coming up with. One source suggests that the first mention of the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ came from the 1826 work “Physiologie du goût, ou méditations de gastronomie transcendante” in which French author Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote: “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
Regardless of who said it, the point is that it seems to ring true when looking at the latest advice which, as usual, comes from a variety of reliable sources. From the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide to advice of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it’s clearer than ever that what we put into our bodies makes a world of difference.
According to experts, up to 80% of early heart disease and stroke can be prevented by adopting healthy behaviours including eating a well-balanced diet. Advice includes:
• Avoid saturated fats as they increase LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood.
• Choose more protein foods that come from plants.
• Make water your beverage of choice (the guide explicitly mentions that 100% fruit juice and sugar-sweetened milk should be reduced).
• Limit your consumption of processed foods and beverages (the new guide recommends less than 2300 mg/day of sodium and less than 10% of total daily energy intake from free sugars and saturated fats respectively).
• Limit your consumption of alcohol.
• Plan your meals, cook more often, enjoy your food (speaking to consideration of culture and food traditions), and eat with others.
• Use food labels.
Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices (and here I’d have preferred if they used the word “beware,” which is clearly what they’re getting at).
Although changing the way we eat feels like a daunting task, these important lifestyle changes will not only increase our longevity, but also our quality of life. To bring it back to old sayings: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”