600 Calories- the Government is causing confusion yet again!!

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600 Calories- the Government is causing confusion yet again!!

The Government's new initiative, which was announced on the news yesterday, was advising us to have breakfast which consists of 600 calories. This infuriated me, I mean really infuriated me! In my opinion this is misleading and actually quite damaging advice. Why?

I explained this in during my live cooking session of Facebook yesterday but I feel this 600 calories needs to be explained, as 600 calories of valuable nutrition and food that will help fuel our bodies and minds and ultimately achieve the aim of fighting obesity and diabetes. We can eat 600 empty calories; chocolate, mars bars, coke. We can even think we are being healthy and eat shop bought highly processed and loaded with sugar foods such as cereals, energy balls, snack bars , smoothies and fruit juices. However unless we are educated on how to identify what constitutes good food and nutrition, we will not be able to tackle the problem we are facing with an ever increasing number of children being diagnosed with diabetes and being recorded as obese.

Lets start with do people even know what are the markers for obesity? This information should be everywhere so that people can be more aware of the markers and signs. Then we need to educate the population on how to tackle the mind field of nutritional information available on products. This will mean that we are able to make informed choices about what we are eating. There is too much information out there, which I have found the majority of people I meet do not understand let alone know how to use to make those all important choices.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not creating an us and them scenario, I am basing this on my experience of the hundreds of parents, families and people I work or have worked with. I am not saying that everyone is in the same boat and quite frankly if you are reading this you are already interested in food and what you can do to make changes in your life. It's about how we make this information more easily accessible to the millions of people who do not see or even consider that food has any relation to their health and do not have the tools to make those choices.

I ran a very brief work shop with a group of people the other day. There was a range of ages and they were, in the majority, women.  I simply asked them to write down what they had eaten that day and put the foods into three categories; protein, carbohydrate and fats. Easy right? We all know that? NO I was surprised that this task proved quite difficult and there were misconceptions what constituted these three food types.. Food is of course more complex than these basic categories and I also went on to discuss,  on a very foundational level,  the Glyceamic Index and how we can use and incorporate it in our own diet.

The information was useful for many, who were keen to make changes and learn more, but equally it was received with distrust and disbelief by some who were not ready to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.

The food  and the lifestyle choices we make, ultimately impact on our health. That is a fact! I believe it's not so much about the calories, but about how we eat, when we eat, what we eat, how much we exercise and move, how much sleep and rest we get, how much we work and how much we enjoy life. I have found the work by Dr Chatterjee and also Dr Tim Spector absolutely fascinating. They are championing the way forward with how we think about food and life in general.

So again I go back to the the point of what use is telling us to have 600 calories for breakfast when those 600 calories can be empty and harmful to our mind and body.

If we want to stop and reduce this ever increasing trajectory of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and the risk of cancer, we seriously need to begin by looking at educating our current and future populations to what consists of a healthy lifestyle and how to circumnavigate our way through the forest of unhealthy foods, detox and diet fads and misleading information.

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