It is so easy to feel confused by all the health information in the press. Have you become almost blind to all the warnings or recommendations about what we should or shouldn’t eat, and the effect certain foods have on our health? Why, despite all the advice, and the threats, does Britain continue growing ever more overweight? Is it because we don’t like being ‘told’ to limit our intake by the government or NHS? Is it the pressure of advertising and the availability of so much choice?
We aren’t pious or sanctimonious about food here at The Terrace, but we do like to promote a healthy lifestyle that considers both mind and body – what we eat can affect our mood as well as our weight. To deprive ourselves of certain nutrients is as bad as over indulging in others (for example, there is some evidence that the B vitamins and magnesium have been shown to support our mental health) and we know that getting the balance between diet and exercise can seem like a nightmare. But it is so important to our overall well-being to find something that suits us, and ensures we don’t carry on until our physical health deteriorates and our lives are shortened.
Sadly, the news today highlighted what can happen when we take things to extremes. Britain’s heaviest man, Carl Thompson, has died aged just 33. He weighed 65 stone and had been housebound for more than a year. It took a small crane and all the emergency services to remove his body from his flat, where he was cared for by visiting NHS carers. He has already had five heart attacks, and had been told he needed to lose 45 stone or die. He had cut down on his 10,000 calorie a day intake but was still existing on takeaways to the last. Reports told of how he had developed a difficult relationship with food from the age of three, when he used to raid kitchen cupboards, but no one had been able to find the root cause of what was, of course, a serious eating disorder.
Now we would not suggest our favourite recipe for delicious nettle soup or tabbouleh salad, or any other healthy eating plan should have been forced upon Carl. At some point he lost control of his eating and despite being increasingly disabled by his weight he could not stop. It is desperately sad, and we have to hope he got all the support available. However, for most of us it is not too late to gradually change the way we think about food. Therapy can help, as can the support of peers who experience the same issues. A major breakthrough can take place when someone notices how their diet can affect their mood. The mental health charity Mind has a wonderful page that goes into diet and mood in a very accessible way, as does the Mental Health Foundation. They offer recipes, talk about about eating the right fats (not no fat), drinking plenty of water and ensuring you take in protein as well as your five a day. Do take a look and see what we mean. No fuss, no ticking off and no draconian measures required.
If you do want to see the sort of recipes we enjoy eating, with the ingredients we know can lift mood and aid digestion, take a look at our Pinterest page devoted to healthy foods. You don’t have to go all out for vegetarian foods, or drop things you enjoy completely but there is a world of delicious stuff out there many of us know little about. It may feel annoying to be told what to eat by the government, or doctors; but seeing Carl, and the horrors of his weight gain, isn’t it worth biting your lip and just taking those first few steps to get out of a cycle that can affect both mind and body?