Sunday, 26 August 2007

Food for thought...

My aim this week is to encourage you to think... nothing more than that, just think. Sounds easy? Having spent the last five years of my life working with many different people, both as a personal trainer and now as a university lecturer, it strikes me how little we actually think about the things we do. Often things which we simply accept without question can have a significant effect on not only our own life but also on those around us. How often do you hear someone say something like 'as long as I have my health that's all that matters'? A comment like this would suggest to me that they are putting their health and wellness at the very top of their priorities, however their actions do not always agree. Of the many areas of life in which we can achieve good health, nutrition and diet must be one of the least understood. We all know that having McDonalds, KFC and Burger King three times a day would seriously damage our health but what about those of us who always go for the 'healthy' option? Are we thinking hard enough about exactly what goes in to the low fat, low sugar healthy options? Just because it's low in calories etc. does that mean it's doing us good? Actually.... NO! Confusing? Actually.... NO!

Those of you who took the time to read the article that I mentioned in last week's post will have some idea of what I'm talking about, those of you who haven't I suggest you pop over HERE and come back when you're done ;) Unfortunately the average person in today's society is so inactive that they can't actually afford to consume a reasonable amount of energy without doubling in size by the week. Shockingly, when I asked the University of Leeds Lifestyle Group to time how long they spent without moving during the average day
(i.e. sleeping, sitting, driving etc.) I found that even on a day when I did three hours of hard endurance training I was totally sedentary for 18 of the 24 hours!! Imagine then how little energy I would be expending were I not training for an Ironman? How much do you move? Anyway, the physical activity discussion is for another day... for now lets get back to food.

We seem to have found ourselves in a situation where little of what we eat is actually food. Instead we consume a variety of products designed to look and taste just like food. A quick look at today's picture demonstrates this very well! What you're looking at is the label from a bottle of Robinson's No Added Sugar Fruit Squash claiming to be 'the perfect choice for your family'. Lets think about that for a second...

Are all the items on the ingredients list of this drink actually 'food'? Would your great grandma recognise them? The bottom line... are they bad for you? A quick Internet search on aspartame HERE and sodium metabisulfite HERE certainly provides food for thought. Can something which is 'not recommended for consumption by children' justifiably be included in a 'family' drink? Of course there is some controversy, and for every person who is anti artificial additives you can find another who says they are fine. But should we even be having those discussions?

H and I are currently striving to 'only eat food' and have therefore ditched many of our previously favourite things such as NutriGrain Bars, Options Hot Chocolate and the 'healthy' fruit and nut mixtures sold in many shops which often contain THIS!!!
As I said, all I want you to do is think. Look at the contents of EVERYTHING you (and your kids) eat, find out what they are and what they may or may not do to you and make your own decision instead of assuming that the people behind the multi-billion dollar artificial additives industry have your health at the top of their priority list.

As usual I'm now propping my eyelids open with matchsticks so to round off... this week has seen some great training. Particularly today where I did an 80 mile ride which included 5 laps of the Pool Triangle (hilly 12.5 miles) at increasing intensity. The idea of this was to learn about pacing longer rides and I set myself the target of each of the five laps being successively faster... which I managed (just) with 38:32, 37:18, 36:37, 35:41 and a quad busting 35:29! My pb for a single lap of this course is 30:54 but stick it on the back of five consecutive days of hard training and then a 55 mile 'warm-up' a long 35 takes some doing although I did still have the energy for a 75 minute brick run straight off the bike which included the infamous 'Kirkstall Hills' run from the gym. On top of today's 5+ hour session there's been loads of good running and swimming and with a day under two weeks to go I'm feeling sharp for the Vit ;)

This coming week will see the final few days of hard training before next week's taper. Things will become much more focused toward the race and on Tuesday H and I are off down to Rutland water to ride and run the course in advance of the big day. We also have the final Pool Triangle race of the season where although a pb will be the target I think the preceding five days of hard training will cause my legs to disagree!

By for now,



active said...

See Morgan Spurlocks book about the film 'Super Size me'. You'll love it! I have it and will lend it ya!

Natural food is the best food for training. Nothing wrong with a treat every now and again. It helps keep the soul strong to be able to say 'yes' as well as 'no'!

Tom said...

The whole McDonalds thing is interesting... I saw an advert for them the other day which was promoting them as being a healthy option but then checked out their typical ingredients through their own website ( and found rather a lot of long complicated words often preceeded by an 'E' number!

the way most of us 'health nuts' fall down is when we're conned by many of the so called 'healthy' options... check out the ingredients of a nutrigrain bar or volvic touch of fruit flavoured water!!

Our favourite treat last week....? Homemade (by H) organic chocolate cake with Green and Blacks organic vanilla ice-cream ;)

speak soon,