Always on a diet? Did you know that you’re statistically more likely to end up heavier after dieting? And that all those ‘fat-free’ foods are loaded with sugar and chemicals to make them palatable? And that the more processed, packaged food we eat the more we starve ourselves of the essential nutrients our bodies need? No wonder we’re always hungry.
Very rarely do documentaries inspire me to action the way Hungry for Change does. I first saw this enlightening film about nutrition last year with my dear friend Barbara, a fellow graduate of the Rishikesh Yog Peeth yoga school in northern India. It was so exciting we had to keep stopping the film to discuss the ideas and write notes. Geeky yes, but this was the first time we’d heard such a clear, strong message that validated our own ideas and hunches regarding healthy, whole-food eating.
Hungry for Change not only looks at the chemical and biological aspects of diet, but at the psychological reasons why we eat what we do and how those impulses are manipulated by the food companies. Just as more and more nicotine was added to cigarettes in the 1950s because its addictive qualities would keep smokers coming back for more, so sugar is added to virtually every packaged food to keep us hooked into a cycle of highs and lows, constantly looking for a fix, just like someone addicted to cocaine. In fact, the experts in the film liken sugar to a legal version of cocaine.
Now I love cake, biscuits and chocolate just like everyone else. Right now I have three packets of biscuits, a Cadbury’s Easter Egg and about six bars of chocolate in my cupboard. Not to mention the homemade ginger biscuits and lemon cake in my tins. I’m certainly no nutrition angel and I’m not about to give-up sugar. However, these are virtually the only sources of sugar I have in my diet and as I’ve moved towards a fresh, home-cooked, whole-food diet I’ve found my tolerance for sweet and processed food has significantly decreased. I have sugar every day, in the form of a biscuit or piece of cake. And I also have a bit of chocolate every day. With Easter coming I’ll probably eat more than usual. But… the rest of my daily intake is unpackaged, unprocessed food.
I eat a lot of oats, rice, quinoa and couscous. I eat lentils, beans, seeds and chickpeas. Boring huh? Sounds a little dull even to me! But I also eat loads of veggies, herbs and spices. My shelves may be the neutral beiges of unrefined grains but my fridge and fruit bowl are bursting with colour. And this is the key… moderation, colour and home-cooking. I’m not a culinary expert but I like to experiment with my meals. I’m vegetarian, which makes life a lot easier (not to say more peaceful… but that’s another story and I’ll write about it soon), and I buy as much as I can from the organic store. This may sound more expensive but once you let go of all the packaged, processed, highly-marketed foods you’ll find things balance out. After all, who pays those manipulative marketing people to come up with the misleading ads that promise a diet drink will instantly transform you into a sexy, skinny party-animal?
Is this going a bit too far? Why not watch the film and find out? If you’re interested in what you put into your body – and you should be! – then you’re bound to come across some enlightening suggestions. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, diabetes, poor digestion, addiction and weight gain will definitely benefit from watching this film. But even if none of these things affect you or those you love, surely we all want to be as happy and healthy as possible. The worst that can happen is you’ll think it’s a load of rubbish and turn it off. But you may find a point or two that resonates; or an idea to improve your own diet or to help a friend. Or, it may entirely change the way you shop and eat. Are you hungry for change?
Hungry for Change is available to buy on DVD, along with the recipe book etc… but it’s also free online here until the end of March.