Let’s waste some time by paying attention to what we eat

How many times have you heard about healthy eating this year? Do you know what is gluten or lactose? Have you ever thought about the meaning behind plant-based eating? How often do you read the labels on your products before you buy them? Well, I did not do it either until recently.

A couple of months ago I got surrounded with some health-conscious people who are more concerned about food they are feeding themselves with. Firstly, all the ingredients, amount of different nutrients, they sounded and seemed like rocket science to keep them in my mind. Today I can see that the knowledge they shared with me was invaluable and it is worthy to transmit to others. Why do I think it is important? Because a lot of times when I talk to people about eating, nutrition or food-intolerances, the ignorance is high.

Healthy eating does not necessary mean that a person is following a strict, specific diet. It means to choose products which are less-processed in the industry, are organic or contain as little sugar as possible.

I did not start to follow a plant-based diet but as a young adult, now I am more aware about what I eat on a daily basis and I feel much better in my skin.

According to WHO, the most important thing is to find a balance between our individual needs (age, gender, daily physical activity, etc.) and locally available food in case of creating our personalized healthy diet. But what is exactly a healthy diet? It means to improve and maintain the overall health, avoid malnutrition, diseases and conditions throughout eating habits. Nowadays, because of the huge number of processed food, changing lifestyles and urbanisation, people are consuming much more high-fat and high-sugar food than they actually should. It is the result of long-working hours and all the stress people go through a daily basis. The term is called emotional eating, which means that people who feel anxious are more motivated to eat or reward themselves with unhealthy food, which can lead to obesity and other well known, food-related illnesses such as heart diseases and diabetes.

These processed food types (fast food, pre-prepared food, etc.) are high in energy, fats, sugar and have not seen enough fruit, vegetables or whole grains during their production.

Today, in 2016 we can say that one of the most important social development in the recent years was that people started to increase awareness of the link between food and health. This includes the increased knowledge about fat, sugar, their real effect on the human body and the perception of food in general. Regarding to Group Health Foundation and WHO a healthy adult on a daily basis should intake about:

50–60% from carbohydrate

  • healthy carbs: lentils, multigrain bread, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • non-healthy carbs: cola, sweets,cakes, etc.

About 12–20% of protein

  • milk, cheese, meat, beans, eggs, soy, spinach, broccoli, nectarines, etc.

About 30% of fat

  • unsaturated fats: avocado, fish, nut oils, etc.; saturated fats: fatty meat, butter, coconut oil, etc.
  • industrial trans fats: pies, fast food, processed food, margarine, etc.

Another important thing is the source of the nutrients. For example, Protein from spinach or broccoli is not the same as protein from milk or cheese.

How about dairy and gluten? Approximately 75% of world population is intolerant to dairy products and 1 in 10 people are gluten sensitive or what is worse, have a celiac disease (What is celiac disesase? It is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when food types with gluten are eaten — With other words: a disease, when a person is hypersensitive for gluten in food.

So, if you have any kind of symptoms like upset stomach or migraines, vomiting, itching, sweating or fatigue, maybe you should take into consideration to cut out some of the food you consume and look for alternatives.

I love to eat and I love to share the experience with others. At the same time I am opened for new experiences and to learn about other’s eating habits. After digging into the topic by looking into statistics, social media sites and analytics, the biggest hype is around the vegan and vegetarian restaurants who are providing healthy or plant-based meals for customers. At the moment in Denmark, there are more than 250 restaurants which are vegetarian and vegan friendly and approximately 50 restaurants that are offering 100% vegan or vegetarian options.

These restaurants recognized the fact that there are more and more people who are conscious about their health and they are willing to provide options for people falling into the above mentioned segments so they also can have a satisfying dining experience. This way the service that they are offering and the purpose behind is giving a much pleasurable experience for customers.

…Then why is it so hard to find the perfect meal that fits someone’s needs and lifestyle?

Let me go through an ordinary scenario. Let’s say that I am hungry, but I am too busy to cook, so I just sit in front of my computer and browse the Internet to find lunch in my area. The most important thing here is that I would like to try something new, but I prefer food without dairy and gluten and I do not want to pay more than 150 dkk. I type in my criterias to the most popular search engine and I press enter. And here comes the struggle. To find a place that complies with my preferences mentioned above takes me approximately 20–30 minutes of research on different platforms, forums and social medias.

First of all, the food-ordering platforms are focusing on the restaurants in different areas but I need extra time to click on each of them and browse through all the menu cards and dishes they offer to me to see if their offers are suitable for me. Finding the ingredients and category labels (gluten and lactose free) is almost impossible and I have no idea if the dish is good there, this way I am changing the sites for social medias and forums where people are reviewing the restaurants and talking about the actual meals. A lot of research, right? The online tools that are currently available, are not helpful and none of these websites are giving me the transparency that I need to reduce the time on finding the next place I am going to order from.

If you remember, at the beginning of this article I mentioned that in the past months I joined a group of people who are more conscious about the food they consume. These people are also a good example of those, who suffer from the increased amount of time, spent on research. Feeling extremely frustrated about wasting so much time on finding the right meal, they became eager to create a solution to reduce research time and provide access to more transparency. So we joined forces and interviewed over 1500 people and visited approximately 200 restaurants in Aalborg, Aarhus and Copenhagen in order to dig down to the root of the problem. The result of the research was shocking.

If you are interested in the outcome of this experiment, stay tuned and read my next article about the key findings and how we intend to solve this problem for millions of people around the globe.