By Kristian Grey
For most people, ‘healthy eating’ is all about weight loss and looking better than ever before, and it is hard to argue if that is your motivation for making sensible food choices.
However, for another group of people, the motivation is slightly different. Only 10 days after this column is published, I will be celebrating my 42nd birthday and if the truth be told, I am fitter, stronger, leaner and feeling better than ever.
So, with all the above seemingly in order and exactly where I want it to be, why do I still put so much effort into ensuring the foods I eat are helping me and not holding me back? Why don’t I accept that as we get older, performance deteriorates, cognitive function declines and the waistline expands?
It’s simple; I fall into that other category I mentioned. I am eating for longevity. I want to ensure that I am around to see my children grow up, get jobs, maybe get married, have children and hopefully, even have grandchildren of their own.
You see, the thing many of us forget about nutrition is that it isn’t all about losing weight, getting ‘shredded abs’ and bench pressing double your body weight.
No, for me, the most basic function of nutrition is to sustain life; to make sure you live as long as possible in an optimum physical state, and I believe – with the full-support of scientific research – that eating the right type of food can play a major role in achieving that aim.
Real foods are what fuel a healthy life, like vegetables, animal proteins, fruits and real fats created in nature – olive oil in Cyprus is a great example – and not processed carbohydrates and factory-made fats like so much food is cooked in.
They not only provide everything the body needs to function properly but they also support a healthy heart and cognitive function. If you have previously bombarded your brain with processed carbohydrates and copious amounts of sugar, you will have no doubt experienced the ‘brain fog’ that follows.
Think how you normally feel on Boxing Day after the indulgences of the previous day. You can be tired, grumpy and generally unable to really think straight and on many occasions, you will simply pass it off by saying ‘yesterday was a long day, I am just tired’.
But think about it, how long is Christmas Day really? We are all leading busy lives and work long hours. The only difference on Christmas Day is that we eat junk food, normally from morning until bedtime.
My friend Nicolas Tzenios, the founder of Nic’s Keto and Organic Centre, Cyprus, as readers of this column will be aware, is someone I often turn to for his opinion, because he has experienced everything I have mentioned above and his insight was particularly interesting.
He explained: “I have made no secret of my battle with not only weight problems in the past but also with my overall health too. The most obvious side-effect of eating too much sugar and processed carbohydrate is the inevitable weight gain but it is the mental function that suffers too and it is often overlooked because people can’t see it.
“If we put weight on, we say ‘I need to go on a diet’ but if we are struggling at work, or at school, forgetting things and not feeling generally great, we don’t say ‘I need to change the way I am eating so my memory gets better and I feel happier’ and that is wrong.
“If we eat plenty of healthy fats like olive oil and butter for example, our brains will start to function better. Remember, the majority of our brain is made up of fat, so it makes perfect sense to make sure we feed it what it needs.
“Stay away from sugar; your brain and body do not need it, it serves only to slow you down and make it run inefficiently.”
Personally speaking, I know that since I took sugar out of my diet I have never felt better. I am now looking forward to watching my children grow and being able to enjoy everything again through their eyes as they get older.