Four years ago, when I took my personal training qualifications, one of them covered the topic of nutrition and diet.
At the time we were trained to use the food pyramid and still I see this example in doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and schools.
So when my twin boys were at primary school they were being educated in the same way about the types of food they should eat most of, and the sort of things they should avoid.
Their class was even sent home with a diet sheet from the local authority.
It advised that if your child became hungry between meals, you could try giving them a sugar-free jelly. Sure!
That’ll fill them up – a mix of gelatin, sweeteners, colouring and water.
For a long time official nutritional theory was largely negative.
A food was ‘good’ if it had zero fat, zero sugar or zero cholesterol.
This was a joyless way of looking at the process of eating.
And what’s more, it didn’t work.
While governments and doctors encouraged us to cut our pleasures out, obesity levels soared.
This is mainly due to the fact that these types of food contain chemicals which our bodies don’t need for nourishment.
As a consequence, they are recognised by the body as toxins and end up being stored as fat.
We are now in the midst of a nutritional sea of change.
The old enemies of fat and protein are being welcomed back.
And at the same time refined carbohydrates are the new devil.
But the change is far bigger than this.
There’s a new sense that food is not just about calories in, calories out.
We are starting to realise that 400 calories of salmon and lentils might keep us going for longer than 400 calories of low-fat white sliced bread.
What we are seeing – and about time too – is a return to the old concept of nourishment.
The wartime generation, living with scarcity, judged foods largely in terms of how they much they would nourish you.
Fish was brain food, meat and milk would build you up.
Butter and eggs were cherished as golden treasures.
Blackcurrant and oranges were valuable sources of vitamin C.
Children needed to be fed properly, not fobbed off with sugar-free jellies.
With an endless selection of processed food, made cheaply and packaged for our convenience, we have almost become brainwashed by the offers and seem to have lost touch with what real food is.
My advice would be to read the label.
If there’s anything you don’t recognise, just don’t eat it!
Also anything with a long shelf life should be treated with caution as it has usually had masses of preservatives added to keep it that way.
Otherwise how could it last for such a long time?
So don’t reject the idea of nourishment as old-fashioned.
Looking at our increasingly chubby youth, it may seem on the surface that ‘nourishing’ is the last thing they need.
However this couldn’t be more wrong.
A gathering body of scientific evidence suggests that the obesity of the West and the malnutrition of the developing world are not as far apart as they might at first seem.
· Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps where she trains groups. Known as FAB Body Bootcamps, two are based in Fareham and one is in Portsmouth. Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.