Can we make better and more healthy food choices? Food dominates our lives. We spend so much time around food: thinking about it, shopping for it, preparing it, eating it, talking about our next meal. It really has an important place in our lives. So why is it that so many of us know so little about food? During the lockdowns, many of us took to cooking with a newfound passion. The proud photos were all over social media, quite often of freshly baked sourdough bread. Maybe it was because we had more time to kill. Another phenomenon is the many thousands of journeys of food delivery bikes. Much of that would have been comfort food and I heard many people talking about weight gains in recent months. We all know certain foods can make us fat and others make us lose weight. But can some foods make us happier? It seems so and this article and Q+A is about just that. We recently got to know Joyce Bergsma, a Canadian living in Amsterdam. As a nutritional therapist, she really knows all about food and its effect on health and happiness. She is very scientific about food…
Making Better Choices
Joyce helps people to make healthy food choices by being better informed, specifically in relation to food and nutrition. We hear all the time about people being lactose or gluten intolerant. Those people have to make food choices every day that can have a massive difference to their well-being. Others are under or overweight because of their diets and changes there can vastly improve their happiness.
The best piece of dietary advice I ever heard really applied to my habits: ‘Never go food shopping when you are hungry’, otherwise a tube of Pringles would magically fall into the shopping trolley. So, for some people like me, it might just be all about replacing bad habits with good habits. It is definitely also about making better choices. So, with that in mind, Joyce has kindly taken time out to answer our questions about food and nutrition and how we can indeed make more informed healthy food choices.
1. Joyce, please tell us about your relationship with food and how you became a nutritional therapist.
My relationship with food has always been related to the soil, as some of my best memories were at my grandparent’s farm and the food we ate together. Living in the city in my 20’s as I explored what it meant to cook for myself, I didn’t always eat well, but I ate a wide range of foods and enjoyed exploring new flavours. Later when I studied nutrition, I realised how long the road to optimum health still was. Now I’ve been in a very happy food place for years and make adjustments based on my current health.
There are so many things that contribute to our happiness that relate to good food choices. They include our enjoyment of food and the people we share that food with and the process of preparation of that food. It also is important to choose foods that boost our mood and balance our hormones; fats help our brains send messages and affect our hormones, proteins are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine improves the sleep that is essential for our mood and keeps hormones in balance.
2. With many people ordering home deliveries, what trends are you currently seeing?
There are obviously some people that have been making some great habits of walking, running, just being out in nature. There are also lots of us who have felt isolated, hibernated indoors and been making bad food choices. In this latter group, I’m seeing weight gain, high amounts of stress-related issues like anxiety. No one falls into a single group though so we need to just build on the good habits and I was very happy to see that most people have been cooking more than they used to. I’m not against home deliveries and there are some excellent choices out there that make our lives easier. We don’t need to be perfect.
3. In these difficult times, with many people paying attention to reduce their food budgets, where do you see wins to be made?
The best thing about cooking for yourself is that it’s good for both your budget AND your health. We eat more pure foods, without sweet sauces, and know exactly what we are putting into our mouths. This is incredibly important for being in touch with our bodies and what they need and understanding how food affects us. Did you know you can buy 4 mandarins, 1 apple and a large amount of ginger…all organic, for the price of a double latte? If you think eating vegetables and fruit or eating organic is expensive then think again. Not to mention the cost to your health.
4. Which healthy food choices can we all adopt in order to improve our diets?
Don’t be afraid of foods, explore and broaden your choices in the grocery store as this will broaden the nutrients you take in and maximise your health. Eat LOTS of veggies and fruit as this will help you poop and increase your chance of longevity and a healthy life. Switch from fried foods to healthy fats like fish, seeds, nuts, avocadoes, coconut oil and occasionally butter to feed your brain, skin and, well, every cell in the body.
5. Tell us more about other ways you help people to improve their lives through better nutritional choices.
My work in nutrition revolves around the symptoms (that everyone has) and looking at how food can support the organs or systems in the body that are presenting with these symptoms. So why are you bloated? How can we improve your digestion? Or why do you have anxiety? We’ll look at the foods that support your stress response system, your brain and your glands to see what works for you as an individual.
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Thank you Joyce for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer our questions. It is more important than ever to be thinking about our mind and bodies and staying fit and healthy. If you would like to know more about making healthy food choices, simply get in contact with Joyce.
Phone: 06 30 55 47 29
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