The pandemic has brought plenty of black clouds into our lives but a little ray of sunshine can be found in the increased number of people now cooking their own food.
A new Woolworths study found 41 per cent of Australians are now choosing to cook their meals at home. People are also buying less processed food and 30 per cent more vegetables. Our own Aston RX research found similar results - 85 per cent of the people we surveyed found they weren’t any more reliant on take away food since the pandemic.
But the Woolworths study did find that a third of the average shopping trolley was filled with what is known as discretionary items, or 'sometime' foods. These can include potato chips, soft drinks, sweets and ice cream.
The infiltration of these sometime foods into what may otherwise be a healthy diet is concerning, especially when they tend to be more regular, than occasional.
One of my clients told me recently that she’s eating really well but eats some chocolate every day. People tend to think their 'discretionary' foods are more related to calories but that’s only one part of this picture.
There’s also the spiked insulin response, the poor gut microbiome and the weight gain.
Discretionary foods are probably full of trans fats and refined sugar so, even if you can escape weight gain by eating them sometimes, you won’t escape the health impact. A food such as chocolate – essentially processed fats and sugar – will have an almost instant affect on your gut microbiome and, if it’s being consumed regularly, the effect will cumulate.
If you have autoimmune issues, weight, digestive or inflammatory issues, any damage you cause to your gut biome will have a significant impact. A dose of probiotics in the morning won’t ease that burden on your health. It’s like taking poison with the antidote.
Those foods feed the opportunistic bacteria in the gut and then cry out for more to be sustained, creating a spiral. If the habit is broken though, you don’t crave those foods anymore and can shift to having them occasionally. I’m not saying never but it’s important to realise that sometime foods are just that. They’re only to be eaten sometimes, occasionally, now and then.
Dedicating an entire day each week to eating junk is much more than sometimes. One meal, maybe. One snack, well, ok. But keep an eye on 'sometimes'.