Are Nutritional Norms Changing?

Nutritional norms have come a long way. The earliest humans ate plants and raw meat. But humans think, so they innovated, invented fire, discovered spices, and started cooking food properly.

Are Nutritional Norms Changing?
[image: pexels by daria shevtsova]

Fast forward to 2022 — we are now addicted to processed, junk, and fast foods and like to try whatever is new on our favorite restaurant's menu.

So what has happened to our diet and how did it all change? Let's study this nutritional change in detail.

Why did our food change?

The food we eat today would be completely foreign to our ancestors. This drastic change is due to many factors that include:

  • The way we grow it
  • Our processing techniques
  • How we transport it
  • The way food is advertised and sold
  • Our ever-changing lifestyle
  • Better technology

All of these factors have gone through an immense transformation over time. Here are a few other factors that influence our food choices.

Unfortunately, the food we eat today is not healthy. Poor dietary choices are a major reason behind old age disability, which is why knowing how to prepare for old age is now more important than ever.

How has modern lifestyle changed our food choices?

What do modern lifestyle changes have to do with food choices? Well, everything!

We live in a fast-paced world today; many of us are on the go, rushing to work or school. Although tech advancements have made our lives easier, they have made our lifestyles sedentary and time-pressed. 

We come home from a long day at work only to find that we have little to no time or energy left for cooking fresh meals. That is why we want foods that are “fast” and easy to make.

So, what foods do we eat today?

Without giving much thought to our body’s nutritional requirement, we hop into McDonald's "drive thru" and grab a quick, fulfilling meal.

Or we go to the nearest supermarket and pick up processed or canned foods. Thanks to technology and the ongoing pandemic, we don't even need to step outside our homes for food — it reaches our doorstep with just a few clicks on a smartphone.

And unsurprisingly, we don't order healthy foods. Deliveroo revealed the most ordered foods in Australia in 2020, and here is what the list looked like:

  1. Mary's burger
  2. Chicken schnitzel from Schnitz
  3. Grease Monkey burger
  4. Boss Burger Geelong
  5. Zambrero burrito

Did you notice how everything on the list is unhealthy and calorie-rich? If you don’t understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods, give this article a read to make wise food choices.

For now, let’s discuss what calories are and why proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your food matter.

What’s in our food?

The amount of energy in everyday foods is measured in calories, and your body requires a certain number of calories per day to function properly. When you exceed that number, extra calories will be stored in your body as fats.

Conversely, if you consume fewer calories than required, your metabolism will consume those already present in the body (in the form of fat, proteins, and carbs). That is why fitness trainers recommend people to watch how many calories they eat in a day.

So, how many calories do we get from different nutrients?

Well, carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 calories per gram while fats provide 9 calories per gram.

In that case, “can’t we stop consuming fats?”

No! For normal functioning, our body needs:

Proteins. Proteins make up everything in the body — they are important for healthy blood vessels, bones, skin, cartilage, hair, and nails. Our bodies can’t store protein, so we need to get it from the foods we eat.

Fats. Fats protect the nervous system and help transmit messages from the brain to the body. Some fats also regulate our hormones. Fats are not your enemies (they are essential for normal functioning), but an excess of them is bad for your overall health.

Carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s fuel and you need them for day-to-day functioning. Without carbs, cells in your body won’t be able to get energy and die.

It’s important to note that we can live without consuming carbs because fats and proteins can be broken down to produce carbohydrates. However, it’s best to aim for a diet that balances all three of these macronutrients.

How do our food choices impact us? (You might give up fast food after reading this)

According to one Australian study, 35% of an average adult’s and 41% of children’s daily energy intake comes from junk food. And that’s bad news.

Fast foods have low nutritional value (fiber, minerals, and vitamins) and contain very high amounts of fats, sugars, salts, and oil, all of which harm your body.

Excessive fats can lower your HDL (healthy cholesterol) and increase LDL (bad cholesterol). High LDL levels put you at risk for heart attack, stroke, gangrene, and erectile dysfunction.

Obesity can cause respiratory problems and lead to shortness of breath.

Excessive carbohydrates can spike blood sugars and possibly trigger skin conditions like acne and eczema.

Processed foods contain phthalates, which can influence the way your hormones act and might lead to fertility issues and birth defects.

Processed and fast food consumers are more likely to suffer from depression.

What can you do to improve nutrition?

In an era of changing dietary norms, it seems almost impossible to make healthy food choices. It’s challenging to totally cut off fast or processed food from your diet but here are 2 things you can try:

Start including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet, and limit your sugar and fat intake.

Work on your fitness for a healthy life. Try to burn off extra calories; join a gym, take up a sport, walk to work, or engage in any other type of physical activity that can make up for your dietary mistakes.

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