I recently presented at my business networking group and one of the questions I was asked at the end was what I thought about the possibility of a pill that would deliver all our nutrition needs without us even having to eat. I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and replied ‘I think it’s sad, and I can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t want to sit with family and friends and enjoy a meal.’
What I really wanted to say is ‘Did you listen to a word I’ve said in the last ten minutes?’. How could you possibly even consider taking a pill instead of eating a meal with your family and friends? Do you not remember how amazing those chips tasted wrapped in paper and enjoyed on the beach? Do you remember the taste of a fresh strawberry in summer? The smell of stew cooking on a cold day? The crack of toffee on an apple on bonfire night? I could talk for a lot more than ten minutes about my food experiences. And as a nutritional adviser I believe its not just about what we eat, but how when and why.
If we wanted to be ultimate human beings, if we all wanted to be exactly the same, then why could all eat a highly monitored daily diet comprising of exactly the correct ratio of macro and micro nutrients, get exactly the correct amount of restorative sleep and exercise for exactly the correct amount of time at the correct intensity -BORING.
Whilst it is clear that we have some serious issues with food and nutrition, the frightening statistics around childhood obesity, are enough to scare anyone into taking a pill, I believe it’s the rise of our disconnect between eating, enjoyment and fulfilment that is part of the problem. Gone are the days of everyone sitting around the table to eat breakfast, gone are the days of eating school dinners together, served up by our peers, gone are the days of sitting together to eat our evening meal with nothing to distract us except our direction of the days events. Our disconnect is clear, and the rise of quick food and quick eating is fuelling our inability to differentiate between good and poor food.
Whilst I understand that we are all busy and it can be difficult to find time to sit down for every meal, I do think it’s important to do it at least once a day. I have been known to down a smoothie instead of eat a proper breakfast or lunch, but this is the exception not the rule. The rise of liquid food, marketed by companies that claim they are benefitting the environment are just pandering to our need to feel that our constant rushing and obsession with convenience is a good thing. Drinking our food, or worse still, simply taking a pill, means there is more time to get on with the important things in life. Like finishing that article? Did you ever reminisce about a great project your finished? Possibly if you think hard enough, but I bet you can remember many great meals you’ve enjoyed.
Children’s oral motor skills are developed through chewing food: they can only speak properly if they learn to chew their food properly. What would happen in a society where liquid or pill based nutrition was the norm? Would we lose the ability to speak altogether, it starts to become worryingly like Planet of the Apes to me.
And what about our gut health. We simply do not understand the gut well enough to understand the implications, however what we do know is that our guts are healthier when we give it a diverse range of unprocessed foods to digest. I dread to think what all those nasty gut bacteria would do if they are not kept happy, and simply given a tiny pill to ‘eat’.
If I can ask just one thing of anyone reading this article is; please take a plateful of tasty food, grab a member of your family or a friend, and sit together and eat, your body and your mind will be nourished. And flush those pills down the toilet where they belong.