We are what we eat – but too much of that is junk food and filled with sugar

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Burger King announced a ‘kids eat for £1’ offer across selected drive-thrus during the holidays. The press release which landed in my in box promised: “Keep the wee ones happy with a tasty choice of a cheeseburger, hamburger, chicken nuggets or vegan nuggets meal complete with a portion of fries or apple slices, and a water or Capri Sun.”

A meal for a quid? Makes absolute sense when families are counting every single penny - a quick, easy hit to feed hungry mouths.

But there has to be a better, healthier way.

A phrase I heard often last week - we are what we eat - resonated once again. Our addiction to junk food and sugar is a major factor in the obesity epidemic which is crushing our health, and putting huge pressure on the NHS. We use food as fuel rather than for nutrition, and, when that takes its toll on our bodies, we turn to our GPs for pills, many of which become lifelong prescriptions.

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A plate of veg ... juice it and you get a nutritional meal (Pic: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)A plate of veg ... juice it and you get a nutritional meal (Pic: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
A plate of veg ... juice it and you get a nutritional meal (Pic: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

For that same quid you could buy a bag of carrots, and for not much more more, some veg and stock and make enough healthy, warming soup that could do over several days. It was good enough for our grans’ generation …

The nutritional difference between the two meals is staggering. One is packed with good things, the other - well you might as well eat the cardboard packaging for all the benefits it’ll give your body.

I’m not singling out Burger King. The entire junk food industry is just as bad, while our supermarkets have mastered the art of luring us in with bright packaging and lots of labels which claim their products to be sugar free, healthy options. Stop counting the calories and start counting the chemicals instead - they suddenly don’t seem quite as appetising.

Our relationship with food is incredibly complex, and so often toxic. We eat for comfort, we eat because we are, unwittingly addicted to sugar. We are over fed and under-nourished at the same time, and fast food joints and supermarkets exploit that to the max.

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I’m guilty. I’ve spent most of my life eating rubbish; ready meals, anything that goes ping in a microwave, and avoided vegetables since I was a kid. If it was green I turned up my nose. Put a plate of broccoli, spinach, carrots, courgette and cucumber in front of me and I’d shove it away. Juice those ingredients, however, and I’ll have two or three a day.

Lockdown sparked that change, but it was all down to my wife exploring juicing that saw me lose 12 lbs in two weeks, and two stones while stuck at home. Had it been down to me, my weight would almost certainly have gone the other way.

Last week, we were at a juicing retreat where all meals were a juice, a blend or soup. Not a morsel needed to be chewed. Chuck in a daily schedule of yoga and walks, and the end result was a stone and half off between us. As with anything in life there is a balance. If we fancy a pizza we’ll have one, but if we get the nutritional levels right, then that has to be good for our bodies as we head into our 60s.

It isn’t about diets and counting calories – I’ve never got that entire industry at all – it’s about healthy heating and getting the right nutrition into our bodies. It really is simple, we are what we eat.

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