You know what?
(I know this will come as a complete shock to many of you ….)
I really dislike the term “superfood”.
I love it about as much as I love the term “supermum“.
Because, quite frankly, if that single blueberry doesn’t come flying in, cape on, underpants on the outside, to rescue me from the terrorists living in my kitchen, tormenting me with their tween- and teenage obnoxiousness and body odour, then there’s no fucking super about it!
They won’t even do my frigging ironing!
The alleged “super” foods. Not the kids. I’ve managed to train one up well. Ish. He still whinges, but he does it.
For me, and yes, admittedly I have been swayed by the media, in my vulnerable youth watching hours upon hours of The Justice League when cartoons were proper cartoons, the term “super” indicates something, or someone, who is exceptionally altruistic, compassionate, and looks damned good in lycra! Oh, and they have a power of some sort that no one in the real world has, and they get about rescuing you and being all nice and stuff and doing good in the world.
Super according to my trusty Concise Oxford Dictionary, that sits lovingly at my right hand most days, is defined, amongst other things as “exceptional” or “splendid”.
If we apply that concept of ‘super’ to food, well, again, this is all a little bit subjective.
Some people think the taste of McDonald’s food is ‘exceptional’ or ‘splendid’. Others see a highly processed, cooked in cheap oil, but exceptionally large and exceptionally cheap chicken parmagiana as ‘splendid’.
Personally, I like a large bowl of chat potatoes, roasted in duck fat as ‘exceptionally splendid’, as is really good quality salmon and oyster, found at those places that charge upwards of $30.00 for an entree.
Places I do not go to nearly often enough! In fact, it has been far too many years, verging on decades … no wonder I’m not feeling like a super mum, what with being deprived of these ‘super foods’.
Some see the exceptional and splendid, therefore the super, in the taste, others in the texture, others in what it looks like, or home much it costs.
Super food, however, is generally a term used to describe the health benefits of a particular food; as being rich in nutrients and considered especially beneficial for health and well being.
Having been involved in the health and well being industry since the time of the fluorescent lycra g-string leotard and leggings (but slightly after the leg warmer phase) I have seen a veritable plethora of foods afforded the title of ‘super’.
From blueberries to wheatgrass, from kiwi fruit to quinoa, and broccoli to kale. That list is, by no means, all encompassing.
The lists of Top Ten Super Foods has been a fad for well over two decades now (as an aside, is it still a ‘fad’ if it’s lasted quarter of a century??) and each list provides a variation on some previous list, or you’ll get some sort of rivalry or contradiction or similar between two ‘opposing’ business/services/’professionals’ touting to care about your health and well being.
Interestingly, at least for me it is; I find it quite intriguing, whilst a considerable number of these ‘health and well being’ artisans are vehemently opposed to such constructs as The Healthy Food Pyramid, claiming it to be a tool of the devilish government and all based on who is in whose pocket, and how one of those whos (or both) are going to make the most money out of it, et cetera, there is something remarkably similar between the lists of super foods and the Healthy Food Pyramid …
The alternative to the Healthy Food Pyramid is the Healthy Food Plate, which gives a fabulous representation of what your plate should ideally look like, from a health and well being perspective, when you pile it up (or not) with food.
You see, all the items on the varying lists of super foods I’ve ever seen, stumbled over, and researched have one thing in common.
The foods, despite the variations on the lists, are all mostly plant based foods, and all have at least one item of each of a grain, fish, and dairy.
MOST are plant based, and there are fewer grain, dairy, and meat based items.
Which is kind of like the food pyramid with your ‘eat most’ bits – which contain an awful lot of plant based items. Those would be fruits and vegetables. Yes, eat lots.
The eat less, but still considered essential are the meat and dairy bits.
To be fair, the reason specific fruits and vegetable, the fish (sometimes specified, other times it’s a more general ‘fish’ type statement) and certain dairy and/or protein products (like nuts or eggs) end up on the list is because they tend to contain a little bit more of some of the good stuff that their counterparts house.
Blueberries, for example, versus strawberries, are higher in antioxidants, which offer lots of beneficial stuff for you and your body.
It does not mean strawberries are pointless and you should avoid them, because strawberries are delicious. Also, they are also full of good stuff, aside from deliciousness. Fibre, and vitamin C, and well … a lot of good stuff.
It all just depends on what the latest ‘thing’ is that researchers have found that is beneficial to your health and well being, and then which foods contain the most amount of that particular thing.
Other items have been on the list since day dot, because they are not only advisable to eat from a wellness perspective, they also contain higher amounts of whatever than other foods in the same groups.
These foods include things like:
These ones appear to be the ‘stayers’.
Oh, yeah, and they tend to be more expensive than their non-super counterparts. Especially when they are in the spotlight after the latest research, or someone has just ‘discovered’ them and decide they’re the food in current flavour.
Quinoa and kale are the latest editions. Not because they haven’t been around for ages, but because someone, somewhere, needed to do something ‘new and exciting’ in the food word. This society does not bode well with complacency, and is constantly seeking something new and exciting (which, again, is all relative and subjective) (and also a great way to make more money for whomever ‘discovers’ it).
The danger with super foods, or at least the way they are promoted, is that it is implied they are completely preventative, or curative, or super, amazingly, exceptionally, splendidly good for you and will cure all ails.
They don’t. They won’t. They can’t.
People hang onto this and tend to cut out a lot of other good stuff, or think that eating a bowl of quinoa followed by a bowl of berries and low fat natural yogurt after scoffing a Big Mac and large fries is going to cancel out the detrimental effects of the mac and fries.
However, including ‘super’ foods in your daily eating plan (not diet or restrictive eating/food supplemented schedule), along with all those other things in the food pyramid/on the food plate, in the proportions advised, increases your changes of living a physically. physiologically and psychologically healthier life, with fewer ailments and diseased. It reduces your risk of serious illness.
It does NOT guarantee you won’t get sick, at any level, minor or terminal. You’re just less likely, statistically speaking, to.
Health and wellness, as we know, is not just about eating ‘super foods’ and nothing else.
It’s about enjoying food, and enjoying life.
It’s about being active.
It’s about having some good, restful, relaxing downtime.
It’s about enjoying what you do and who you are.
It’s about being able to do those things you really want to do.
It’s about enjoying good, quality, and fun time with those you love; family, friends, or otherwise.
It’s about smiling a lot and laughing till you wet your pants.
(Also, work on that pelvic floor of yours!)
All of that? That’s super!