Exploring international food and nutrition with Attilio Borra

What is the difference between food and nutrition?

The concept of healthy eating is sometimes considered synonymous with food for the sick. This is a grave mistake. A healthy diet must not lose that sense of pleasure that comes from eating. Italian cuisine, for example, is inspired by the model of the Mediterranean diet which, having an excellent tradition to its credit, helps to preserve the link between food, health and taste. In this article we will try to understand, in more detail, what is the link between nutrition and health.

Nowadays the management times of our social life take precedence over our biological needs, we often tend to give little consideration to the meaning of the term “EAT” and completely ignore that of the term “FORAGE“, two aspects of life that might seem the same thing but which, in reality, express profoundly different concepts.

“Eating” means taking food to appease the urge to hunger. One of the problems of our day, at a nutritional level, is precisely the fact that we tend to eat no longer simply to satisfy the sense of hunger, but more often we do it out of greed at various times of the day, to pass the time, perhaps in front of a movie, at a football match, while studying, or even in the evening clubs, finding in the act of eating an excellent excuse to create an occasion for socializing. Eating is a hedonistic act, man feels pleasure in food but often abuses it, seeking relief or consolation in it.

It is at this point that the importance of the term “FEED” comes into play.

“Feeding” means providing our body with the substances it needs, in the right quantities and proportions, to function properly, in terms of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and other elements). So, in other words, eating means eating foods that, based on our physiological conditions, can give us the nutrients we need to better maintain a state of well-being.

Today we are witnessing the paradox whereby the world population, especially in Western countries, is overfed but undernourished. The accessibility and availability of food is ever greater and the exploitation of the land and intensive farming, chemical preparations, freezing, industrial processing and transport weaken the organoleptic qualities of what ends up on the plate. Nutrition therefore presupposes a concrete nutritional education, without however taking away the pleasure of eating, and a possibly healthy lifestyle in which physical activity also finds space. There is no “standard” diet suitable for everyone but food education must be done, therefore, what is meant by “healthy food”?

Healthy food is food that has all the essential nutrients for our body: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.

But that’s not all, he must present them all intact, even after the manufacturing, cultivation and breeding processes to which he was subjected before arriving on the table. This means that food must undergo the least possible number of manufacturing processes, to arrive on our table with most of its properties still intact.

Buying pre-cooked or packaged foods, perhaps designed to pass “from the freezer to the pan”, in fact means eating foods that have lost most of their benefits. Therefore, these are foods that certainly cannot be defined as “healthy” in the most complete sense of the term. So, to achieve the goal of eating right and not just eating to fill the stomach or throat, we must learn to support biological rhythms as much as possible. If we’re not hungry, it’s best not to eat. If we are sick, let us not force ourselves to ingest something at all costs. If we’re hungry, however, let’s stop for a frugal meal, and don’t wait to be full. In reality we need to understand where the real stimulus of “hunger” ends and where gluttony, or nervous appetite, begins. Once this is cleared up, we will no longer be victims of compulsive binge eating or impulsive food choices, even while shopping.

Speaking of shopping: it would be preferable to avoid going to the supermarket on an empty stomach. In this way, in fact, the chances of buying unhealthy food (or junk food) are greatly reduced. At the supermarket, following a priority in the choice of our ingredients is always a prudent choice, in fact it is preferable to choose fresh foods over frozen ones, and canned or pre-cooked ones last. The latter should only be chosen as a last resort or in an emergency.

Another feature to eat healthy foods is to buy food respecting its seasonality. When we talk about seasonality we are used to thinking of fruit and vegetables. To tell the truth, by now there are very few people who know this seasonality, while until the last century even children were aware of this natural knowledge. Many people know it exists but don’t know it in detail, so they don’t know for example which fruit or vegetables are really summery, which fruit are really springy and so on. But there is also another class of product that we are not used to perceiving as seasonal and that is fish. You may not have known it but fish also follow a seasonal pattern. In fact they obviously reproduce in certain seasons and therefore there is the proliferation of a certain type of fish in a certain season. As far as fish is concerned (but it is an absolutely valid argument, with the due differences also for meat), I strongly suggest that it is necessary to avoid buying farmed fish, often fed with feed which, as we know, could also contain chemical ingredients and residues of breeding treatments.

As far as meat is concerned, on the other hand, we must try to find meat from animals raised in the open air, in mountain pastures and not in industrial establishments where breeding has now taken the form of an assembly line. Healthy meat is that of pasture and not of intensive breeding, there is a considerable difference, from a chemical point of view, between the meat of animals raised in freedom and that of other animals raised in intensive breeding. A difference that we pay very heavily within our body.

We have reached the end of this article on healthy foods and how to choose them to eat well. I hope I have given you some interesting ideas and advice on how to improve your nutrition.

In the coming months we will thoroughly analyze many individual products used daily in many cuisines such as Olive Oil, Parmesan, Balsamic Vinegar, Pasta, Rice, Cured Meats, etc., describing their characteristics, nutritional values ​​and obviously a recipe for cooking them that will satisfy your palate as well as your body.

Please write to me at (F&B email address) and let me know if you have any special requests or would like to share an experience.

So until next month, see you in the kitchen. HI.

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