I’m back from my latest 10 day trip to Aotearoa.
And trippy it was. With some time to finally submerse myself in it, my vacation reading was Good Calories, Bad Calories.
The stories of the impact of a modern diet on indigenous people were particularly poignant given the massive problem of Maori obesity that was evident everywhere. I saw a lot of women, in particular, who were clearly not sedentary (employed in a variety of moderately active jobs) yet who were morbidly obese. Not that the average Caucasian Kiwi is svelte but the serious problem facing the Maoris was, by contrast, shocking.
There are a lot of paintings available online from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s which provide a snapshot of Maori men and women before changes in lifestyle and diet took their toll. The stats are interesting but the images are a much more wistful reminder of what has been lost.
Gottfried Lindauer, 1877
Of course the recommendations trotted out by the government are the usual tripe Lack of exercise and unhealthy eating are two of the main causes, We eat too much fatty food, Not enough fruits and vegetables… blah blah blah.
On several occasions I saw people out at restaurants diligently cutting the fat off their steak and then polishing off a huge plate of fries. So the good news is that consumers are keen to follow the prescriptions for a healthy diet. The bad news is that, regardless of continent, the official advice is lousy.
Being on holiday, I ate out the whole time and found a lot of carbs creeping into my diet despite efforts to avoid them. Saying that, there were a few occasions I opted to partake freely because, frankly, I didn’t want to be a complete buzz kill for my travelling companion.
I was travelling with a carb eater who dove head first into all the goodies available. She’s got her own demons to face on that one but hey – we were on hols.
Neither of us have been working out much lately so I was pleased to note that when we went hill walking, I seemed relatively sprightly. She had to stop for breath on the climbs much more than I did and although my legs got a bit rubbery before hers (by that I mean the low blood sugar feeling) my heart didn’t seem too upset by the sudden demands. I thought I’d be in bad shape for the hills but I felt pretty strong… not much worse that when I was a carb eater and working out like a demon every day.
For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, 1891
From the Auckland gallery. The image depicts a child’s funeral. Death’s next young victim is suggested in the grey pallor of the flower bearer. The poor children from the countryside, with decidedly healthier complexions, look on at the procession.