Tag Archives: Real Food

Nutrition Advice- Who Should We Believe?

I was having an interesting discussion with my husband yesterday about personal responsibility vs government regulation on the issue of advertising to children and food choices families make. His platform- it’s the first amendment, freedom of speech and all, so companies can advertise to who they want as much as they want. Parents need to responsible for what they buy and should just tell their children that certain things are bad for them.

Oh yeah, I had a field day.

We ended up in a loop of sorts with me explaining that not everyone knows or understand why certain additives or chemicals in our food system are unsafe, nor do they understand that the corn industry can basically pay a scientist enough to run a bogus study and skew the results to show that HFCS is perceived the same as table sugar in our bodies. His endless defense was “people should educate themselves, research that stuff, and figure it all out. You did it, and apparently there was enough commotion to cause them to change the name HFCS to corn sugar, so something is working.” Yes he’s very eloquent, and I love him.

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So my question is, who should the everyday people of America turn to when attempting to answer the question “What Should I Eat?”

Your first reaction might be the government, since they are the group with the citizens’ best interest at heart, supposedly. However, with all the lobbying of Congress by Big Ag, you get recommendations tainted by money and business, such as the MyPlate diagram. Harvard scientists disagree so strongly that they created their own version, Healthy Plate. It also slows down or destroys campaigns and initiatives to improve our food system and policies, such as the voluntary guidelines for advertising to children that sparked our debate in the first place. In my opinion, government = Big Ag & large food corporations, all of which are definitely not out to protect our health.

Ok, so the next person you may look to for nutrition advice is your doctor right? Well most doctors get 1-2 nutrition classes in their post-baccalaureate program which usually isn’t enough to see through the smokescreen of the government regulations and recommendations. So you will most likely receive a hand out for the new MyPlate diagram and be sent on your way.

Children get confused as well when MyPlate is promoted but then schools are allowed to serve pizza as a vegetable. This policy has been allowed to continue when Congress blocked the USDA from improving it’s regulations due to pressure from ConAgra and Schwan, despite the Obamas’ push for better school lunches.

So now I come to the professionals who just a year ago I would have touted as the key people to look towards, Registered Dietitians and the American Dietetic Association. However after seeing the sponsorships behind the ADA, I’ve come to question some of their recommendations. For example promoting diet soda over regular as an effective weight loss solution.

So who does that leave us???

I’d have to agree with Michael Pollan, that we should look to our grandmothers, or possibly our great grandmothers. The people who used real raw ingredients to create beautiful nourishing food. The ingredients they used were usually seasonal and fresh since they didn’t have farms in Central America growing their foods year round, and preservation methods were limited. They did not have to worry about chemicals and pesticides in their food and water supply since such things were not widely used until after World War II. They appreciated the art of creating a meal with love and patience. They used traditions passed down through the generations because these traditions kept people alive and healthy, and were obviously delicious if they’d stuck around so long. They did not need modern day science to tell them these traditions and food combinations were good, they relied on the food and flavor to do that. He has said that our ancestors did not need to know that olive oil enhanced the bioavailibilty of nutrients available in tomatoes and dark leafy greens; they just knew it was a delectable combination. These generations also had to work harder for their food and therefore savored it more than we do today in our fast-paced convenience food culture. So get back to the basics of from-scratch cooking, and discover the beauty behind transforming raw ingredients into a beautiful meal.

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The more technology advances, the more we discover how complex food is. But does it have to be? Do we always have to know why something is good? Can’t we just accept that real foods will never be able to be replicated in nutritional value by chemicals from a factory engineered to trick our mind and body into thinking what it is eating is real? Shouldn’t we just resolve to eat a variety of real foods within reason and season?

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Weight Loss Resolutions: The Good, The Bad, & The Opportunistic Money Makers

Now that the new year is upon us, the weight-loss resolutions are all around. I’d like to give my two (or three) cents about these ever-so-common goals.

The Good

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of weight loss resolutions based around a specific number. I like resolutions that I know are going to be fully based on the effort I put in each day, not left up to hormonal fluctuations, water consumption, stress, and a flimsy number on the scale. However, this more pertains to getting rid of those last 10-20 vanity pounds since that is my current situation. I can see how if you were 50, 75, 100 pounds over weight, setting a reasonable weight loss goal for the year could be advantageous. But, I think it would be most beneficial if it were a sub-goal underneath the goal of living a healthier lifestyle. Hitting your target weight does not ensure health, happiness, and lasting weight loss. It is the journey you take for that weight loss, and subsequently the habits you create, that determine whether you will obtain these attributes or not.

  • Just Eat Real Food Stop buying processed food like substances and frankenfoods. Get back to buying real food, something you could grow in your own garden or raise on your own land. Look to traditional diets for inspiration and superfoods long forgotten. Learn to cook from scratch. This takes more time, but it is worth it for your health and vitality for life! Wouldn’t you rather spend 30 minutes to an hour more cooking for yourself than being unhappy 24/7 with how you look and feel?
  • Eat a Wide Variety of Foods The more variety in your diet the more nutrients you will be getting. Don’t fall into the “baked-chicken-steamed-broccoli-brown-rice-every-night-diet”! You are not only setting yourself up for failure because of how boring and bland that menu is, but are also limiting the nutrients you are taking in. This goes beyond fruits and veggies to meat and grains as well. When trying something new, find a recipe that has flavors you are already familiar with and enjoy. So say you wanted to try eggplant for the first time, and you love mexican food, then find a recipe like Mexican Eggplant Casserole for the big purple plant’s debute dinner. Don’t be afraid to sneak in new items as well like liver, tongue, or heart to add powerhouse organ meats to your diet. Micronutrient deficiencies are at the core of many chronic health problem, so starting this habit will make a huge difference no matter what your weight.
  • Break a Sweat Often Notice I did not say “every day” or push a certain activity, like running, over another. A quote I heard a long time ago and have always recommended is this “The best exercise is the exercise you love to do”. If you love doing it, you will make time for it and look forward to it. This may be dancing, running, yoga, pilates, martial arts, a team sport like basketball, rock climbing, and the list could go on and on. Try new activities often to see if they work for you and when you do find something you love, do it!
  • Move Throughout The Day More important than exercise is your daily movement. We were made to move at a low level throughout the day, not sit in desks 6-8 hours straight! And we were made for a variety of movements, not the same motion over and over. Add walk breaks into your routine, do 15 minutes of stretching, squatting, or standing intermittently throughout the day, and just make it a point to move more often. Check out the amazing Katy Bowman at KatySays.com for more info on movement and alignment.
  • Relax and Refocus Everyone gets so busy and overwhelmed as the year goes on, make an effort to always find time to release stress and refocus. Stress builds up and can actually cause physical manifestations that are detrimental to your health, like ulcers and a depressed immune system. Also take a little time to check in with yourself and ensure you are working for an objective that aligns with your values and is something you are passionate about. This could be at your job, in your family and parenting style, in your fitness goals, or what ever other passions you have. Don’t continue trudging on in a direction that does not excite you or worse is actually against your own values. This may mean big changes, but know that when you are true to yourself, you will be at your best in every aspect of your life.

 

The Bad

As I’ve already said, I’m not a fan of making the focus of a weight loss goal a specific number on the scale. I have various reasons behind my decision to not tie my happiness to the scale or focus on any individual body part but I never did stipulate that these were focused on those trying to lose those last few pounds. These vanity pounds can be any where from an extra 5-20 pounds. They are referred to as vanity pounds because your body is healthy and happy at a certain set point, and (especially for women) this includes extra fat stores. So when you want to lose those extra soft spots it’s purely for physical appearance not for health reasons. Nothing wrong with that, but so many people obsess over this and do not allow themselves happiness if their goals are not met. This obsession is seen at it’s extremes in those with eating disorders from anorexia nervosa, to bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. The reasons why someone develops an eating disorder have a very wide range but in the end it’s the number on the scale and the individual’s relationship to food that haunt them. This is my main reason for not wanting to recommend focusing on an unrealistic number on the scale. My personal solution is aiming for a healthy weight range, and putting my focus on performance goals rather than appearance goals in the gym.

 

The Opportunistic Money Makers

As soon as the ball dropped in NYC the weight loss product commercials began. There are so many products out there promising to be the magic fix or to make cutting calories easier. They won’t. From pills promising no-effort weight loss (but could potentially cause damage to various organ systems) or exercise machines promising to spot reduce fat(not possible), the products companies use to take advantage of your new year’s resolutions run the gamut of false promises. The problem with these products is that they introduce unwanted chemicals into your system. Chemicals that can wreak havoc on your metabolism and thwart your weight loss goals. Chemicals you would not ingest if you were eating whole foods prepared properly in your own (or a trustworthy) kitchen.

After reading this post you should see that there are no reasons for these products; real whole food combined with healthy habits and a dose of reality and appreciation when viewing your body are all you need. Use the money you would have wasted on these products to upgrade grocery purchases to organic, invest in quality vitamin and mineral supplements, or put it towards a reward that gives you joy and relaxation for all your hard work. *If you are truly stuck with more weight than deemed healthy, talk to your healthcare provider. In rare cases there could be a true disorder or side effect of medication causing you to retain the weight. But again, a product out there promising a quick fix won’t work*

 

What is your opinion of weight loss resolutions? What other tips and healthy habits might you add?