Eat Real Food, For all the Right Reasons
We live in a culture of fast, flavorful and fattening. We are growing not just by the number, but by the pound, and obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic. We are “starving” ourselves fat and grasping at straws to find a solution. We have a desperate dichotomy of desire for thinness and the inability to maintain even a healthy weight. We often lack discipline, do not like/love what we feel or look like, and can’t delay gratification. We may even get more pleasure in a moment of eating than a lifetime of feeling good and being healthy. Can you relate?
Personally I have felt all of these things; the unhealthy desire to be thin, the inability to love my body as it is and the out of control feeling that having cravings and lacking discipline results.
Yet, there is freedom in healthy eating. If you can get over the hump and just start to choose differently, cravings and feeling out of control can subside. With a change in diet, you can feel good, look good and have fewer health problems. Developing standards in your diet can provide you with food choices you may not have thought about or discovered before – it can open your world.
Follow these simple steps to begin your journey to health:
• Eat mostly fresh, un-packaged foods:
You have probably heard this before: pick items on the perimeter of the grocery store. You will find more fresh, life-giving foods in the produce, meat and dairy sections of the grocery store. Fresh is always best! There are many more nutrients found in foods that have not been processed.
Your body wants and needs these nutrients; the more the better. As I mentioned before, we are actually “starving” ourselves fat by depriving ourselves of the nutrients our bodies want, causing cravings and perpetual eating of more processed foods to fulfill this need. So, buy fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood and dairy and use packaged foods as supplements or for an occasional in-a-hurry meal only.
• Eat real food only!
If you must eat packaged foods, get really good at reading ingredient labels. I’m not talking about the nutritional facts, with calories and fats. I am talking about the list of just what is in the package and what you will be eating – the list of ingredients. It is so important to know what you are eating. Choose only those brands that have real food whose names you recognize. If you don’t know what a word is in the ingredient list, then you might not want to eat it.
Steer clear of labels that have artificial ingredients, food colorings, preservatives and monosodium glutamate (msg). The terms “natural flavorings and spices” can mean a host of things including msg, so avoid foods with that on the label. There is usually at least one brand at the grocery store that is more natural. For example, if you are buying a can of beans, pick the label that reads “beans and salt” only. Add your own spices and flavorings at home.
• Eat sugar consciously and sparingly:
Sugar is one of those foods that is in just about everything, including processed salt! There are many different forms of sugar, ranging from the highly processed high fructose corn syrup (hfcs) to more mineral-rich, dehydrated cane juice. Eat sugar only when you decide to eat dessert. Make a conscious decision to eat it. Otherwise, you will be dosing up on it all day long and not even realize it. Your pancreas begins to suffer when it has to process sugar all the time, and diabetes and blood sugar issues are rampant these days. Enjoy sugar when you decide to have it. Don’t waste time, calories or your health on subpar or hidden sweets. Make it good and choose quality desserts, when and only when you want them!
• Make a commitment to eating vegetarian foods when at a restaurant:
Have you seen the movie “Food, Inc.” ? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it! It will change the way you think about your food and how it is raised. If you are a meat and dairy eater, organic, grass fed, free-range and hormone-free is best. Your body will be better able to utilize the fats, and less will end up on your rear end. The reason for this is because grass-fed animals produce more healthy, useable fats than animals raised on high glycemic grains. Most restaurants buy factory meat because it is cheaper. Unless you are at a farm-to-table restaurant or one that serves only organic meats, choose the safer, vegetarian option instead.
• Think about your needs. What is really making you want to put food in your mouth?
We need to eat real food. We need to eat to survive and thrive. However, many of us eat for other reasons in addition to the need for nutrients and calories. When we are bored, lonely, depressed, sad, happy, etc… We eat to reward ourselves, to celebrate and for sensory pleasure. Food is a fun and beautiful experience to partake in, and we should thoroughly enjoy these occasions. Our health will definitely suffer if we indulge for any and all reasons, though.
Slow down, check in with yourself and discover why you are taking that bite, and the next, and the next. Food cannot solve your problems or make them go away. After you eat that pint of ice cream or bag of cookies, you will still have the same issue but with more added pounds. If you eat for boredom, take up a hobby or go running around the block to shake things up. Meditation is good for that inner restlessness that can drive you to eat. If you eat for sadness, try writing about your feelings or take some time to have a good cry. Attempt to actually meet your needs as opposed to masking them with the temporary gratification of food.
Eat Real Food for the Right Reasons
Just by following these simple rules, you can begin to reclaim your health, have more energy and get more benefit out of your food. Get supported by a friend or wellness coach if you have trouble implementing these suggestions. Remember, YOU are worth taking the time to feed yourself well!
To learn about reading food labels, check out this post.