Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eat food.

My friends often come to me with questions about health and nutrition.

Is [insert brand here] healthy? Will [insert food here] make me fat?

The truth is this: there are a lot of different versions of healthy. Some people think animal products are unhealthy, while others think fat is unhealthy. There are those who think carbs are the devil or who swear by diet frozen dinners.

There is not one universal truth when it comes to choosing healthy foods, unfortunately. While I will give you my personal opinion, keep in mind that it is just that -- opinion. I do not think that this way of eating works for everyone universally, nor do I think that anyone who disagrees with me is stupid, misinformed, or unhealthy. It is simply what makes most sense to me and aligns with my body and lifestyle. So here goes...

I tend to subscribe to Michael Pollan's Food Rules. His premise is basically summed up like this:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That's his line, not mine. The rest of his book goes on to explain this sentiment. But essentially, that's it. 

And friends, he's just saying it a different way, but the message is always the same. You want to get thinner? Eat and exercise right. You want to bulk up? Eat and exercise right. You "just want to tone"? Eat and exercise right. Want to just be healthier? Eat and exercise right. 

There's no secret or magic pill or supplement that you're missing out on. All the healthy people in the world aren't eating the new magic superfood that isn't available in your local grocery store which is the reason you're out of shape or unhealthy.

So, what is food? Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and grains. If it was once alive or grew from a tree or the ground, it's food.

One of my favorite rules of his: If it grew on a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

In terms of processed foods: milk, cheese, deli meats, cookies, pancakes, granola bars, cereal, bread, mixes, sauces, and anything else found in the center of the grocery store, I try to either make it myself or buy something with as few ingredients as possible. 

I don't [usually] buy sweets from the grocery store (this excludes chocolate, for some reason, but my addiction to that is waining), but bread, chips, tortillas, and sauces are all scrutinized for their ingredients. I aim to buy things with either less than five ingredients or all recognizable and desirable ingredients. Salsa, for example, usually has more than five ingredients, but they're usually ones I recognize: tomatoes, onions, spices, and peppers (I skip the ones with sugar added). I usually buy brown rice or corn tortillas over GF bread because of all the ingredients.

So, this is the standard that I try to live my life by. I do say TRY. Because it isn't always easy and I do veer from it. Like last night, when I made pizza on Udi's GF crust. Clearly, I don't strictly adhere to this way of eating, but it is my goal.

So, there you have it. That's my personal food philosophy. Feel free to reach out with questions and, as always, have fun being bad.