Food, shelter and sleep are pretty much essential human needs, right?
Sounds pretty simple: eat, sleep, and check the weather forecast.
And yet these things do not always come naturally to us. Shelter, we get for the most part, sleep we understand but certainly struggle with actually doing, and food, well, that’s a whole other ball game.
Food. We need it, we love it. It can be both our best friend and our biggest enemy. We know how to eat it, but we don’t know how to really use it.
Depending on what, when and how we eat, we get very different results.
Sadly there is not a lot of time and effort put into educating people about food, and much of what we do know is created and influenced by marketing and money, two things that almost never have a person’s best interests in mind.
The result is a lot of confusion about food and how to eat in a way that keeps us healthy, prevents us from gaining weight or allows us to lose unwanted weight.
I won’t pretend this is not a complex issue. It absolutely is and nutrition is so unique to an individual it is almost pointless to make any blanket claims about the right or wrong way to eat.
There are, however, ways to simplify nutrition that work for most people and generally allow you to be healthy, feel good and look the way you want without having to put a lot of time and effort into things.
I’ve narrowed this down to five “Food Philosophies” that will not only change your body but also could potentially, over time, have a dramatic impact on your life.
Fresh is always best.
The first thing you can do that has a dramatic effect on not just your weight but also how you feel, is to eat as much freshly prepared food as possible. This means buying groceries, cooking at home and not relying on fast food, packaged meals or restaurants.
Avoid packaged/processed foods.
These can be good in a pinch, but if your entire diet consists of foods that can only come from a factory, you’re probably missing out on vital nutrients that can only come from eating fresh foods. One good rule to follow is if you couldn’t grow or kill it, you probably shouldn’t eat a lot of it.
Learn about labels and be skeptical.
Unfortunately in this country you can’t trust the claims made by food companies. Misleading claims and even flat out false information is allowed on food labels. You have to be your own advocate and know what is true and what isn’t. Beware of packaging or wording used to make something appear healthy when it really isn’t.
Practice portion control.
One of the biggest issues we have in our society in regards to food is just the sheer size of our portions. Over-the-top restaurant servings and misleading package labeling has distorted our view of what an appropriate amount of food is. Even healthy food can cause you to gain weight if you are not mindful of portions. For example, 1/4 cup of almonds is a little more than a handful but contains over 200 calories. Now imagine grabbing a few handfuls at a time, which quickly adds up to over 600 calories!
In this case I don’t mean in your life, but actually on your plate. You want to eat a good balance of both macro and micronutrients. That means your meal should include not only fresh, nutrient-dense foods but also a variety of them; eat the rainbow of fruits and veggies, good starchy carbs like oats and rice, and healthy fats too such as olive oil and fish.
There is no one answer that is right for everyone when it comes to nutrition and what works best for your body. But applying these five rules is a good way to start along the path towards better health and creating a body that moves well, feels good and can generally handle the challenges of every day life.