I don’t like rules.
Once in sixth grade I got in trouble and was assigned lunch duty which consisted of me spending my lunch hour picking up garbage off of the floor. I defiantly told the teacher that it wasn’t my job to pick up trash and it was my understanding that janitorial staff were hired explicitly for that purpose.
I was allowed to think about that little comment for an entire day while serving an in school suspension.
When it comes to our diet, there aren’t any hard and fast rules to follow because it seems none of the experts can agree on what it actually means to eat nutriciously. Soy apparently is a nutritional powerhouse and contains all the amino acids to form a complete protein and has been linked with preventing certain cancers. It has also been implicated in possibly increasing the risk of other cancers. Huh? What are we supposed to believe? Every single food, ingredient, and nutrient has been glorified and villinized, usually in separate studies that seem to be released in the same week.
Also, if I hear the term “superfood” one more time, I’m going to spit in someone’s acai juice.
There is no magic food, magic vitamin, or magic mineral that can cure of us of our diseases, including our own stupidity at believing every marketing gimick that is sprawled across all the packaged, processed foods we buy.
You might be wondering why I’m on this little tangent.
A while ago I read Michael Pollan’s Book “In Defense of Food” and more recently I picked up a copy of his companion book “Food Rules.” This is less of a book about strict dietary rules and more of a guideline for choosing healthy foods most of the time. It really made me take a hard look at my own eating habits and find ways I can make small improvements toward my goal of limiting processed foods. Some of my favorite “rules” include:
Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.
Avoid foods that have some form of sugar or sweetener listed among the top three ingredients.
Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made from a plant, don’t.
Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.
Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
Break the rules once in a while.
His basic philosophy is Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. We’ve forgotten how to listen to our bodies and eat what nourishes us. He points out that there are diets in the world that are high fat, low fat, high carb, low carb, high protein and low protein and no matter what other countries are eating, they have significantly less diseases than those who eat a western (read: American) diet. Scary stuff!
I personally believe that its not what we’re eating but how it’s produced and prepared that is wreaking havic on our health.
With that said, I find it nearly impossible not to consume processed foods during the course of a day. It’s all about balance and I’m still trying to find what works best for me.