We need to eat real food. No fast foods. No junk foods. No processed foods. Just honest, nutritious, real food.
It seems that everywhere I look there is an expert touting a certain food "model" (low-carb, low-fat, low-glycemic, Mediterranean, Paleo, Keto, vegan, etc.) as the correct way to eat healthy - only to turn around and find another equally credentialed expert touting something different. While everyone agrees that diet is extremely important to health and well-being, they can't seem to agree on what actually is the best diet.
Oftentimes, these food systems have many rules that are annoying, confusing, and possibly even dangerous. And I believe that this is the reason so many people give up on trying to follow nutrition advice altogether and just close their eyes and eat whatever tastes good to them - often resulting in poor heath and disease.
"You don't have to be a scientist to know how to eat."
~ Michael Pollan
In my opinion, eating healthy doesn't need to be so complicated. I LOVE food and I believe it is meant to be enjoyed. And it shouldn't require intensive study, calorie counting, or complicated calculations to figure out what you should eat and shouldn't eat. The holistic nutrition food philosophy that I was taught and have found to be successful for myself and my clients is really pretty simple: just eat real food!
Real foods are grown, hunted, or foraged - whole foods in their most natural state. This means they are unrefined, not processed or only minimally processed, and unadulterated without additives or preservatives, the way nature made them. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and animal foods including beef, fish, poultry, pork, and eggs are all whole foods. Animal proteins are pasture-raised and wild, and produce is local, seasonal, and organic. These are the types of foods that our great grandparents would have recognized and eaten.
Selecting real food is simply about avoiding modern agricultural methods (pesticides and GMOs) and manufacturing processing (removing fiber and including sugars, bad fats, and numerous additives - many that cause the product to be addictive for their soaring profits!), and instead going back to the basics. It's about letting go of current diet and food fads and trusting the wisdom of nature instead.
Ideally, we should be purchasing single-ingredient foods. Although you should know how to read food labels, most real food doesn't come with a label so the real food kitchen will house very few packages and labels. Most items come straight from the source - and we should always know and trust that source.
"When you eat whole foods and avoid foods that are heavily processed, you are way ahead of the game and your health will soar."
~ Ty Bollinger, 22 Ways to Cancer proof your life Today
SHOPPING FOR REAL FOOD
The general rule of thumb is to shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the inner aisles. The outside is usually where the real food is stocked.
Produce - if you are choosing real food, the produce section will be where you spend most of your time.
Dairy - IF you choose to consume dairy products, then look for full fat, organic, and preferably raw.
Eggs - aim to purchase organic eggs from pastured chickens who roam in the grass and scratch in the dirt.
Meat/Fish - be sure to select only organic meats (hormone and antibiotic free) and wild-caught or sustainably farmed seafood.
Beans/Legumes - choose organic dried beans and legumes or keep a supply of canned beans on hand for busy times - just remember that most canned goods contain BPA.
Nuts & Seeds - purchase in small quantities from the bulk bins so you keep your supply fresh to avoid rancid oils.
Grains - IF you choose to consume grains in your diet, then look for unrefined, whole grains in the bulks bins as well.
Natural Sweeteners - Raw honey and pure maple syrup in moderation.
While I'm not strictly gluten, dairy, or sugar-free, I do generally find that I feel better overall when I avoid them and find it valuable to give them up while participating in the seasonal Nutritional E-Cleanse Program. This practice helps me stay clear on how much of those I can eat and still feel balanced and healthy.
And, just for the record, I still give myself permission to consume an OCCASIONAL, excellent quality "treat" that isn't considered real food, but it's the exception - not the rule, and they definitely don't live in my house!
Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally with coaching, compassion, and humor.