I work in a grocery store, am certified in plant-based nutrition through e-Cornell from Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and have changed my food choices to fit my human organism’s need. Food is a passion for me. I investigate ingredients as a hobby. I find ingredients I don’t recognize as food that have lots of consonants and very few vowels and I look them up. I am a self-proclaimed food geek.
Not only do I see a lot of food, like hundreds of thousands of dollars of food every single day, I also see the marketing behind it, the fads certain diets create, the evolution of food items and most importantly, I see who is buying that food. Working where I do has afforded me a great deal of visual data. So many consumers are buying in accordance with these fads and marketing but are not really aware of the impact it makes on their health or our planet.
First a quick analogy: When one is purchasing a pet, the first thing is get everything to make said pet flourish, right? I know when I got my little Martha, I made sure she had a bed, toys, a good veterinarian, and of course, food–avoiding all the junk ingredients that might not be good for a 5 pound Chihuahua. And so we should be following suit for our human selves–well, except for the good veterinarian part.
But there are so many “diets” to sift through that the task of finding out what we should eat and what we actually eat differs greatly. Rethink diet. Diet is what we eat daily, not some limited time frame and limited food choices to lose weight. We need to learn about what our organism’s dietary needs are and follow that. Our diet should not be difficult to adhere to nor should it be difficult to maintain. Again, the dog example. Do you constantly change-up your pooch’s diet or impulse buy Rover something completely devoid of nutrients knowing it will cause digestive issues? Hopefully not. So why do we do that to ourselves.
First, let me say that all these various diets can be modified to include crappy food. It’s apparently something we people are good at doing to any diet which is deceiving ourselves back to old habits under the guise of making better choices that eventually are so far off track that we’re back to eating lots of processed items like most of Americans.
Baked chips instead of fried chips, protein bars instead of cookies, diet drinks instead of sodas are all bad ideas for eating healthy. Baked chips are still chips–no fiber, lots of salt, acrylamides (browning starchy foods has carcinogenic results. I know! I’m not happy either), all of which are processed foods. Protein bars can be a meal replacement but are hardly filling. That means that eating them will put another 200+ calories into your system and you will not be sated in the least. Most protein bars, while offering protein–a nutrient we are never deficient in here in the states, usually contain sugars and isolates of various proteins which are some of the most processed foods you will eat. And diet drinks? Sure, maybe you avoided the calories, but what chemicals are you putting into your one and only body? Even plain sparkling sodas are more on the acidic scale than alkaline, if you’re into that realm of concern.
Let’s take the Paleo diet, because I think that’s one of the dumbest (yes, I said dumbest). This is basically a revamped version of Aitken’s, by the way. Why is it dumb? Because humans have created a line of paleo products that paleo peeps never ate 32,000 years ago, like paleo tortillas! You want to be paleo? Eat completely unprocessed foods because I can say without a doubt, that is what they ate. Go outside, look around, and feast. Animal protein was included but I’m sure not daily as that would be quite an energy expense running after animals all day. And how much animal products could one process in a day? As in ingest as well as butcher! Gross.
In grocery store land, I see people cart their groceries to check out and in one purchase get: chicken, steak, jerky, eggs, cheese, some fruits, some veggies, paleo muffins, paleo bread, paleo cookies, paleo pizza, paleo cereal! STOP THAT IS CRAZY!!! And the cost to one’s health and pocketbook are high. Lots of sat fats in this diet which is something we should limit to no more than about 140 calories out of a 2000 calorie a day diet (and this is according to the American Heart Association that uses sponsorships from the meat and dairy industries. Watch “What the Health” if you want to know who or what subverts our best intentions with food http://www.whatthehealth.com).
Gluten-free diets are another money pit. Want gluten-free? Live in the produce department. All gluten-free baked goods are more highly processed than its wheat or grain counterparts. Meaning, that gluten-free piece of cake probably has almost twice the amount of calories than a typical gluten-laden cake. I have asked customers why they are eating gluten-free and they respond with “gluten is not good for you”. Really? Gluten is a protein from grains that SOME people can’t digest making it not good for THEM. Again, this is from processed foods anyway–something we should limit.
Then there is all the advertising we must wade through about milk doing good things to your body (not specifically outlining those good things) or meat, being what is for dinner (that’s it? Meat?). Do we enjoy being used for others’ gain as in that of the dairy and meat industries? Do we research what our human bodies need or do we take the word of advertisements? Or just get what’s on sale? Is that dollar menu so enticing that we cannot control our primal urges to indulge until we bulge? Do we believe one fast-food restaurant is better than another because they close on Sundays? What should we eat? How should we eat?
First, our bodies need minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, fiber, and water. We get all of these items from veggies, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds. Period. If you never ate another dead animal or their derived products, you would still get enough protein to keep you from experiencing kwashiorkor (the word for protein deficiency you probably have never heard because we fortunately don’t experience this deficiency in our society. We do however have deficiencies in minerals and vitamins! Just eat food that is as close to nature as it is possible. And eat until you feel full. No formulas. No point systems. So when you see that box with an ingredient list, and it is indeed a list, put that box back on the shelf and wander on over to the produce department if your quest is truly to eat as healthy as possible.
Going out to eat should be no different. All restaurants have to show you what they put in your food. Do you really want to eat mold inhibitors? MSG? Anti-foaming agents? Do you want meats that were raised inhumanely so you can enjoy all that fear that consumed that animal before you consume it? Do you want artificial colors and other non-food ingredients? Do you want to heal your body? Or terrorize it, make it work harder and make pooping an unsatisfying and broken-hearted non-event?
Don’t get bogged down into particulars worrying about consuming too much spinach or broccoli. I don’t think your worry is necessary here. I mean, a pound of broccoli is A LOT! So don’t eat a pound of broccoli–throw in some other veggies, like carrots, sprouts, romaine, enjoy a potato. Chew your food completely to allow maximum digestion. Eat a rainbow of lightly cooked and raw veggies daily, about 2 pounds according to Nutritarian guru, Dr. Joel Fuhrman author of Eat To Live. Eat a wide variety of grains, beans, seeds, fruits. If you enjoy meats, reduce your intake (just in terms of sustainability, we should cut back for the sake of the planet). Get your fats from whole plant sources like avocados, nuts and seeds because there are other important nutrients and fiber necessary than just taking in a tablespoon of pure fat of coconut or olive oils. Protein is in everything so if you eat enough calories you will get enough protein. You may not feel as full (you’ll be full just not stuffed) as when you ate a ton of meat, but you will be fed on a nutritive level. And, you will acquire your correct weight by eating what is truly appropriate for your human self. It will just happen.
Sites that I have found helpful, informative, and support a healthy plant-based diet include: http://www.engine2diet.com; http://www.drfuhrman.com; http://www.drmcdougal.com; check out YouTube videos by Jeff Novick RD, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Doug Lisle. Find excellent recipes at all these sites and others like: http://www.theppk.com or http://www.fatfreevegan.com or for some next level menu of plant-based foods, check out the Sarno Brothers at http://www.wickedhealthyfoods.com