I had a conversation with a friend today about various topics and something came up that prompted this little rant/article. Hope you enjoy it...
Eating is personal...
Eating healthy, it sounds so cliché it makes me cringe to hear it. What is healthy anyway? You probably can’t go a day without reading or hearing about this diet or that diet or seeing someone’s food on Facebook. I know I can’t, I’m a nutrition coach after all. I’ve done research, read books, obtained certifications and I’ve coached a fair amount of people and have done quite a lot of self-experimentation when it comes to diet and exercise. I’ve learned one very important thing; there is no single way to eat.
Eating is personal. What works for you might not work for your friends or your family or clients or students. And just as there are differences between people, we each have different dietary needs at different times. Are you trying to lose weight and restricting calories? Vigorous weightlifting and high intensity exercise probably won’t work too well with that plan. Trying to elevate your physical performance? Elimination diets and cleanses and detoxes will not only kill your performance they may leave you extremely depleted, fatigued, lethargic and could even cause injury. Healthy for one person could mean disaster for another. This all depends on your personal circumstances and the desired outcome.
Finding the right way to eat, for each of us, can be confusing. Eat bananas, no don’t eat bananas they make you fat. Eat lots of meat and vegetables. No wait! Meat causes cancer don’t eat meat. These are just examples of course. With all of the conflicting information and an abundance of tasty food-like products loaded with sugar, fat, and salt, it isn’t any wonder that more than two thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-10). And for all the money we have spent on trying to figure out the right way to eat we are still lost.
When did we forget how to eat?
When did we forget how to eat? It might have something to do with a food industry that cares nothing about the health of its customers (and the 147 billion dollars spent annually on treating obesity related ailments) and instead cares only about consumer purchasing patterns. Or maybe it’s because animal and plant breeding and cultivation practices over the last 200 years or more have sacrificed flavor and nutrition for yield (profit) and uniformity. Left with bland food devoid of nutrition we have a flavor industry that has come to the rescue and can chemically concoct whatever flavor the heart (or wallet) desires and fool our brains into thinking we are eating strawberry yogurt, for example, and yet no strawberries were used in the “processing” of the yogurt. Even chicken, yep real, raw chicken, has to be flavored with chicken flavor because it is so bland (Schatzker, 2015). We have exchanged nutrition and health for pleasure and profit. I’d say its not working out so well.
So how do we remember what to eat? We have to dump the processed food-like products and cut way back on the things that kill our taste buds and make us crave ever more junk. You guessed it! Sugar! Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that foods like donuts and pizza are evil. They are perfectly enjoyable every now and then. The poison is in the dose. If these unnaturally flavored foods show up in your diet daily or even weekly, you are going to have a major flavor malfunction. In nature, sweet things contain tons of nutrients. Intense flavors are a signal to the brain and body that there is an abundance of nutrients available in this leaf or fruit or root or animal flesh. But once you introduce synthetic flavors that are more intense than those found in nature the flavor/nutrient relationship is uncoupled and the brain and body become confused and are no longer able to guide you toward health and wellness. You will crave more and more of the intense, non-natural flavor because your brain thinks that it is a rich source of nutrients.
When I started studying nutrition it never made sense to me that anyone should have to know what nutrients the body requires and what foods have protein and carbs and fat. Do you think that science books have always been around to teach people about their bodies and what foods they need to eat? We are endowed with a very sophisticated nutrient detection system; it’s called our nose. Have you ever had a cold and everything you eat is bland? That’s because you can’t smell the aromatic compounds in the food that are signaling flavor. Flavor is how we detect nutrients. Sadly, with synthetic flavor available, we want the wrong foods. To hear what your body is saying, you’ll have to make a conscious choice to reduce or eliminate the consumption of processed and synthetic food and start eating food that nature intended.
Need help remembering how to eat? Get in touch: email@example.com/916-756-5460.