information overload

21 Apr

Eating food.

Having a meal.

A quick snack.

It sounds so simple but unfortunately the recent surge in information about ‘healthy’ foods, what kind to eat, which to avoid, trans fats, organic, low glycemic, antioxidant etc. etc. etc. It’s turned out to be so much more confusing than it needs to be. It really is simple but the whole concept has been so convoluted by our own doing.

For example, the other day I saw a picture of a berry-flavored 7up and the subtitle on the bottle was “Antioxidants!” What this tells me is that this company is banking on the fact that putting this nutritional buzz word right on the front of this bottle is going to get the attention of the common buyer that seeks to be healthy, but may not have the real motivation to do it and in turn they will purchase the product hoping that drinking a new and improved soda with antioxidants will get them a little closer to their goal without having to sacrifice too much. Brilliant! But my question is, in what bizarre world has soda ever been considered a healthy option?

I feel like there is a huge marketing conspiracy going on here. The information we currently have about how to eat “healthier” is so free flowing and abundant, but yet we are still getting more obese and therefore, less healthy. I went to a seminar a few weeks ago and the speaker noted that some studies have shown that in the “beginning ages” the average man was at the health level of a modern triathlete we think of today, and that was just the average dude! Look at today; the majority of Americans are soooo far away from that! Modern conveniences have made us more dependent on technology and fast food joints which has made us lazier and less dependent on having to seek out and obtain our own food (hunt and gather). This (im)perfect storm has led to us being extremely unhealthy.

So where do we go from here? Well to be honest with you I highly suggest reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food if you haven’t already. The key foundations of this book are simple and exactly what I believe. They make complete sense to me, and luckily he doesn’t leave out his intelligent and slightly sarcastic quips to make the book even more entertaining.

If you don’t feel like curling up to a book, here are the ways that I decide what to eat. Most of these are pretty similar to what Michael Pollan states in his book and most operate on the basis of generally sticking with what our ancestors knew and how they survived.

For instance, they ate whole foods. Whole fruits and vegetables, handmade bread, full fat dairy. Minimally processed, real foods. I rarely eat pre-packaged foods. When I do, I aim for them to have a very short ingredient list and it is all in a language that I can understand. Basically the focus is to make as much of my food choices “whole foods”, or foods that are in the original form that they were grown.

Have balance and variety. It’s never good to have too much of one nutrient in your diet and not enough of another. For example, eating way too much protein or only ever eating one kind of fruit. When I decide what to eat, I try to have some protein (in the form of either animal protein, beans or legumes) some veggies and/or fruit and a little bit of carbohydrate like brown rice, crackers, etc. Plus, I try not to have the same foods every day. This insures that you are getting a variety of nutrients and vitamins necessary for all the processes your body needs to perform. Along with balance comes…

Indulge… but not too much. You have to treat yourself every once in a while. And you know what, if you make a meal out a few brownies every once in a while, then that’s fine too. You just can’t make this a daily habit.

Don’t stress about food too much. Once you get to a point that you have your “go-to” foods, and you know you like them and that they are minimally processed and of good quality, try not to obsess about food so much. I struggle with this one myself, but it’s not healthy to be worrying about food constantly. Like I said, if you are getting the variety and focusing mostly on whole foods, then you should not have to worry about your sporadic indulges. I will catch myself worrying about indulging too much or how I can’t have this or that but it really does me no good. As long as I mindful about what I am eating, listen to my body, I will know exactly when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop. 

If you choose to model your lifestyle after how our ancestors lived, this also includes activity. They had to hunt and/or work for their food. We definitely do not. It is just plain true that your body works better when you have regular exercise. To maintain weight and health 30 minutes 3-5 times a week is perfect. It doesn’t have to marathon training, but light jogging or walks everyday. I speak from experience. I’ve been on both ends of the work-out spectrum and things are just better to have regular activity.

If you can’t remember what I or Michael Pollan have advised, there are several companies and even grocery stores taking helpful and NOT confusing steps to help consumers out. If you haven’t noticed, Safeway has put together a new program called Simple Nutrition. They contacted me to see if I would be interested in checking out one of their stores and how the program works. I stopped into a local store and right away in the front I was met with a big stand alone sign that had in-depth information about the program. Several folks at the company did a review of all their items and judged them on a list of requirements. The items that made the cut that were “low in sodium” or “gluten free”, etc. are now labeled throughout the store to make shopping healthily even easier. With all my current restrictions in diet, I absolutely found this helpful. They even have a whole 4 ft by 8ft (?) section completely set aside for gluten free items! This program would be very helpful to a person who is starting out on a completely unfamiliar way of eating. Be careful though, because just because the tags say “low in sugar” does not mean that it should make up the whole basis of your meals, remember, BALANCE!!

The kind people offered me a Safeway $25 gift card to give out to readers to get you guys out there hunting down your own healthy meals! To be entered to win this little card of sunshine, you must leave a comment on this post telling me a simple step you can take to improve your health! To leave a comment, just click, “Leave a comment” on the bottom of the post. I will randomly pick a winner by Saturday 10 am (MST) and will mail it to the winner.

Good luck!!!

I’m off to clean our disgusting apartment and hopefully make some of my own deliciously healthy eats!!

Kaleigh

OH and P.S. This card can be also used at the following: Vons, Pavillions, Genuardi’s, Dominick’s Carrs, Randalls and Tom Thumb 🙂

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2 Responses to “information overload”

  1. Holly April 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    PLAN AHEAD! scheduling meals for the week has been such a lifesaver to eating healthy snacks and meals without being tempted to go out to eat or by the vending machines.

    awesome giveaway!

  2. Jamie DeWitt April 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Oh Kaleigh Friend! I love LOVE reading your blog! So yummy and inspiring! What a fun idea this giveaway is and I would love to win!

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