Food can be a very powerful tool not only for combatting disease, but also for feeling energized, pain free, and happy in our lives. Most of the chronic diseases that plague our world today are completely preventable and maybe even reversible if we ate (and lived) to nourish our bodies instead of only our taste buds. Our bodies are made of millions and millions of cells that depend on very specific nutrients to survive. When the diet contains too many unnatural or overly processed foods, our cells not only miss out on the nutrients they need, but they are also damaged by the toxins we ingest. If our cells aren’t healthy, our bodies cannot be optimally healthy. Sometimes this means we are diagnosed with a medical disorder, but other times it means we just don’t feel as good as we could. Either way, eating to improve our cell (and therefore body) function is an important part of maximizing wellness.
As great as it sounds to eat a wholesome, nourishing diet, I realize it can often be a daunting task. Our society is relatively obsessed with food. From advertising campaigns to talk show topics to social media posts and even our own day to day conversations, food is often the focus of our attention. Opinions, tips, new fads, and marketing ploys bombard us each day and can overwhelm us to the point of giving up on trying to eat healthfully. While talking about food and nutrition are important, information overload can be costly. One article says don’t eat too much fruit while another says eat nothing but fruit. Your best friend swears carbs are bad while your doctor says to eat whole grains for heart health. Some experts say give up all animal products while others recommend eating meat 3 meals a day. Meanwhile, we’re left second guessing all of our food choices, getting frustrated, and feeling guilty about eating almost anything.
Let’s go back to the basics and simplify our food rules. I think Michael Pollan said it best in his book In Defense of Food: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” So, eat food that comes from Mother Nature, not a big factory; eat only as much as you need to feel comfortably full; and consume the majority of your calories from various kinds of plants. These are food rules upon which even the experts (except those who are paid by the processed food companies!) can agree. Try not to let marketing gimmicks and contradictory media stories confuse you. Most of these are indirectly trying to sell you something anyway.
However, we still have some confusing decisions to make: should I eat meat? dairy? carbs? How about grains or corn? Answering these questions is where different diet philosophies come into play, and each of them will tell you something a little bit different. In March's edition of "The Wellness Word" newsletter, I take some time to describe some of the most popular diet styles, discuss their specific pros and cons, and talk about a few things they all have in common. My hope is that by understanding the basics about each dietary philosophy, you can better interpret the food information you receive and, therefore, make more educated and confident choices for yourself.
I teach, write, and talk a lot about wellness and try to live as an example. But the truth is that we all live in the real world where making healthy choices is not easy. Implementing changes into real life is hard. This blog is a compilation of recipes, tips, and tools to help incorporate wellness into daily life. Some come from my own personal wellness journey while others have been shared by clients, friends, and family. We're all learning together so please share your own tips as well!