This can be a very confusing question with all the information out there, accurate or not. The more I talk to people the more I realize what a great need for nutrition and health education there is. The majority just don’t know what they’re eating and why. Most eat out of pleasure, not health, and although this is not necessarily a bad thing, addiction to food that has been altered for just taste and texture is not how we should be pleasuring our palette. The difference is when you do this every day, all day, with all the wrong food. It is possible to eat healthy and also love the food you’re eating! I don’t know why people think that just because someone chooses to eat a clean nourishing diet, that they automatically assume they eat bland, gross food. The exact opposite is true. If my taste buds could talk, they would tell you how satisfied they are. The standard American’s taste buds cannot appreciate anything but salt, fat and sugar. The taste of REAL FOOD is something that most have not experienced. Processed food is altered by chemicals, pesticides, additives, toxins, MSG, GMO’s (check out, “Its Our Right to Know” to find out more about the dangerous of GMO) adulterated and refined oil, and then slathered in another chemical sauce, frosting, glaze, wax, sugar…It keeps going until the final product is so far from food that your own body doesn’t recognize it, and tries to get rid of it as fast as it can. Though because most of us eat these types of foods every day, our poor bodies cannot keep up with the accumulation of toxins, and we end up sick.
Which leads to the next question I get asked, “Is it possible to change my taste buds”? Of course! But this takes some time. Your buds have been exposed to these tastes probably since you were born when your first food was introduced to you. Remember what that was? Cereal, juice, rice…aka SUGAR! We grew up with this. That is why it’s comforting to us and we feel the need to eat something starchy with every meal, be it pasta, rice, bread…. We live in a nation addicted to sugar, very much like a drug. Have you ever tried to stay away from starchy/ sugary foods and experience headaches, dizziness, strong cravings? These are withdrawal symptoms, just like a drug addict needs their fix, most Americans “need” their fix of starch, something sweet or both.
Nutrition education and government guidelines are extremely outdated, and if you look closely, do not even have the research or science to back up their recommendations. This is not something to take lightly seeing that this is what the majority of Americans rely on for diet advice.
So what exactly should we be focusing on? Here are 5 simple rules to follow to get more out of your food and money:
1. Fresh, Local, Seasonal food!
That means that apples are not available all year around. There are people who would argue this, seeing that they are in our grocery stores all year around. That is because we import food from all over the world. It travels thousands of miles and in the process uses more fossil fuel, energy, causes more pollution, and by the time it reaches the stores, our kitchen and our mouth, it practically has no nutrition left. Fresh produce starts to lose its nutrients almost immediately once picked. If eaten after 4 days of storing, it will have already lost 50% of its nutrients, after 2 weeks 95% is lost! Many people take this long to finish their produce…don’t waste your money or these precious nutrients.
2. Organic and Raised with Care!
Organic is a word being thrown all over the place nowadays. You can even find organic cake mix, cookies, donuts…you name it. This is just silly to me. Unfortunately, companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are slapping this label on everything, knowing that consumers are wanting this. Please understand that just because something is organic, does not mean it’s a health food, good for you, or was made sustainably. Be choosy when buying organic food. Spend your money wisely on food that will nourish your body. When I say organic, I am talking about food that has been grown without pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and especially without GMO seeds. And don’t think farmers markets are safe. Make sure and ask your farmer how they grow their produce. Many of them spray! Although it’s always best to get your food from local sources, always ask questions. Ask if you can take a tour of the farm to see the condition of the crops or animals and see for yourself where your food is coming from. This will not only ensure you are getting the highest quality product, but are also educating yourself and gaining a better appreciation for the food you put into your body.
3. Whole, Unrefined Food!
The moment food is adulterated and modified, the moment its nutritional value is compromised. Focus on buying and preparing food from its natural state. This includes whole fat foods! Skip the low fat nonsense, these foods have had to go through an extra step or more in the process and have additional ingredients added to them that are not necessary. Get the real thing, your body will thank you for it. Get creative and learn how to make simple sauces and condiments. Find new dishes that challenge and wow your taste buds. Experiment with preserving your food by fermenting and culturing (See “What are cultured foods” and “Health benefits to cultured foods”). This is the easiest way of knowing you will always have healthy food on hand and will last almost indefinitely.
4. Properly Prepared!
This is VERY important, but almost always overlooked, even by other health practitioners. Food can be very hard for us to digest and even contain certain components that are not for our benefit. For example, all legumes, grains and nuts must be soaked overnight to release the phytates that they contain. Phytates will bind to minerals in our body and take them on their way out, leaving us more deficient in minerals than most of us already are. Some foods can cause digestive distress and literally rot inside of us because it cannot be broken down, causing all sorts of problems and imbalances if certain preparation is not done. When food is prepared properly, its nutrients become available and sometimes even enhanced.
This should go without saying, but when food is made at home (using the rules above), there is a 100% chance that it will always come out much more nourishing and always prepared properly. You are in control of your food and what goes in it, the quality that was used to prepare it and of course where it came from.
This may seem a little intimidating or overwhelming for most who do not live this way, but once you start to implement these rules and really live by them, you will feel and see the difference in your health and attitude. Real food not only nourishes your body, it nourishes your soul. There is an emotional component to food and meal time. If we continue to eat dead food, this has just as great of an effect on our attitude and outlook on life as it has on our physical being. When we consume life giving food, our mental state shifts to create clarity. This is because real food creates life and is more fulfilling, simply because it tastes better!
When you are properly nourished, you crave less, and therefore you eat less, and spend less! The body knows when it is satisfied and needs no more.
If you have other ideas or rules of your own you live by, feel free to share and post.