What is REAL food anyway?
When it comes to healthy eating, with all the societal trends shifting from here to there on a weekly (and sometimes daily, it seems) basis, it’s hard to know up from down, right from left, and “good” from “bad.”
The diet trend in the 1980s was all about low-fat. Low-fat this, low-fat that – eschewing the sight of fat and working to completely eliminate it from our bodies. Models were wafer thin and we all snacked on low-fat cookies and diet soda. We drifted into a super low protein mode, as well, with the rise of vegetarianism and veganism in this country.
Then came the 1990s. Everything switched. We didn’t care as much about fat anymore, since it appeared that the low-fat trend was no longer working – (obesity rates in the US began to skyrocket around this time) – so we decided to bash another macronutrient and eliminate THAT from a so-called healthy diet: carbohydrates. Protein became the thing. Protein water hit the shelves and the bestselling books became South Beach Diet and the Atkins Diet. Much of the public was dropping weight like crazy and the supermodel craze became “fit” and “strong” instead of thin.
Towards the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, the shifts became more sudden, but also more frequent. Paleo, Whole 30, ultra low-carb, and then Keto – fat came back on board and rose to the top of the game and carbs went way under, again. Everyone and their mother was eating bacon and grass-fed butter and dousing their Bulletproof coffee with heavy cream.
And we are still struggling as a nation with our health – more than ever.
So, what should we do?
What is healthy eating and what is REAL food supposed to be anyway?
In all of society’s weight-loss gimmicks, there are four things in common:
- Severe (unhealthy) caloric restriction (you can eat all the carbs you want, as long as you stay in a caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight)
- Elimination/restriction of at least one macronutrient (i.e. carbohydrate, fat, or protein)
- Sales of processed foods to promote “that diet”
- Temperance – diets don’t work forever and those who lose weight following a “diet,” are more likely to gain back the weight + some
Thus, clearly diets are NOT the answer to weight loss, nor a healthy lifestyle. Who wants to keep track of macros, grams, ounces, etc. (what is a macro anyway?), starve ourselves of our favorite things, spend lots and lots of money on processed products, and then lose our salvation when we head straight back to the weight we can from, if not one or two pants sizes larger?
The answer is no one.
The answer is also REAL food.
Not only do all the “diets” out there offer restriction in some way, shape, or form, the creators are out there to make money – aren’t we all – and they involve highly processed foods.
That’s the kicker.
You know all those foods in the aisles of the grocery stores, the ones that have food labels with lists of unpronounceable ingredients a mile long? It’s THOSE things that are actually making us fat. FAKE food. “Franken-food.” Really. Truly. Added this to make it shelf stable, added thisto make it hold together, added thatto make it look okay, added thatto make is smell okay – but where’s the food? Why not just bake a potato and mash it with a little olive oil and salt instead of trying to recreate the latest diet trend in the form of powdered mashers?
Research shows that consumers with daily intakes high in processed foods are more at risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive issues, skin disorders, behavioral issues, and both anxiety and depression.
So, again, the answer to all of this mess: REAL food.
What is real food?
It’s fresh produce, fresh meat, beans, farm raised dairy and eggs, minimally processed grains and whole grain bread. It’s the stuff we see at Farmer’s Markets that LOOKS and TASTES so beautiful.
It’s the stuff that’s on the perimeter of the store – the stuff that has no ingredient label, because we can taste and see and feel exactly what it is!
Thus, in order to challenge yourself to truly nourish your body and feed it well, aim not for the stars, but the rainbow! Aim for all the colorful goodies, wholesome and true, located around the edges of the market. Don’t even enter an aisle if you don’t have to! And, go for whole-food items. One ingredient, maybe two. We don’t need a list for REAL food.