Do you use any of these words?
I hear them ALL THE DAMN TIME!! People use them as excuses and gold stars when they talk to me - like I have the power to send them to hell or give them a medal.
These words float around our food to make us feel better, worse, good or bad about the things we eat. As a nutritionist, I have the knowledge of the background of food - you know, where they come from, what their story is and how they can help YOUR body be better.
The Psychology of Food is deep and dark, but it doesn't have to be a total mystery. I always keep the dogma out of food. It doesn't need to be complicated or follow a certain path to be healthy. Food in its natural state gives nutrients to sustain life. Period.
Firstly, don't need to label them.
I had this conversation with a friend of mine last week:
Giving your food a label gives it life and personality, which can lead to it having an impact on you. It's food, not your girlfriend. It doesn't have feelings and when you label it comes to life and has a personality. This is when your relationship with food can get sticky.
It should be nutritious most of the time, but it doesn't have to be all the time.
When I think about my relationship with food, it has changed, but doesn't have a label.
If you have been following me, you know I eat what I want, when I want. I balance out my food with the whole > processed. But in life, everyday is practice.
Try this short activity:
Write your answers down.
How does food make you feel? (ex, Nervous, fat, bored, happy, depressed...)
Describe in one word, this week's food intake.
Describe in one word, your current diet, (last six months)
Are you following a diet?
Look at the list you have made. Are the words positive or negative? How do those words make you feel? Do they shock you?
You may not have the best relationship with food. You may be scared of your kitchen. You may just know how to prepare a few meals and need some inspiration - and THAT'S OK.
Opening up your mind to JUST EAT FOOD and not think about what other people think, say or do is the most difficult part of being yourself. It's easy to slap a label onto something so that others can relate to it, but when you JUST DO IT there doesn't have to be a reason. It just is.
You may need to completely change your way of thinking, but this will alleviate a lot of pressure. TRUST ME. You don't need to eat a certain way or be restrictive. Just follow these simple rules.
1. Eat food
2. Mostly plants
3. Don't forget the fat and protein
4. Make sure the whole out weighs the processed
(thanks Mr. Pollan)
Eating whole foods is the key to your health. Whole foods are nutrient dense; meaning they contain a great deal of nutrition per calorie, they fill you up and satiate your appetite. YOU control what goes into your meals. No additives and preservatives. No sugars or binders. You can substitute, have more or less of one item and really get creative.
Need help with inspiration? There are a gazillion recipe blogs out there that can help you with some inspiration. Or just google whatever you feel like eating and you will get pages of hits.
Or go rogue!
Step 1. Be prepared. Write a list of the things you want to get
Step 2. Go to the store.
Step 3. Prepare and eat.
Yes, this means you may be spending more time in the kitchen, but there are ways around this as well. Take Rachel Ray for instance, she made her empire starting with 30 minute meals. Who doesn't have 30 minutes to make a home-cooked meal from scratch? She does use some processed foods in her recipes, like canned tomatoes, pastas and broth but on the whole, her recipes are homemade and rich in whole foods.
YOU HAVE 30 MINUTES!!!
WHAT IS A PROCESSED FOOD?
Processed food was a result of The Industrial Revolution where food production became more mechanical and efficient to feed overseas military groups and ration those who stayed at home. The industry has progressed to a point where you can find almost anything in some sort of packaged form. But those delicious foods in packages on the shelves need to be preserved in some sort of way.
Look at anything that comes in a package and you will see varied amounts of ingredients. The aisles are filled with them. Anything that comes in a package has been processed, but there are good and bad processed foods. Here's the hint: look for the ones that have the smallest ingredient list.
I don't know about you, but I don't have all the time in the world to grow, stew and pack my own tomatoes for the winter. That's where processed foods come in handy. Knowing what lurks inside is the key to making better choices.
Low Sugar - No dextrose, maltodextrin, high-fructose corn syrup,
No additives - No natural colour/flavour, calcium chloride, nitrates, MSG, soy lecithin
No Over processed oils - Canola, Soy, Rapeseed, Soybean, Palm
And as the rule goes: if you can't say it, don't buy it.
FOOD. EAT IT in VARIETY.
I have a confession. I don't like quinoa. I am so over it. I don't the texture, the taste or how it smells when it spoils. Just because it's a plant-based "whole protein" (contains all essential amino acids) doesn't mean you have to eat it at every meal instead of rice.
Eat what you like. If you don't like kale, cauliflower or zucchini - don't eat it. But DO find the vegetable that makes you happy- try to not make it a starch.
Vegetables that cannot be eaten raw are STARCHES! These get converted into carbohydrates when eaten and are not the healthiest option.
BE ADVENTUROUS! Try a vegetable you haven't tried before. Try something that is weird looking. It may surprise you that it reminds you of something that you had once at that party you went to ;)
You may be thinking, "Yeah, it's so easy for you..." but really, it's not any easier. Yes, I do cook for a living, but it doesn't make it any easier. My meals are simple, mainly comprising of egg 80% of the time. Super simple. Protein + green vegetable, a starch a couple times a week.
I mention variety because it's true, everything in moderation. I see people that eat quinoa for months and months and then get sick and tired of it. Or those who eat handfuls of nuts to tide over the hangry pains. Protein bars until the end of time....the list goes on and on. I heavily believe in variety. Heavy variety.
But, I don't like leftovers. I don't like eating chicken everyday. I don't like the same salad. And I know that may sound like I have all the time in the world to create my meals - I don't - but my meals are simple.
Let's see....what have I eaten this week? Meatballs and broccoli. Cheese and Crackers. Eggs and Chinese broccoli. Ribs, rice and broccoli. Bone broth soup, no broccoli. I guess it's been a heavy broccoli week! I do love me some broccoli...but do you see what I mean? my meals are super complex. No stews, chilis or curries - though these are also pretty easy - super simple. Ten minute meals. Tops.
So just to recap:
Keep it simple
Eat real food. Mostly plants.
Watch the additives and preservatives.
Thanks for reading.
Until the next time,
Eat well. Work hard. Seize Wellness.