I can not stand it any longer. This article has been brewing beneath my blogo-genentics forever and I must compile my thoughts and notes and churn it out. I JUST got finished scanning an article about why PB2 (a powdered peanut butter) is BAD for you, because of blah blah de blah blah. (I use it because it blends better in shakes and it tastes amazing and YES IT HAS SUGAR IN IT but it’s better than a nutter butter or a Reese’s and regular /natural peanut (or almond etc) butter doesn’t blend as well). You know what? Just STOP it already! My article is not about PB2 or PB3 or PB780. This article is about the constant confusion we are creating within the nutrition industry for any “newcomers” who are researching on ways to get healthy! WE MAKE IT TOO CONFUSING.
If I were to heed all of the information that I have gleaned through the years, I would be in my son’s room contemplating how to make cricket salad from our Bearded Dragon’s , cricket stash, because that would be the only way I would avoid EVERY FOOD that polarizing nutritionists and health-nut bloggers are cautioning us against. Unfortunately, the extremist society that we live in is also the catalyst for over-eating and under-eating. I am constantly amazed that America seems to be in the top place for the scale of all eating disorders from obesity to anorexia. In my opinion, all eating disorders, stem from the same place. A need to control and fulfill our chaotic lives with control or lack of control. I can guarantee you that most anorexics, bulimics, obese individuals have endured some type of extreme trauma in their young adult lives (abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment – the list could go on). So instead of judging or churning out conflicting article after article about how horrible our food supply is for us, let’s try to churn out some positive information on how to help people make better decisions!
I’m going to list the various diets/food plans, etc that are currently in our society today an some of these might be culturally derived. I am in NO WAY SHAPE or form, belittling their existence. I admire each and every one of them for their individuality, creativity, and way to help people over come their ailments or find a healthier way of life. The reason I am listing them because I want you to pretend that you are 12 years old. You come from a family that eats poorly and drinks a lot of full sugared soda, and lots of over-processed foods. You want to get healthy, you can’t go to your parents because their eating habits are poor. You are given permission to google “various diets” and here are a list of diets/foods/ways of eating you find your self immersed in after a few minutes: Blood type, Skinny Bitch, Zone, Wheat Belly, Hollywood, Liquid,Paleo, Primal Vegan,Vegetarian,low carb/low calorie,Hallelujah,Adam & Eve, Cookie ,Breathatarian Weight Watchers, Meta fast, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, Ducan,Cabbage Soup,Grapefruit,Beverly Hills,Junk Food,Isralie Army ,Raw food and Subway. It took me approximately two minutes to find all of these diets, and there were at LEAST 200 or more listed. It is to be noted, that some of these are cleanses , diets and some of them are total ways of life. It is also to be noted that YES, there is a Cookie diet? a Junk food Diet and a Breathatarian diet which YES, all you do is breath. Some of these diets have similarities and some of them are polar opposites and to someone who is simply try to get healthier , it’s completely mind boggling!!!
I’m going to make it as simple as possible in two paragraphs or less. I do have certification in American Council in Exercise Science and a portion of my certification is based on nutrition and I have been down the exercise-binging-anorexia-self-loathing-yo-yo-crazy-diet-ville town-and-back. No, I haven’t lost 500 lbs or gained 500lbs , so I don’t know what that is like. But I was severely malnourished and underweight for a period of my life, (Also note you can be severely malnourished and overweight at the same time) and then I sky rocketed to an uncomfortable overweight place and I STAYED there for many years because I destroyed my metabolism. The reason I am telling you this? DO NOT MESS with what mother nature intended for you. We are all not built like Super models. I have genetically inherited things that 4 hours in the gym a day will not change. Use your intuition , get the facts from TRUSTED SOURCES, and do not go from one crazy place to another to lose or gain muscle mass or weight.
When you go to the grocery store, you need to load up in the produce aisle. Choose organic IF IT”S FINANCIALLY POSSIBLE. Look, I get it, I’m not going buy a 2 lb bag of teeny tiny organic apples at 5.99 a lb when , the Fuji crisps right next to them, at .99 lb because it fits my budget. Be smart. Select organic when it is possible for you. There are no fruits that are bad for you. If their is a diet that tells you that fruit is bad for you, it is wrong. (unless you are allergic, duh). Same goes for vegetables. Get what you want in this aisle and stock up. And If you do not like to skin/prep and dice, a prepared version of vegetables (no no, not in a butter sauce by Green Giant, we are still in produce aisle people!!!) and you live a busy life (ie carrots, bagged lettuce) that’s ok! Yes, it’s washed and it may have more “stuff” on it, than the un-bagged prepared lettuces and carrots, but it BEATS EATING A CAN OF PRINGLES, because you were not prepared! Use YOUR intuition and YOUR lifestyle as a gauge. For me, I HATE washing lettuce. So I try to get the triple washed lettuce. It’s more expensive, but I know I”ll eat it. In my next article I’m going to discuss extremely quick ways to cook and enjoy vegetables! Frozen vegetables and fruits are fine too, just make sure there is not a lot of other “stuff in there”, like that butter sauce that I mentioned earlier!!!
The big question. “Is Bread really bad for you?”. I can not answer that in one answer or one article. Jarod lost a ton of weight eating subway sandwiches. So this is what I will tell you. MODERATION. A piece of bread is not going to tank you. Toast with smart balance butter or natural peanute butter, is better than two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. When choosing bread, go for the least processed bread you can find, without hydrogenated oils and high fructose syrups. The brands that I know and trust are Peppridge Farm, Quaker, Kashi and if you are looking for flour free, Ezekiel Bread has a great product but it’s in the freezer and some people don’t like it’s super healthy, nutty taste (cough cough, some people being everyone in my family but me). Yes Ezekiel Bread tastes “healthy”, but I love it toasted with smart balance butter, drizzled with honey and banana etc.
When it comes to grains in particular, again, anyone could write a book or ten. Here are some simple rules. Go for the unprocessed grains,and beans the whole oats (slow cooking oats better), natural cereals (but look at the ingredients, make sure sugar is listed towards the end and try to find cereals sweetened with evaporated juices, or unrefined sugars. I would look in the natural section, be cautious of the granola (MY weakness) because it can be loaded with sugar and fat. I would read the ingredients and avoid hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and the less ingredients a product has, the better. IF the ingredients list takes up the entire side of the box and you can’t understand or pronounce 1/2 of the ingredients, walk away my child, walk away. As for beans, I do eat canned beans because of the convenience and I lead a busy life but it’s much better to buy them dry, soak them and cook them from a dry state. However, Moderation and do what you can based on your lifestyle!
“Oh my dairy, oh my dairy oh my dairy Clementine”. Look, diary is evil for some because of lactose. If you are already lactose or somewhat lactose intolerant , you know what to do! If you are clue less, I will give you a few pointers. Strive for organic milks, yogurts and cheeses. Personally for my family, I buy organic milk and regular cheese and yogurt. For myself, I drink mostly almond milk and eat tons of Greek yogurt (unsweetened , I will refer to sweeteners that are better for you than sugar in a moment) , and I do eat cheese in moderation because I love it. I would strive for cage free eggs, that aren’t all jacked up on whatever it is they could be jacked up on if they were caged in and given too much grain etc. As for cottage cheese, sour cream and all the others, choose wisely! Que so Dip, yeah, I get weak in the knees too with that word! Reward yourself with this one, but don’t make it a daily dinner thing ok?
Meats !!!. The wilder and freer the better. I do joke about free range chicken and grass fed beef with friends because, well, it does sound kind of “snooty” to be asking these questions, so I do not get nuts about it. My gam gam lived to 100 years of age and ate a wide variety of foods and is probably chuckling her head off at me right now. She also ate a ton of fruits and vegetables from a local farm, but I know the meat that we ate in the summers was not grass fed or free range by any degree because she always went for the cheapest section due to the affects the Great Depression had on her pocket book!. “Ok we got to eat this meat today, it expires in an hour!!!” If it’s more expensive, yes, it’s probably treated with less hormones etc. Here is my rule, I look for wild caught frozen fish, I search for the sales, I look for chicken that’s not treated, I would love to find more free range chicken, but for right now, I go for the best I can find and treated with the least amount of “stuff”, I do not by chicken nuggets any more, I choose ground turkey, and we only eat red meat in moderation and I avoid bacon and pork products most of the time because every time I eat them, I feel ill. Therefore, my body is telling me, that my stomach does not agree with pork and red meat, however I do not make that a rule for my family! Moderation for everyone else!. Again, rule of thumb? Lean Lean Lean, less is more! (less additives etc) with meats and stick to less than 6 ozs per serving!
Sweeteners! Sugar, in it’s purest form, is not horrendous. Even Sugar itself isn’t terrible for you , in moderation! (unless you are diabetic etc, then you probably are under a Doctors care in terms of your diet). Okay, so this is how I sweeten my yogurt and food that needs to be sweetened. Molasses, dark brown sugar, unrefined cane sugar, dark honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, and with fruit!. Do I use white sugar. Heck ya! I do use it from time to time. I’m not going to be making my beautiful, white delicious sugar cookies with brown sugar. It’s not going to happen. Moderation. Moderation. Moderation.
Indulgences – I get it, we got to have it. Choose wisely, drink cautiously. I do have my vices. I like my coffee and I use cream, and I have no desire to give up either. I like Propel and the Crystal Light Pure, and I drink coke zero , but I limit my intake. Yes, you know it, drink filtered water in it’s purest form as much as possible!!!
You do only live once, (unless you are on the edge of your seat for the premiere of the Walking Dead), so I choose to live a balanced life and eat “clean”, 70 to 80% of the time and the other 20 to 30% of the time, I’m going to eat what appeals to me, regardless of what new book is out on the addictive qualities of grain or some Skinny B from Manhattan knows about food. Those authors are not my stomach, my brain, my experiences, my body. Stay Moderate my friends, stay true to YOU and YOUR HEALTH and let me know if I can help out in any way with getting healthier and living a full, happy life!!