My thoughts on nutrition revolve around eating whole foods. People lived for years and years on the foods that nature provided - plants and animals. They didn't need Fiber One Bars to stay regular because surprise, surprise - fiber is found in plants! They didn't need Kashi Go Lean Cereal that is marketed as "as much protein as an egg" because they had eggs. Eggs are a nutrient dense source of protein, and there is no processing or weird additive ingredients.
Nature provides us a complete source of nutrients, and when we are nutrient-seekers, we can meet all of our needs without relying on boxed and packaged foods. I'm not saying processed foods are "bad," but choosing whole foods more often gives us essential nutrients that the 100-calorie snack packs do not provide.
Many people choose foods because of the "health claims" that are marketed. Don't fall for the marketing tricks! Foods fortified with omega 3s are not a better choice than omega 3s in salmon or other fatty fish. There's plenty of research that shows it's the synergy in the natural food that matters more than the one nutrient. Nature designs our food for optimal absorption! It's always better to eat the natural food over the fortified food or supplement.
Real food provide exactly what we need to absorb the nutrients in it. For example, salmon is loaded with vitamin D (that sunshine vitamin), which is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is also loaded with good fats to help us absorb vitamin D. When products are fortified with vitamin D, they may not be absorbed as well.
So, what should you eat? Here are 3 Simple Steps to Eat More Real Food.
1.) Find a farmer's market.
Farmer's markets are now found year-round, and you can buy a majority of local produce, meat, eggs, cheese, and more often for similar or cheaper prices than a local co-op or Whole Foods. I buy local, pasture-raised eggs at my farmer's market for $5/dozen compared to Whole Foods that sells them at $7! When grocery shopping, shop on the exterior aisles rather than the interior aisles that are filled with processed and boxed foods.
2.) Fill up your cart with 1-ingredient foods.
Broccoli is broccoli.
Almonds are almonds.
Wheat thins are: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron,Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Defatted Wheat Germ, Cornstarch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt,Monoglycerides, Malt Syrup, Buttermilk, Leavening... (the list goes on)
Look for ingredient lists that are small and understandable. If you can make it at home, even better.
3.) Eat what makes you feel good inside and outside.
Food should give you energy and make you feel healthy. Food should not lead to low energy, pain, cramping, headaches, cravings, bloating, and other symptoms. This means you have to find out what foods work well for you and what foods do not. Some deemed "healthy" foods may cause you to bloat up like a pregnant lady or give you excessive gas, and these are definitely signs that your body does not like these foods! Listen to your body's cues.
It also means to enjoy those pleasurable foods that make you feel good - mine being chocolate. Restricting foods just leads to a cycle of craving, giving in, and guilt, so enjoy those foods with moderation. Learn how much chocolate (or ice cream, wine, etc.) you can have to feel good without overdoing it.
Eating whole foods may require more time food shopping and cooking, but the benefits of health, energy, and happiness outweigh the negatives. It may seem "more expensive," but when you replace the processed foods, take-out, and frozen meals in your cart with whole foods, the price may be equal, or even less. The savings in the long-term is huge when you do not have to pay for medications and health care bills.
My recipe for health and energy is whole foods...with a daily dose of chocolate.