7 Principles for Real Food
in a Fast World
We live in an incredibly fast paced society! I hear people all the time say they can’t afford to eat healthy, or they just don’t have the time to do so. It can be overwhelming! My purpose is to show you how you can afford to eat healthy and how you can do it in less time.
Additionally, we have an overload of food choices and conflicting nutrition information. Who can we rely on for the truth? Much of our information is based on fads, or propaganda from the food industry who is understandably looking for greater profit. We need to train ourselves to think reasonably and logically about our food choices.
That brings me to my seven guiding principles for Real Food in a Fast World. We will discuss each one in more depth as we evaluate and apply them to different foods and food groups in future posts.
#1 Don’t Mess With Mother Nature
I do love nature and I keep relearning this simple truth: nature rarely gets it wrong. While industry and technology have done a remarkably good job of combatting the more scary parts of nature (for example, when was the last time the black plague took out 50% of a major city as it did in days of old?), such inventions almost always come with a price. Perhaps it’s just a yin and yang phenomenon, but almost every advance in food technology is offset by an equally (and often silent) negative consequence.
Here's the ironic truth: humanity's attempts to solve various food "problems" (such as pasteurizing all harmful bacteria from poorly managed dairy products) are often the very things that give birth to new problems with our food. Whether it's nutra-sweet or force-hybridized wheat, industry's solutions to our food "problems" create larger issues than the ill they attempted to cure. Where possible, consume whole foods in the form and shape that God created them.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one of my favorite books, illustrates how nature usually gets us back when we mess with it. Nature always gets it right. That doesn't mean that all that nature produces is good for us, but rather that all counterfeits that humanity produces fail to measure up to the quality that nature produces.
We need to carefully weigh the benefits and costs of all things man creates before blindly ingesting it into our bodies.
#2 Beware of Big Business and Mass Food Production
It's hard to argue with the economic value of the the Industrial Age--with its focus on efficiencies and mass production. It has raised the standard of living across the world. That said, better economics has come at a price. Mass, un-organic food production--though efficient and economic--has proven time and time again to produce all types of Trojan Horses in our food supply. I will discuss this in more depth, as we examine the effect of big business on fats, dairy, and grains. The negative effects of mass food production by big business has been artfully and soberly chronicled in Robert Kenner's landmark documentary, Food, Inc. (available on Netflix).
I own a business, and I'm fiscally conservative. I don't hate one-percenters, and I'm not picketing on wall street anytime soon. That said, I've learned to be very wary of any claims made by big business and organizations supported by them when it comes to my food consumption. I accept that their primary motivation is profits and creating shareholder value rather than my well-being.
#3 Employ Variety and Moderation
Variety and moderation are key. When we focus too heavily on one food group, or eat food in an unnatural way, we run into problems. For example, flax is a phyto-estrogen. If you consume too much flax, you can develop complications. For example, men can grow breasts. Spinach is good for you, right? Sure , but over-consumption of spinach can cause kideny stones. Too much kale? You can develop hypothyroidism. So, lets mix it up folks.
You’ve heard the phrase "eat a rainbow of vegetables," which means: eat a variety of kinds and colors. Each has a unique nutrient profile. The same is true of our diet. We need to include a variety of foods from different food groups, as each is very important to our health.
When we exclude an entire food group from our diet, where do we make up for the lost nutrients? Dairy and grains are so 1980's, right? They've become the anti-fad, and have been eliminated from the latest and greatest diets. Tragically, we have thrown the baby out with the bath water when it comes to dairy and grains, and by eliminating them from our diets completely, we have lost all kinds of unique nutrient profiles for which we can’t possibly make up by focusing more on another food group.
When we take care of our body, it takes care of us. When our body is properly nourished with a well-rounded diet, including plenty of variety, we don’t have to worry about what our pH is, or what our body type is, or any number of the other diet methods that can be overwhelming. We don’t need to reach for supplements. We naturally get what we need in our diet and it all works in a very symbiotic and harmonious way, resulting in better immune response, better emotional health, a more healthy weight and greater energy.
#4 Bad, Good, Better, Best
We don't live in a perfect world and our food choices are increasingly imperfect. Sometimes we don't have the time or the ability to choose the "perfect" food for a given situation. For example, eating vegetables is (Good.) Eating organic vegetables is (Better.) Eating organic, non-hybridized vegetables that you grow yourself, so you know exactly how they have been grown and handled is (Best.)
In the absence of the best option, you need to settle for the next best thing. We can’t always make perfect food choices. But we can do our best with what we have and what we know. When evaluating a particular food, think of it in terms of "Good, Better and Best." Sometimes, the best we can do is “Better.” But we can keep working towards “Best.”
# 5 Don't Throw the Baby out with the Bath Water
There are good and bad versions of most foods. Too often we assume an entire food group is bad because a negative health trend has been observed within a food group, and then we jump to faulty conclusions.
For example, most recently there has been an epidemic of people who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance. We've also notice other negative effects that grains may have on people. From this, we make the assumption that all grain is bad and should be removed from our diet. We have done the same with many other foods such as fat, salt, dairy, and carbs.
We need to look a little closer. If a particular food, or good group is causing a problem, perhaps the food is not bad, but what has been done to that food is the real issue. For example, has it been genetically modified, hybridized, processed etc.? Can we get it in a more natural state?
#6 No one Elected You as the Food Police
You've made the decision to eat healthier. Good for you! However, I am going to issue a big warning here: OTHER PEOPLE HAVE NOT MADE THE SAME CHOICE! Every person is not at the same point along the healthy-living spectrum as you are. Some people are further ahead and some people are way behind, not ready to give up their sodas, Fruit Loops and Oreos, and that is perfectly ok. We can create so much drama and hurt feelings by expecting others to have the same paradigm about food that we do. It truly isn’t worth it. Eating some white bread at a party is a lot better than being a rude, insensitive jerk. It is not your job to tell everyone how to eat. We are all going to die, better to die unhealthy, than die a healthy Food-Nazi.
#7 Take Your Own Journey a Step at a Time
We can easily get too consumed with eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We need to take care of our bodies, but it is easy to become obsessed: we cannot save ourselves no matter how healthy we eat. WE WILL ALL DIE!
I know a lot of people who were raised in a families with strict rules about food and what should and should not be eaten. A lot of these same people have some very serious eating disorders and a poor relationship with food. Food should be a happy thing. So much of life centers around food. It should be delicious and heart warming as much as possible. Life is too short to eat a bunch of yucky food that is suppose to be good for you. I would rather my children have a happy and healthy relationship with food, even if it means that they eat more sugar and junk than I would like.
Take it a step at a time. If you try to do it all at once, you will become overwhelmed and fail, thinking: “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this, it just doesn’t work for me! “ It is a journey!
Food is pleasure too; fuel is not its only purpose. It is not the enemy. Calories are not just to be counted; they are to be consumed for the pleasure of humanity. Enjoy it!