This is a guest blog post by Beth Warren and was originally posted here.
When navigating through the world of health and wellness, you desperately seek nutrition advice from newspapers, magazines, your “know-it-all” neighbor, grandma’s old-wives tales and “expert” health care professionals. With good intentions to try and be healthy, you find yourself confused by the conflicting messages revolved around the mantra to, “Eat this, not that.”
The reality is the complicated opinions are leaving you at a loss of what to eat to stay healthy and derailing your nutritious path. During the journey towards better health, the simple enjoyment of real food got lost to the “cutting and pasting” of fad diets like The HcG Diet and buzzwords like superfood. But what does it all really mean?
A History of Fad Diets
When we were first told all fats are bad in the 1980-1990′s, the food industry was quick to cut out the fat and make enticing “low-fat” or “fat-free” products. The end result was an unhealthy product with added sugars and simple carbohydrates as substitutions for the fat. It was no surprise that Americans were still getting fat.
Fast forward to the “no carb craze” and the popularity of diets such as, The Atkins Diet, and again, the food industry caught on and quickly made low-carbohydrate food products, substituting more unhealthy fats and processed ingredients for the sugar content. Was it shocking that Americans were still getting fat?
With the current claim that sugar is a poison, a drug and enemy number one, I can bet what will happen: the food industry will grab hold of the “no sugar fad” and substitute fancy artificial ingredients for natural sugar and guess what? Americans will probably still get fatter.
Consider this our wake-up call: It is not about the one bad ingredient that is making us unhealthy. On the flipside, it is also not about the one good ingredient, like beta-carotene, that is making us healthier. It’s about the diet as a whole. The simple carbohydrates, plus the unhealthy fats like trans and saturated fats, plus the simple, added sugars: all equaling an unhealthy you.
Back to the Good Ole Days
We need to change our mindset to a new normal. Really, it’s the old normal. I mean, way old…back to the cavemen ages when diet was simple. They ate what they physically hunted and what they physically gathered in their own fields. In other words, a fresh, diet of whole foods, real foods (not heavily processed!) plus exercise as part of an everyday lifestyle. Again, our new normal.
Lifestyle is the operative word. When we stop thinking of the word “diet” that became connoted with the concept of “restriction” and negative attachments, we can move forward to really getting healthy and happy, with REAL foods.
A Whole Foods Diet
Here are some ways to incorporated whole food choices:
- Choose products with 100% whole grains as often as possible. Please don’t underestimate your family’s taste buds. Try transitioning them onto the more wholesome flavor by mixing the whole with refined grains at first and slowly wean them off of the simple carbohydrates. There are also a wide array of brands and types of grains on the market today so experiment until you find a taste that you enjoy.
- Swap half the white flour called for in your baking recipes with whole-wheat flour. Typically, the sweetener can also be cut in half without the sweetest of a tooth noticing.
- Eat tons of fresh vegetables and fruits. Try to include them in all meals and snacks. You can do this by making the vegetable the focal part of your meal and building the rest of the foods around it as a side. For example, a BIG salad, topped with a 3 oz piece of wild salmon and a side of sweet potato.
- Think about including beans in your meals and snacks more often. They are a great source of plant protein, fiber, phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids, and lycopene.
- Eat fewer convenience and processed foods. They’re full of added fat, sugar, salt, and additives.
- Choose nonsugary beverages such as water, green tea (iced or hot), fresh fruit juice, and skim or soy milk.
Take the time-traveling journey with me back to all of our roots of “Real Foods, Whole Foods.” What whole foods will you be trying?
Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and a certified dietitian-nutritionist with a masters of science degree in Nutrition. She runs a private practice in Brooklyn, NY where she works as a freelance writer, consultant of businesses and counsels adult and pediatric clients with various medical conditions and weight management.