There I was, about to make some delicious chicken and waffles, and sadly discovered I was out of my precious 100% maple syrup. I started looking and luckily stumbled upon some classic Aunt Jemima. I began glancing at the ingredients while nomming away at my syrup filled boxes, and noticed that there was a slew of ingredients in the ‘maple syrup’. In fact, the main ingredient in Aunt Jemima is CORN syrup – not to mention the other ingredients/preservatives.
So what is all the point of this? Many products that people consider food are not wholesome nutritious foods, but are products that will appease your taste buds and provide some macronutrients – usually in the form of fats and empty carbohydrates. Because processed foods contain very little fiber and lack micronutrients that your body needs, they are not satiating. Because of this, people are hungry more often, aren’t getting sufficient nutrients, and get into a continuous cycle of eating unhealthy food. These type of foods are stripped away of their goodness and added with other ingredients to make a product that LOOKS and TASTE like the real deal, but in a way are dog biscuits for humans.
Here is some background information – According to Wikipedia, “A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism’s metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy.” Think about this definition every time you put food into your body. Your body is constantly repairing and making new cells to replace old and dying cells in your body. Essentially, you will eventually become what you eat.
Nutrients can be broken down into macro and micro nutrients. The macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. The micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Most processed foods have very little micronutrients in them. Since the food has been processed, these nutrients have been destroyed and you are left with empty calories. The point of processing food is to increase the product’s shelf life. Whole food is suppose to spoil and rot because microscopic organisms find them very tasty and edible. If single cell life does not want to eat it, what makes you think it will be good for you?
The Greek word for diet is dieta which literally means “way of life”. The modern idea of diet has been misconstrued into a meal-plan with restrictive parameters. These diets never work because they are no way to live a healthy and happy life. They cut weight quickly because you are restricting your body of nutrients and so the body starts to use the nutrients already stored in your body. This works short term, but long term you will feel unhealthy, unhappy, and overall out of balance with what your body needs. Hormones and chemicals get out of whack and can cause your performance and mental capacity to dwindle.
The problem is two-thirds of Americans are overweight and foodheads. The American landscape is riddled with fast food establishments that serve salty, fatty, sugary, processed foods at almost any hour on planet Earth. Think about the last time you had a big, tasty, heavy meal. Did you feel euphoric, sedated, satisfied? This is because your brain’s reward system activates when you eat these foods. In addition, blood is rushing to your gastrointestinal tract to aid in digestion, away from your brain, and causing you get sleepy. Research also shows spikes in glucose can effectively switch off the neurons in the brain responsible for keeping us up. Think back to the first homo sapiens that walked on the African savannas. These animals (and we still have these animal bodies) would crave high calorie foods because they would give the most energy for the amount of output. Well, fast forward thousands of year into the future, and you have the same homo sapien in an environment where high calorie food is available everywhere.
Part of the problem is portion control. Many American portion sizes are way bigger than what we need in one sitting. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive the signal that you are full, so most people are constantly eating past this point. Start to enjoy your food – observe how the food looks, chew it until it is broken down to get all the subtle flavors, and overall do not stuff your fat face!
Tips for eating healthy
- Eat more plants. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and (mushrooms) add fiber and micronutrients to your diet making them healthy and satiating. A spring mix salad with fresh veggies before a meal can add nutrients and bulk causing you to eat less of the main course (and dessert). A little bit of drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar make a great dressing.
- Do not keep soda, juice, or other high sugary drinks at home. These should only be used sparingly and as rewards. You would be amazed how calories sneak up from liquid sources. Drink 8 to 12 cups of water a day. The extra fluid will make you feel fuller.
- Keep a constant supply of fruit. Oranges, bananas, apples, avacados, grapes and kiwis are easy to prepare and usually last awhile. Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries store easily and are great in smoothies. Some people say fruit is bad, but I disagree. It satisfies your body’s craving for sugar and will add fiber and micronutrients to your diet. Imagine fat melting away if you are getting calories from fruit instead of a piece of pie.
- Overall, be more AWARE of what food you are putting into your body. If the food is in a box or bag, it is probably processed in some way. Look at the ingredients and if you never heard of one, google the ingredient and learn about what you are consuming.
- Start cooking your own food. This way you know exactly how your food was prepared. This is a journey that will not manifest over night. Have realistic expectations and slowly start to integrate a healthy lifestyle. Try to change one to two unhealthy habits a week and replace them with healthier habits.