Food Glorious Food!
You can almost hear the boys from Oliver's Poorhouse singing loudly. There's no denying it, we all love food. The problem isn't that we love it- it's that we love to eat the wrong things! Food has turned into a big business, and it's almost impossible to know what's really healthy! Low carb, low fat, high fat, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, the options are dizzying! So how do we talk about that 4 letter word F.O.O.D.?
Over our years in the wellness world, we have tried to implement many of the fads, but we have always come back to the same conclusion: Real Foods make Real Sense! After all, have you ever met a person who eats only whole, unprocessed foods that struggles with weight or chronic disease? In all my years in the wellness industry, I've met very few. So in our home, and with our clients, we beat the same drum over and over: Just Eat Real Food!
Whole versus Processed- what's the big deal?
First of all, let's define these two food types. Whole foods are natural state, meaning: I pick an apple off of a tree, and I eat it. (REAL FOOD) Processed foods are modified in some way from their original state, meaning: I pick an apple, I boil it, I juice it, I take all of the fiber and pulp from it, and I keep all of the sugar in it, making... juice. (FAKE FOOD)
Whole foods are balanced in a way that processed foods are not. Very often, processed foods take many of the cellular energy producers of a certain food (sugars or carbs) and combine them to make an unhealthy equation. Whole foods work in harmony and balance to give your body the energy it needs, and are created in a way that your body can use maximally.
An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away?
Both whole apples and apple juice products are from an apple tree, right? How can they be so different? The amazing thing about whole foods is that they are balanced and our bodies know how to process them. When the sugars in a whole apple are consumed with the other fibrous parts of the apple (think skin and flesh of the apple), it delays the glucose uptake in our system to give long lasting energy.1 When these components are taken apart and used alone (think apple juice), they can no longer work in harmony with our body.
According to Time Magazine, "An 8-oz. apple juice has roughly twice the sugar but less than one-tenth the fiber of a medium-sized apple. The stats: juice has 120 calories, 0.3 g dietary fiber, and 27.2 g sugar; the fruit has 72 calories, 3.3 g dietary fiber, and 14.3 g sugar."2
But how much sugar should people really eat in a day? The World Health Organization floated an idea in 2014: "WHO's current recommendation, from 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day. It further suggests that a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits. Five per cent of total energy intake is equivalent to around 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI)." That means that one 8 oz glass of apple juice would be over the suggested limit.
Sugar is not the only problem with a glass of juice a day. The European Journal of Nutrition did a study in 2012 comparing apples and juice. The results? "We conclude that the fibre component is necessary for the cholesterol-lowering effect of apples in healthy humans and that clear apple juice may not be a suitable surrogate for the whole fruit in nutritional recommendations."3 This study showed that apples are far superior to apple juice.
So What Should I Eat?
This is, by far, so easy, it's almost a crime to call education. Eat whole, minimally cooked or processed foods! That's it!
In an ideal world:
- Leafy greens
- Fresh, whole fruits
- All kinds of vegetables
- Nuts & seeds (raw)
- Green Tea
Getting Started on Whole Foods
Cook your foods in a healthier way:
- Eliminate frying foods
- Cook at low temperatures
- Use coconut oil or safflower oil
- Reduce meat and dairy
- I know I'll get lots of complaints about this, but trust me when I say, animal products in large quantities are not healthy for you!
- Replacing dairy (generally inflammatory) with something that has health benefits like coconut
Bolster Your Nutrition with Supplements
- MultiMedica or Foundation Essentials: Two powerful supplements that give your body the nutrients it needs for the day!
- Power Greens or Power Reds: antioxidants that can substitute for all those leafy greens you are working into your diet.
- Meal Replacement Shakes: These are high in nutrition, and low on inflammation and can be a great tool as you work toward weight loss or better health in general.
Some Final Thoughts on Food
We all know that there are ideal scenarios, and then, there is reality! Here is how I feed my family, and it has worked well for years:
- Fruit/Veggie Smoothies
- Fruit & Peanut Butter
- No Sugar Added Banana Bread (link to recipe example)
- Rice, Less than 5 oz of meat
- Steamed veggies
- Large "salad bar" where kids can pick their toppings
- Frozen banana put through the juicer to make "ice cream"
- A few squares of chocolate
- Berry smoothie
What about beverages? This is very simple: DON'T DRINK YOUR CALORIES! We drink ONLY: Unsweetened coffee or tea, water, water, or water. Occasionally, we splurge with something else, but it is not a daily occurrence.
What sweeteners do we recommend? Natural sweetness from fruits, RAW honey, and stevia. Do not use artificial sweeteners under any circumstances, and I believe we've covered our feelings on sugars already. We have completely had sugar out of our lives for over a year now, and I must say our family doesn't miss it at all. If we get something sugary now at a party or event, we all comment that it is not nearly as tasty as we remember it being.
1 Intake of whole apples or clear apple juice has contrasting effects on plasma lipids in healthy volunteers. Ravn-Haren G1, Dragsted LO, Buch-Andersen T, Jensen EN, Jensen RI, Németh-Balogh M, Paulovicsová B, Bergström A, Wilcks A, Licht TR, Markowski J, Bügel S.
2 http://healthland.time.com/2009/08/07/calorie-counter-fruit-vs-fruit-juice/ By Laura Blue Aug. 07, 2009
3 European Journal of Nutriton. 2013 Dec;52(8):1875-89. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0489-z. Epub 2012 Dec 28.