It seems that every day we find out that another supposedly “healthy” food may not be quite as healthy as we thought. Hormones in milk (possibly aspartame soon), pesticides on vegetables, genetically modified soy (GMO) and other foods, cancerous causing meats, stomach upsetting wheat… I mean, really, what can we eat anymore? It all seemed so simple when I started working on eating better. I focused on eating more fruits and veggies, lean meats, whole grains, light dairy… and I lost 35 lbs. doing that. Back then the worst “fad” thing was Adkins (which I avoided, because people eating as much bacon as they wanted for weight loss just didn’t seem right. Of course, they were kind of doing it wrong, hah).
There are SO many different diets out there that no one really knows what to eat. One diet tells you that wheat is the devil (which, if you have Celiac’s you obviously need to avoid gluten… but the rest of us?), another tells you that even beans are toxic to your body, then you find charts telling you which fruits and veggies have the lowest pesticide levels, and what products have been genetically modified. What once seemed simple is now so complex and confusing… I can see how people who just want to get better at eating get so overwhelmed and confused. I read this blog online yesterday and it had me deep belly laughing because I can totally related to it: http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/tragedy-healthy-eater.html (seriously, read this, it’s great!)
I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not here with a solution… well, I guess I am, but it’s not a one size fits all solution.
The fact of the matter is this. If we really pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, it’s not that hard to realize what foods make us feel good, energized, and amazing and what foods make us feel sluggish, crappy, and gross. If you constantly find yourself in a sleep mood, depressed, and having to use antacids… well, you may want to look at what you are eating. If you are usually energetic, but get bouts of feeling like crap, when pay attention to what does that. Be willing to cut that item out, or seriously minimize it (and be willing to pay the consequences when you do choose to indulge). So, I have some basic rules for you to follow when it comes to nutrition…
1.) Pay attention… to what goes into your body, how it makes you feel, and become aware of the foods that make you feel the best. Try keeping a food journal for a couple days. Write down the time of day you are eating, what you eat (and how much), and how you feel about 1/2 hour to an hour after you eat it.
2.) Research many options… and find the best one for YOU. What’s best for one person may not be best for the other person. If I were going to choose any of the “diets” that have a name, I’d go Mediterranean. It’s easy for someone to tell you that what they do is best, because it’s working for them… but you are different, your body is different, so make sure you look at all of the possibilities and find one that makes you feel good that will also fit well into your lifestyle.
3.) Get a nutritionist… if you are really worried about what you are putting in your body. They are the ONLY people with super specialized training in that area. I hate to say this, but even your doctor may not be aware of what is best… because most doctors are trained to diagnose and treat with medication. If you want a doctor to help with food, find one who is also a nutritionist, or even someone who specializes in holistic health.
You want some basic advice from me? I like to keep things simple. What I’d recommend is minimizing the following things: sugars, processed foods, fast foods, artificial sweetners, heavy/creamy pastas, sodas, alcohol, junk food, etc. (admit it, you have common sense, you probably know what you should be minimizing already). If you want an easy guide that is simple to read and select foods off of, check out this Michi’s Ladder guide. That’s the guide I used, initially, that helped me lose 35 lbs. I just focused on eating the majority of my foods from tiers one and two. Simple.
If you want to do a more intense diet, though, I’m by no means stopping you. Just find what’s right for you, and try not to drown in the sea of bad/good/bad/good/bad/good… ya know?