• Which fruits are the highest in antioxidants?
• What are the good fats and what are the bad fats?
• Which foods are high in vitamin C?
• What role does fiber play in your body and what are good sources of fiber?
• Are carbohydrates good for you or bad for you?
These are all good questions—sort of. The exploration of such questions by scientists has yielded useful information for us all. But it’s also led to a ton of confusion about nutrition and created what can be thought of as nutritionism. Nutritionism is voracious reductionism applied to food. Some people can no longer eat for pleasure and to enjoy eating meals with loved ones. They are too concerned with counting their calories, avoiding carbs or getting enough carbs, or eating the “best” fruits and vegetables. In studying nutrition and teaching others about nutrition for many years, I can tell you it’s not that complicated. I can also save you a lot of trouble and help you with the two important things you really need to have in mind when making decisions about eating in the modern world. Simply eat food (real, whole, natural food) most of the time and minimize your consumption of food products (a.k.a. processed food) and eat a good amount of food for you by eating until you are satisfied.
Think of it this way: Is it made in a factory? If so, it’s a food product. Apples, salmon, carrots, and almonds are foods. Crackers, soda, bagels, and frozen dinners (even the ones sold at Whole Foods) are food products. They don’t grow on trees or swim in the ocean, right? They didn’t exist until someone made them in a factory. They were processed. They are food products. They came from food at some point, but the food was altered substantially to make the food product. Food, very simply and very powerfully, gives you everything you need and does not give you anything that can be detrimental to you. Food products, on the other hand, have issues. The processing of the food depletes the food of its nutrients and often involves the addition of detrimental ingredients as well.
Many people say they know what to eat, but they just eat too much. This is truly a simple habit to change. All you do is pay attention to the clear signals your body has for you. When having meal, if you are still hungry, keep eating. Once you feel satisfied, stop eating. Once you do this regularly, it will become your new habit. Your current habit may be to deny yourself from food because you have been taught that this kind of restriction is good for you. Or maybe you eat whatever is on your plate, even if you are full. Maybe you were taught to always “clean your plate”. But today you are a new you. You decided how much to eat. And your best new teacher is your own body. Tune in. Pay attention. Your body is always telling you what it needs.
Nearly all nutrition problems can be solved simply by moving toward a diet that is based largely on real, whole, natural food and eating until you are satisfied, no more and no less. It does no matter if you have apples or acai berries. It does no matter if you have wild-caught salmon or grass-fed beef. What matters is that you have apples and salmon and broccoli and almonds instead of granola bars, breakfast cereals, frozen dinners, or processed lunch meats. It does not matter if you count your calories or know your percentage of macronutrient intake or any of that. What matters is that you listen to yourself and you eat enough to be satisfied. This means that you don’t keep eating after you’ve had enough. It also means that you don’t stop eating until you’ve had enough. Do those two things consistently well and you will be very well-nourished for life.
Remember your mantra for today: NOURISHING MOVEMENT, NOURISHING FOOD, NOURISHING LIFE.