10 May 2010

How to Eat Food, Part II

So I have a few philosophies about eating, borne from the past few years of self-education. Through several casual conversations with an R.D. I'm acquainted with (I hope to post an interview with her in the near future) and personal experience, I've found more satisfaction from eating according to these rules than I ever did following the general "wisdom" touted by the major food producers in America. Eat fat, eat carbs, eat whatever makes you feel good; it comes down to knowing HOW.

  1. Know where your food comes from. Eating locally is the best way to take care of not only yourself, but your local economy. When you can look a farmer in the face and ask the questions that are important to you, you get a better sense of how your food came to be, and you support the survival of a dying breed (the small family farmer). Plus, you can know how your food was really grown.
  2. Eat whole foods, the closer to the source the better. The more processed your food is, the less your body can use. Our bodies evolved to be incredibly efficient and absorb nutrients from many various sources. I figure, nature is a lot smarter than I am so I try to eat what my body can recognize.
  3. Butter is better. Butter (and lard, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil ) are natural, minimally processed fats. And no, Canola and Vegetable oil are NOT natural fats. I'll be posting about these and other cooking fats in the near future.
  4. "Health" food is often anything but. Look at the labels of some of your favorite mass-produced diet foods; you'll see words that you might swear they just made up, and an ingredient list longer than an inventory of my entire pantry. For example, Lean Cuisine's Chicken and Spinach Panini contains over 135 separate ingredients. And can anyone tell me what "isolated oat product" is?
  5. Eat your colors. The best thing you can do when coming up with your meals is to look at your produce (there are some fruits or veggies in there, right?). How many colors do you have? If your meals consist mostly of "brown" (bread/pasta/meat) and not much else, your body doesn't have a lot to run off of.
  6. Enjoy your food!! The most important thing is to enjoy what you're eating. I think the worst part of a typical "diet" is eating food that tastes like cardboard, because that's what we're "supposed" to do, and feeling grumpy, unsatisfied, and hungry again in 5 minutes. If it was so good for you, don't you think you'd feel better physically? As long as you're eating truly nutritious foods, your body will thank you.
  7. Listen to your body. One of my all-time favorite dishes is Chicken Paprikas (my recipe here). Whenever I eat it, I just know I'm doing something right for my body. It always fills me up on one serving (which is really astonishing - I'm the queen of "seconds"). Plus, I always feel GOOD after eating it. Maybe it's because it reminds me of the best parts of my childhood; maybe it's because I don't get guilty since I never overindulge; maybe it's because it's incredibly nutritious. Whatever it is, it makes my body feel good, unlike the feeling you get after a bag of potato chips: makes you feel good for a second, but never really fills you up. Then you're left feeling grumpy, guilty, and still hungry!
  8. Moderation is great, but balance is the key! You always hear it, everything in moderation, so why is it so hard?! Unfortunately, we're told to eat a million fruits and veggies, but to stay away from the "bad" stuff, like fat, carbs, and cholesterol. The fact is, these things are not inherently bad. On the contrary, they're necessary for our bodies to function. The key to being able to eat in moderation is to balance your meals properly.
What's your healthy-eating philosophy? What tips and tricks have worked for you? 

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