Deceptive foods in my journey towards eating healthier

It is amazing how much your environment influences you. I have been hopping around different cities, being surrounded by such different groups of people/cultures/mind sets, and it really shapes my own habits and lifestyle choices. Being in Washington, DC right now with my good friend Emily has drastically changed my lifestyle choices (for the better I believe). My friend is on her own journey to healthier living (unlike mine which includes weight loss – she is a stick!) she has adopted many new changes in her life, like cutting out a large majority of meat products, increasing her own consumption of seasonal fruits/veggies (see my earlier post for March seasonal veggies), and making a lot of her own food. Through this journey she has really researched and increased her knowledge about food and its affect on health. I know that I will always love meat but moderation and selectivity is a good thing. Her influence has been huge on my life as well, especially on my reading list. I wanted to share a tidbit from the current book I am reading Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”. While I do not agree with all of his rules…they are great bits of food for thought:

“Rule 9: Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names…

The forty-year-old campaign to create low- and non-fat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. Also, by demonizing one nutrient – fat- we inevitably give a free pass to another, supposedly “good” nutrient – carbohydrates in this case – and then proceed to eat too much of that instead. Since the low-fat campaign began in the late 1970s, Americans actually have been eating more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar. The result: The average males is 17 lbs heavier and the average female is 19 lbs heavier than in the late 1970s. You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than binging on the “lite” food products packed with sugars and salt”

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Processed foods

This last weekend I visited my best friend Amanda in Fredricksberg, VA in order to see her new digs (first time she has moved away from home!) and have a girls weekend. Somehow this turned into a weekend of binge eating processed foods (a case of Dr. Pepper, cheese balls (the whole entire bucket), fruit gushers, ice cream sandwiches, Milano cookies, Reece’s peanut butter cereal, etc) and watching hours upon hours of TV on Netflix and Hulu (by the way if you haven’t seen it the NBC series “Life” is fantastic – it only had two seasons but was great!). As one could imagine I felt like a train hit me by the end of the weekend, and I took a vow to get back to tracking on Weight Watchers and to the healthier eating habits I have had the last couple of months. The week has been a challenge, because now all my body and mind wants are cheese balls, but successful so far. A tidbit from that book I keep quoting Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” has helped the process along:

Rule 13: Eat only foods that will eventually rot…

What does it mean for a food to “go bad”? It usually means that the fungi and bacteria and insects and rodents with whom we compete for nutrients and calories have gotten t it before we did. Food processing began as a way to extend the shelf life of a food by protecting it form these competitors. This is often accomplished by making the food less appealing to them, by removing nutrients from it that attract competitors, or by removing other nutrients likely to turn rancid, like omega-3 fatty acids. The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is. Real food is alive – and therefore it should eventually die. (There are a few exceptions to this rule: For example, honey has a shelf life measured in centuries.) Note: most immortal food-like substances in the supermarket are found the middle aisles.”

Rule 19: if it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t…”

While  I will never completely give up processed food-like substances, again the key is moderation. This week I am trying to detox my system from the hell I put it through this weekend. But in general, I try to avoid processed foods. Another benefit besides health to this rule is it forces me to cook more (which is a GOOD thing!), thus making me more accountable for the food that gets put into my body!