Our Bodies Are Giving Up
In a food world dominated by the almighty buck and chemists crafting up even cheaper ways to make “food” taste good while staying one step ahead of the FDA, we need to be vigilant in protecting our bodies from inferior ingredients that are potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic (causing DNA mutations which can lead to cancer), or allergenic. Inflammation at the cellular level happens when we force our body to digest things it views as foreign or toxic and also when we ingest foods we have unique sensitivities to.¹
Cellular inflammation, and the body’s ability to absorb this self-inflicted damage which occurs from eating inflammatory-causing foods (that is ALL processed food), is one of the many amazing ways our bodies are designed to survive. But daily inflammation? Now we have a serious problem.
After eating “food” concocted from man-made and doctored ingredients (such as isolated proteins, processed soy, processed fiber (inulin, chicory root, etc.), GMO ingredients, chemical colorings, toxic yet somehow “approved” additives, and God only knows what else), we then wonder why our hormones are out of control, our hair and nails are weak and brittle, our skin is dry and sallow, and our energy levels have plummeted. Worse yet, our organs begin to turn against us and we start relying on surgical band-aids to keep us alive.
You asked, here’s my answer. I believe a healthy diet consists of:
- local and organic fruits and vegetables (including lots of greens)
- probiotic-rich homemade yogurt for maintaining good gut flora
- grass-fed organic meats, locally sourced
- wild-caught and sustainable fish/seafood, locally sourced whenever possible
- organic, farm-fresh eggs and poultry from free-range chickens who eat bugs/worms (chickens are NOT meant to be vegetarians, people!), locally sourced
- raw milk and dairy products from grass-fed cows, locally sourced when possible/legal (damn you FDA)
- raw/organic nuts and seeds, locally sourced when possible
- healthy organic oils (like coconut, olive, and walnut oils), locally sourced when possible
- raw and local honey (got rid of my allergies, yo!)
- plenty of filtered (or reverse osmosis) water
For me, that would be a perfect diet. That being said, there is no ONE perfect diet for everyone. Part of owning your own health (instead of blaming fate, your parents, your budget, etc) is not stopping until you feel great. You keep eliminating and fine-tuning until you figure out what your body needs (and what it doesn’t!).
The great news is, the healthier your eating becomes, the more aware you will be of your body’s warning signs. Your body will stop living in survival mode (which is the chronic state most our bodies are in, tasked with the never-ending job of processing foreign toxins, artificial ingredients and managing stress) and will finally start to heal, cleanse, and start talking to you.
How can your body tell you what’s wrong if it’s too busy dealing with all the crap you’re eating?
Now even if you follow the 80/20 rule (80% the above foods and 20% whatever you want), you would be hard-pressed to be overweight on a diet like this. That’s because I don’t include sugars or grains on this list — and for good reason.
UPDATE 3/10/2014: I have since added select grains to my diet and find that my body responds well, even letting go of a few stubborn pounds. That said, I stick to mainly organic sprouted grains (i.e. Ezekiel Bread) and Ryvita whole grain crackers (with two ingredients: rye flour and salt).
What I Eat
I recently got called out on my ever-popular Visalus post for not telling people what I eat. I guess the Visalus sales reps want to believe that I’m a total hypocrite who bashes their poorly-made processed products while sneaking through the McDonald’s drive-thru.
So here it is. In all its glory. I eat the foods listed above 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, I’ve been known to have alcohol, french fries, and even the occasional chocolate croissant (gasp!!). In other words, I don’t beat myself up for the other 20%. But here’s the critical secret to my success: when I do deviate from the approved foods list, it’s not with processed food. I stick to high-quality indulgences that don’t overwhelm my body with foreign invaders (no corn syrup, refined oils, man-made chemicals, toxic additives, synthetic colorings, etc) and stick to organic whenever possible. Full Disclosure: I used to eat a box of Hot Tamales a few times a year (my former favorite movie snack) but I’ve even kicked that last processed food habit (thank you corn syrup intolerance!). Now I take one of my favorite (healthier) indulgences, Alter Eco’s new milk chocolate truffles (they put the highly processed Lindt balls to shame and provide a good hit of healthy coconut oil, too). Santa may have also put some in my stocking…just sayin’. Although I’m no where near perfect in what I eat, I’m getting better every year as I learn to listen to my body more and more. And I’m definitely not eating the Standard American Diet (known as SAD, obviously!).
Well That Sounds Expensive
I can already hear the uproar of commenters who lament that they can’t afford to eat this way. LIES! Americans are spending hundreds of dollars a month on eating at restaurants while also buying processed crap that leaves them hungry and malnourished (and in need of more processed crap). If you have a flat screen TV, a cell phone and a car, you actually DO have enough money to eat this way. If you’re reading this from anywhere other than a public computer at a library, you most likely DO have enough money to eat this way. The real issue isn’t your income, it’s the fact that you just don’t want to prioritize your health over your luxuries.
Many people complain about how expensive food is when in reality, food is the most important thing we buy! As the only necessity to life, it should be a major part of our monthly budget. If we didn’t feel so entitled to the luxuries of this life, we would have an easier time prioritizing our grocery budgets.
To be clear, I know I am fortunate to have the means to eat this way without sacrificing all luxuries (although we have ONE car, no TV/cable, late model cell phones, secondhand clothes, etc, etc — it’s not like I’m having champagne bubble baths over here, people). But this is one of the reasons why I offer FREE nutrition coaching to women from all over the world — because I’ve been blessed and I try my best to bless others in return, especially those who can’t afford it. It’s also another reason I financially support organizations like the Organic Consumers Association and donate quality foods to my local food bank.