Yesterday, Kathleen posted about fast food, and speculated that we are mistaken when we vilify it without also condemning many of the other crappy quality foods we have in our lives. It made me start thinking about healthy eating and food rules, and how we set our limits about what we will or will not eat.
My mom and I recently reflected on how our food habits have changed in the last year. Neither one of us was even slightly tempted to eat a piece of Halloween candy this year. Last year? I probably would have at least considered it, and the year before that I would have eaten some for sure.
My rules for food have changed. I see it in my friends and clients too. I’m so proud when someone starts to tell me about how they didn’t buy X product because of what was on the label. It means…they’ve set standards for what they’ll put into their bodies.
The truth is, fast food is crappy quality food, and if you eat it often, it will damage your health. Similarly, if you consistently eat processed foods from the grocery store (or from other run-of-the-mill restaurants), you’re also going to damage your health over time.
If I had to put my own personal food rules in a list, they would look like this:
No high fructose corn syrup
No sugar added
No sugar substitutes (except stevia in some forms)
No white flour or gluten
No vegetable oils
No hydrogenated oils
Minimal fruit (mostly just berries)
Only grass-fed organic meat and butter
Only farm fresh free range eggs
Only organic full fat dairy (ideally unpasteurized, but always full fat)
Only raw aged cheeses
For produce: non-organic for only the clean 15, the dirty dozen: organic only
Only organic nuts and nut butters
Only organic fair trade coffee
When I go out to eat, I make the best choices I can, realizing that the meat and produce are usually not the quality I would buy and eat at home. Maybe my rules are too strict for a lot of people (or not strict enough for others), but they’ve evolved this way–and they guide my choices on a daily basis, even when I’m not thinking about them.
With clients and students, I start with this: No high fructose corn syrup (yes, you’ll have to cut out regular Heinz Ketchup—and just because that is generally accepted as a staple in most homes does not mean you should ignore the ingredients and consume it anyway!). The second rule I begin with is: No hydrogenated oils.
From there, we’d graduate to cutting out/down white flour and sugar products, increasing the quality of dairy products consumed (not fat free!), and reducing/cutting vegetable oil intake. It’s a process that takes time!
As long as we’re doing the best we can with the information we have at any given time, that’s enough. Lifestyle change is a process, and a person has to be ready for it in order for it to work.
My students recently did an assignment comparing costs for a meal plan made of entirely fast food vs. a meal plan made of unprocessed healthier grocery store options. Every student who did the assignment right (i.e. used the cost of one chicken breast vs. the cost of the 6 that came in the pack that could be eaten on another day), concluded that fast food is more expensive than healthy food you make at home. Many of them were really surprised!
What food rules do you follow in your life?
It’s Friday again, and I’m eagerly anticipating enjoying #WineFriday this afternoon, but first I have some work to do, some working out to fit in, a session in my sauna…and cleaning. I better get started!