If you have read my previous post about what not to eat, you’re probably wondering: Then what SHOULD I eat?
First, let’s point out that not all edible things are considered food.
Obvious enough, right? But how do we differentiate between real food and edible things posing as food?
Think about all the food commercials that you watched as a child. Advertisements for Yoplait Tubes, Fruit by the Foot, Kraft Single Slices, and Wonder Bread were fun but they also succeeded by making claims such as “Contains 2 servings of fruit” or “Made with real Canadian dairy”. While these claims may not be entirely false, one quick look at the ingredients list on the back of the package will leave you in question. With all the sugar, artificial flavour extracts, food colouring, and preservatives, it’s hard to believe that those products are edible at all!
Compare the aforementioned to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and real dairy products. Vegetables don’t have a check mark label on it’s skin claiming to be healthy. A carrot doesn’t need to prove itself, neither does that head of kale or box of strawberries. An apple is honest and packed with soluble fiber that is good for your heart. If organic varieties are available to you, you can choose those to avoid pesticides and chemical additives. But in terms of nutrients, there is yet to be any confirmation that organic produce is better than conventionally grown produce. Organic or not, eating more vegetables and fruits during meals and snack time will fuel your body with more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to help you feel more energized and look your best.
I’m not suggesting that you should avoid all processed foods like the plague, but if possible, choose those products less often since there isn’t a great nutritional value to be gained from them. My personal rule is: if grandma can’t recognize it, choose it sparingly. Our grandmas were raised during a time when food was real and wholesome, unlike the chemical hodgepodge that we have now. Direct all your food questions to your grandma, she would know what’s best and probably throw in some free cooking lessons too.
More tips on eating for your well-being:
1. Shop the perimeter of your grocery: that’s where all the produce, fresh proteins and grains are. The inner aisles usually contain non-perishable and processed foods which are laden with preservatives and other non-food ingredients.
2. Eat colourfully: Sorry, a bowl of fruit loops or M&M’s do not count in this case! Add colour to your diet with vegetables and fruits. The more natural colours that you eat, the closer you are to fulfilling your daily vegetable and fruit requirement as suggested by Canada’s food guide.
3. Learn: find out why eating well is good for your mental and physical health. When you have a reason to eat healthily, it will be much easier to curb cravings for junk food and stick to your health routine.
4. Make your own food: try to prepare and cook your own meals when possible, it’s the easiest way to know what exactly you are putting into your body. It’s also good for controlling the amounts of salt, sugar or oil to cater to your diet.