My fifties have been a great time to put regrets behind me. I’ve stopped beating myself up for things I should have done, could have done and would have if only______________ (fill in the blank). I’m livin, lovin, and enjoying the many good things in my life. Eating healthfully and savoring tasty food is one of my favorite pastimes. When people ask me how I discipline myself to exercise as much as I do, I have to admit that part of the reason is to support my eating habit! There are so many myths about what you should eat, what you must avoid, and what you should never be within 10 feet of. Herewith is a concise, commonsense article that will help dismiss some of these oft bandied-about ideas.
First, forget the notion that all food is better for you raw rather than cooked. The “paleo” diet that has taken foodies by storm has its place and is true for certain foods. Some foods retain more of their nutrients in the raw state, while others actually improve their nutrient bioavailability when cooked. Some examples of the latter are tomatoes, kale and carrots. Also, how many of you would opine that so many foods are tastier when cooked? Think caramelized onions, squash, and cauliflower, not to mention meat, chicken and fish (although I don’t see raw chicken on the menu, sushi and beef tartare can be found in many an eatery.)
Second, don’t believe that all “processed ” foods are bad. Many types of processed foods are healthy choices, such as all kinds of milk, oatmeal and yogurt. Instead focus on foods that, even when processed, will provide vitamins and minerals that are essential parts of a healthy diet.
Third, take the label “all natural” with a grain of salt. It means absolutely nothing, according to the FDA. Granola is touted as all natural and is very high in fat and sugar. The most natural foods you can buy are not packaged. They’re found in the produce section in the state in which they were harvested; think raw fruits and vegetables. And pay special attention to the “dirty dozen” list which includes produce grown with large amounts of pesticides. These fruits and veggies should be purchased as organic if possible. The “clean fifteen” is produce which is treated with the minimal or no pesticides. For a quick update, check out the following article:
Last, try to reduce your intake of sugar although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to eliminate it entirely. It occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and these complex sugars are fine in moderation. However the “natural” sugars that are touted to be healthier, like agave nectar and honey, are still all sugar. So our bodies respond to them as if they were processed sugar- storing them as fat when eaten in excess. Think about limiting your sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day , or 5% of total caloric intake. The average American’s sugar intake is about 10% of daily total calories. So there you have it- easy to follow and sustainable ways of maintaining your healthy eating regimen. Eat smart and regret-free!