Nutrition tip #4: Eat whole, unprocessed food as much as possible
Eating mainly whole foods sensitizes the palette and make us crave the good-for-us stuff, eventually snowballing into a perfect-for-you nutrition program.
I’ve recently gone on a Netflix watching binge of food documentaries. Man, that food industry is really making us fat. Check out my favorites so far: Fed Up and A Place at the Table. Processed foods contain a ton of added sugar and salt and they are stripped of fiber and other nutrients. My nutrition research and education tells me that the starting point for a healthy diet in relation to the average American diet is high fiber, high protein, medium to low carbs, no added sugar and limited added salt. This ratio of fiber:protein:carb:sugar:salt is impossible to get from processed food. It simply does not exist.
People who obtain a majority of their nutrition from processed food are typically obese, overfed, undernourished and hungry as hell. A sad fact of the matter is that some people literally have no choice but to eat this crap. Food deserts (as in Mohave, not dessert) really do exist in America. Wikipedia says “A food desert is a geographic area where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. Food deserts usually exist in rural areas and low-income communities. Some research links them to diet-related health problems in affected populations.”
I personally experienced food deserts during my 6 week cross country bike ride. The most extensive was the section between Mohave AZ and central CA. Jacob and I routinely ate lunch and dinners from gas stations and convenience stores with zero meat sections and maybe a single banana, if we were lucky, in terms of produce. No broccoli for hundreds of miles. The best we could do was a can of chili, sometimes with fritos (frito pie a la Hard Times Cafe), and a can of vegetables. It tasted ok. Honestly, it tasted pretty delicious sometimes, especially after those 100 mile plus days, but my body hated it and I can’t imagine eating day-to-day this way. I was a bloated, craving, hungry, constipated and gassy mess. By eating this stuff, human bodies can literally starve from lack of nutrients yet they can become obese due to an overdose of sugar which leads to continual insulin dumps and fat storage. I wholeheartedly believe that I would have continued gaining spectacular amounts of fat as long as I continued eating this way. Even if I was biking 100 miles per day. Gross.
Whole30 is a program worth checking out. It’s a very strict 30 day program that eliminates processed food entirely. If you thrive on challenges and do not beat yourself up or feel guilty if you mess up a meal or two, it is worth trying. If you are like me and this type of all-or-nothing situation just sounds super stressful and would lead to your ultimate demise and failure… we can go for the same idea but just do it gradually. Eliminate one processed food item per week in favor of a whole food. Swap out chips in favor of carrots, get rid of cereal in favor of eggs, try fruit or cocoa instead of candy bars. See where that takes you. Eventually your palette will change and you will actually start to crave healthy whole foods instead of processed foods. Yeah we all still get those mint chocolate chip ice cream, fritos, or “insert your fav processed food here” cravings, but instead of daily or all the time (I’ve been there!) they might be weekly or monthly. Eating ice cream once a week does not an obese person make. A bonus is that fresh fruit like strawberries will taste SO sweet and extra delicious once enough processed foods have been minimized in the diet. Win!