Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eat Real Food For Real Results

Eat Real Food For Real Results

In America, we are often so removed from the source of our food that we don't really know where it comes from, what it originally looked like, or what has been done to it before it reaches us. In fact, we often don't even realize the variety of food that exists (and I don't mean the variety of food that we manufacture, but the variety that the earth has made). There are over 60 varieties of potatoes available in the world, way more than the red, white and sweet that we are familiar with. This goes for lots of other natural foods and fortunately we are lucky enough to have the availability of such abundance and variety.
The industrial revolution changed our relationship to food in two ways: People moved into the cities and became more distanced (physically and culturally) from their food sources. And as food had to travel farther (and therefore keep longer) methods of processing evolved to keep the food from going bad. White flour can last for a year or longer. Whole wheat flour will go rancid in a matter of weeks. People bought their food in markets and rarely knew where their food came from or how it was grown or raised. This brings us to where we are today, where children can easily be tricked into thinking that chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows, because they don't have any experience with real cows that would prove such an idea wrong.
What constitutes a processed food? Food that does not come from nature and has to be manufactured in a facility, in order to exist.
For example: Chips vs. Potatoes. One would not find a bag of potato chips growing in the ground.
If we don't know what the food looks like in the raw, then we probably don't know what was done to it before it reached our dinner tables. We may not know how it was processed (such information is rarely included on the label). And if we've always eaten the food after processing (or after it’s gotten quite old during transit and storage) then we don't know what it tastes like when it’s whole and fresh. We don't know if it has been improved or rendered flavorless in the time between the farm and our dinner table. 
When we eat foods close to their whole, natural states, we benefit from all of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that come naturally bound to the bigger nutrients in these foods. Drinking apple juice rather than eating a whole apple causes a sudden rush of sugar into the bloodstream, which puts unnecessary burden on organs like the pancreas and liver. When an apple is eaten whole, the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are present in the whole apple help to allow the natural sugars of the apple to enter the bloodstream at a pace that doesn’t put the same burden on our organs. In the same way, eating foods that contain sugar puts an incredible amount of stress on our organs, paving the way to a variety of health challenges.

Here is a list of unprocessed foods to start adding in to your diet:

  • Dairy Products: The only true unprocessed dairy food would be raw milk. Products made from raw milk are minimally processed.

  • Fats: exist in a true unprocessed state only in their original form. Most fats require physical or chemical processing to be extracted as separate products. Butter, for example, must be separated from milk. Olives must be pressed or chemically treated to produce olive oil.
  • Protein:Like fats, most meats and fish require physical processing to make them ready to eat. Sashimi-grade seafood can be eaten raw in its most natural form, but is physically processed.
  •  Vegetables: in their raw, natural state are unprocessed. Examples of unprocessed vegetables include carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, summer squash, lettuce and cauliflower. Frozen vegetables may be cooked or blanched; canned vegetables are usually cooked in the can. Dried vegetables may or may not have been chemically treated. Seaweed is usually cooked before packaging.

  • Fruits: in their raw, natural state are unprocessed. Examples of unprocessed fruits include apples, oranges and pears. Olives are usually brined. Frozen fruits may be cooked or blanched; canned fruits are usually cooked. Dried fruits may or may not have been chemically treated.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Raw nuts and seeds are unprocessed. Many nuts and seeds, including brazil nuts, pecans and cashews, are treated with heat during the shelling process, and roasted before being sold. Almonds from the United States are pasteurized before being sold.
  • Sugar: All sugar-containing plants, including sugar cane and beets, must be processed to extract the sugar as a separate product. Raw, unpasteurized honey is a source of unprocessed sugar. Commercially produced honey is typically processed before being sold. "Raw" sugar has been boiled and dried and may have color added.
  • Grains: The least-processed grains are whole grains; however, many of them must be physically processed or heat-treated to make them edible, including brown rice.

Ready to transition to a clean way of eating and a healthier you? 

Here's 7 simple steps to follow to start right away!

Step 1: Seek true satisfaction. Grab that peach or strawberry, examine its color, sniff it, and take a bite. Give yourself a moment to enjoy the genuine flavors. For comparison, nibble a Starburst fruit candy or a strawberry fruit roll-up. Notice that you mainly taste sweet without a lot of complexity? That's because fat, sugar, and salt are added to processed foods to mask the metallic taste of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and other chemical additives. Processed foods are also made to dissolve quickly in your mouth,to get you to eat faster and in greater quantities—often leaving you full, but not satisfied. Now you know why that bag of Doritos disappears before you've really had a chance to taste them.

Step 2: Read labels wisely. You don't need to spend an hour making your own marinara sauce. You can find "real" tomato sauce in the supermarket if you read labels carefully.Those containing ingredients you can buy on your own, like tomatoes, olive oil, salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese., meet the criteria for a real food; those that have preservatives, like BHT, thickeners like guar gum, or artificial flavors, don't. Ditto for store-bought breads, breakfast cereals, and pasta.
Step 3: Relish what's on your plate. This is all about devoting time to solely enjoying the pleasures of eating. Indulge in that piece of dark chocolate while sitting on a park bench, rather than while perched at your desk, catching up on E-mail. Sit down at you kitchen table for dinner, not parked in front of the TV. Eating without distractions will help you savor the tastes, textures, smells, and colors of the food on your plate.

Step 4: Wean yourself off excess salt, fat, and sugar. You'll be doing this anyway if you're eating fewer processed foods and restaurant meals, but you can also cook with smaller amounts of these ingredients by using natural substitutes. Strong spices like garlic, pepper, and oregano cut down on the need for salt. You can use less cooking oil if you broil instead of fry, and switch over to vegan baking recipes to avoid excess butter and eggs.
Step 5: Give your palate time to change. While it may be tough at first to skip the afternoon candy bar or fast-food fries, you'll gradually lose your taste for excessively sweet and salty foods as your palate adapts to a variety of new flavors. And you may even find yourself opening up to new foods. With real food's flavor overtones and textural range. Everything leads to something else. If you like coffee, soon enough you'll like red wine or mushrooms or Chinese black bean sauce, all because you find a common, mellow earthiness among them.

Step 6: Go for high-quality foods. You don't need to opt for only organic or produce sold at local farmstands—though both are certainly preferable—but you should look for products that contain the least amount of processed ingredients to ensure better taste and better quality. You can't, for example, experience the nutty chewiness of the whole grain if you go for white rice instead of brown. Look for breads and pastas with whole wheat or whole wheat flour as the first ingredient to enhance their taste and nutritional content. And, of course, choose fresh produce, when possible, over canned. Frozen fruits and vegetables are preferable when fresh ones aren't available.

Step 7: Treat yourself well by not skipping meals. Part of the enjoyment of food is allowing yourself to get hungry enough to crave your meal, but not so hungry that you're desperate to shovel anything and everything in your mouth. This can be accomplished by eating three meals a day at fairly regular times and having a mid-afternoon snack. Some of the interesting snack choices include apple wedges with natural peanut butter or honey; a few dried apricots and a handful of  pistachios; Vegetables and hummus. There are lots of healthy options.

Making the transition from your current diet to this new clean way of eating can feel overwhelming at times, something to keep in mind is that  you are a beginner in all of this and you should allow yourself the room to expand and grow. Over time all of this will come easily. Students of the martial arts strive to reach a state of being called “mind of no mind,” in which they move without thinking about what they are doing.  Each kick, spin, punch, duck is completely natural and unforced.  Everything happens so quickly for them, that there’s no way they can think about it.  A split second hesitation can mean the difference between victory and defeat.  These martial artists have trained themselves to the point where the movements become second nature, deeply ingrained in their being. 

It’s like tying your shoes.  When putting your shoes on in the morning you don’t think of the individual steps involved in tying them, you just tie them.  But it wasn't always that way.  When you were a little kid, and just learning to tie your shoes, it was like a massive puzzle that you had to figure out.  You have to loop this through that, put this end through that one, etc.  But in time, you learned to tie them to the point where you are today, where it is second nature.  

Whenever anybody starts anything for the first time, there is a learning curb, and nutrition is no exception.  Just like you weren't able to tie your shoes very easily the first time you tried, you won’t be able to start a new healthy lifestyle overnight.  All hope is not lost however, because like any other skill, healthy eating can be learned and eventually, with consistent practice, it will become second nature. Sounds good right? But wait, that’s not the exciting part. At some point something magical happens.  Imagine never having the debate in your head on whether you should order the cheeseburger on the menu or the salad. You just choose salad, because you actually want it.  Your taste buds begin to change, you start feeling the best you've felt in ages and you truly will crave healthy food.  This can happen with just a few small lessons.

Opening your mind to the possibility of change can be tough at first. It’s hard to imagine something that you've never done or experienced before.  I remember as a child being such a picky eater, as most kids are. Some of my favorite foods now are ones that I would have sat at the dinner table all night long refusing to eat them. Like I said, your taste buds do change.  Give yourself time and room to explore new foods and ways of eating. The results are worth it and you won’t be disappointed. 

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