It’s hard to write a philosophy on food… there are always exceptions and I am forever-learning (which you’ll notice as you scan through my posts… the recipes I created when first starting this blog are different from the ones I create now- not only in format, but in ingredient-choice, as well; as I learn and change, my recipes change with me). That being said, there are certain beliefs I hold true no matter what current fad is out there. Simply put, my philosophy revolves around these five simple thoughts:
1- food should be real
“Real food” is a term used to describe food that’s, well real. So much of the food in our grocery stores is so modified, so processed, that it hardly even qualifies as food by the time it gets there. In a real food world, food is how mother nature intended it to be… natural. It can be hard to determine sometimes what is natural though. The way I gauge it is by asking myself, “What did this product go through to get here?” For many ingredients, it’s an easy answer… “it fell from a tree and was driven here” or ”it was milked from a cow and bottled.” For the majority of grocery goods though, the process is far more complicated… to the point where products have been so treated that they are barely the food they began as. (This is why farmer’s markets are so wonderful; you know what you’re getting and where it came from!) So how can you tell how processed your food is? It’s simple; look at the ingredients list. A quick glance at the ingredients will tell you right away how treated something is. If the ingredients are straight-forward (foods you’ve heard of and could feasibly use in your kitchen), chances are you’re good to go… but if it’s a list of twelve-letter words you can’t even pronounce, suspicions should rise. That’s not to say all processed foods are horrible… sometimes buying something that has been slightly processed lends us a helping-hand (spinach that’s been cut and pre-washed, for example), but many times, the processing presents barriers to our health. So look at the ingredients and determine if the product is something you could make at home. In general, the fewer the ingredients something has in it, the less processed it is. Think less is more. :) For more info. on wise grocery-store choices, the Weston A. Price Foundation offers a plethora of knowledge. Visit their site here http://www.westonaprice.org/.
2- eating should be fun
All too frequently, people become so consumed making sure they’re eating “right” that they lose the enjoyment of it all. Food shouldn’t be something that makes us feel guilty. As a girl with like zero will power, I know how difficult it can be to indulge guilt-free… but, if what we’re indulging in is “real food” to begin with, this really shouldn’t really be an issue. Eat some butter, use whole milk, and enjoy ice cream… but just make sure that it’s done in balance (I can’t stress balance enough- if you need a rule, the 80/20 rule is a good one to follow… 80 percent of the time you eat well, allow yourself some treats and “cheating” the other 20). You should enjoy what you eat, as should your body. Which brings me to the next point…
3- know your body
Just like our personalities, all of our bodies are different. While the person next to you might be able to eat bread and milk without repercussions, you may not. (So frustrating, I know.) Listen to your body; if it becomes upset at the things you are ingesting, stop ingesting them. Seems simple enough, right? For many, gluten causes bloating, headaches, and an overall feeling of lethargy (for some its effects are far more serious). Some bodies don’t like lactose, some don’t do well with corn. Know your body, and listen to it intently. (While I don’t personally eat entirely gluten-free, I try to make choices that I know mesh well with my body. For example, sourdough is already fermented, so it is more easily digestible than other breads. Similarly, raw milk and raw cheeses are typically gentlest on the body; while I don’t eat raw dairy and sourdough only, it’s great to know that such options are available and I make efforts whenever possible!) Hear your body out and pay attention to what it’s saying. You and it will be happier in the long run if you do.
4- avoid “diets” and gimmicks
I have been a victim of this, too… I’m pretty sure we all have at some point in our lives. I am fortunate to have grown up in a healthy home… my mom cooked nutritiously and we always had well-balanced meals. But still, I would choose non-fat or low-fat yogurts, skim milk, and get sucked in to the newest “healthy” thing. I thought I was doing good… I thought this was the “right” thing to do. Once I began researching more about nutrition and “real” food, I started realizing I was wrong. This was not an overnight switch; re-learning takes time. When I first heard that fat was good, I was extremely skeptical… I just couldn’t buy it. I wanted to, logically, but I still couldn’t comfortably walk into a store and buy the full-fat milk. Once I allowed myself to let go of all previous notions of nutrition- what I thought was the “right” thing- I began shifting my old ways and opening my mind. Milk doesn’t come out of a cow as 2%, so why I am drinking it that way? It finally dawned on me that the best thing for me is what nature made for me. What a relief this new thinking was! I now can enjoy full-fat milk, butter in my eggs, and ice cream without the guilt (number 2 above- eating should be fun). Again, it’s all about balance… I don’t sit and eat spoonfuls of butter and cream by the heap, but I do LOVE allowing myself to enjoy such indulgences, and I can do so more now that I am eating real food.
About the non-fats and fat-frees… when something is taken out, other things are added in. Most non-fat and low-fat products have a ton of added sugar and thickener (usually flour) to make them more creamy and delicious. So while it doesn’t have the fat, it has ingredients that are far worse for your health. It seemed like a clear choice to me; fat from nature or fillers from a machine… I chose nature.
5- be open to learning more
Last, and most important to me. It’s hard to know what’s best until you learn more. Knowledge = wisdom = well-being = happiness. And that’s all I have to say about that!