Food Is Confusing!

Let’s start with the obvious: it is incredibly confusing to know what to eat today! If you’ve read any news in the last few years, you have probably heard plenty of talk demonizing carbohydrates and gluten. A few years ago, it was all about “low fat”. That might explain the extra 20 lbs I used to carry since I literally wolfed down piles of fat-free everything believing the absence of fat gave me a free pass to eat more. Now it seems we finally understand that eating low fat does not mean you can eat unlimited fig newtons and not gain weight. Likewise, common sense should tell us that eating boxes of gluten free cracker and bowls of gluten-free noodles, however healthful the promises they offer, will make us neither thin nor necessarily healthy. Our world abounds with confusing messages and promises of 6-pack abs and glowing health with a specific diet: low carb, low fat, gluten free, Paleo, Ketogenic, Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Mediterranean, etc. The truth is that there is no magic bullet or ‘one size fits all’ for health, optimal weight, energy and longevity.

Luckily, we have moved past the idea of calories in equal calories out for weight control. That theory would put 100 calories of Coke on the same playing field as 100 calories of broccoli. Think about how you would feel running on 1000 calories of Coke versus 1000 calories of broccoli. Your mood, energy, digestion, skin tone, satiation would all play out incredibly differently. Food is more than macronutrients like protein, carbs, fat and micronutrients of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Food is information for our bodies; it tells our cells how to function. Food can change the expression of our DNA. This can mean the difference between ‘getting diabetes because it’s in my family’ or ‘having heart problems because my grandparents had them.’ Genetics are not your destiny; lifestyle choices amount to 90% of the outcome of whether chronic diseases in your family are ever expressed. Whoah. That is major. It’s also wonderful to know you have that power over your health! We’ve actually known this for a long time: “You are what you eat” (and what you eat eats, but we’ll get into that another day). It’s possible many of us have lost this basic idea as we’ve been barraged by promises that a certain food or regimen is the panacea of health.

So before we go further into depth about carbohydrates and why we so often encourage limiting them (the simple, processed ones anyway) on our weight loss programs, let it sink in that the quality of what you eat will affect how you look, think, feel, sleep, how long you live, and whether you will be affected by chronic diseases. Choose wisely, my friend. Let’s get back to basic, real food. Author and activist Michael Pollen said it best: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

And remember: “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” – Oscar Wilde

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