Repeat after Me: Food is not the Devil

I love food. I mean, I really, really love food. I love to cook it, grow it, bake it and especially eat it.

Eating fish

So I find it very sad how often food is vilified. Sad and ironic, because despite this vilification, we’re fatter than ever. I think we should take that as simple proof that seeing food as the problem is not an effective, healthy mindset.

Despite how much I love food, how much I love to eat, and yes, how much I actually eat, I am not fat. I am sure that part of  it is to do with genetics; some, certainly is to do with activity level. But I’ll still give myself some credit for my health. Have I ever dieted? Nope. Do I feel deprived? Never. (Ok, well sometimes I’d like to have 2 and only allow myself 1, but that’s not exactly deprivation.)

I’m not a fitness, nutrition or health expert. I’m not a doctor. But others have found my philosophy on food and health helpful, so I thought I would share. This “philosophy” isn’t necessarily my own. It comes from everywhere–books, magazines, tips from friends, my upbringing, travels and trial and error. It’s also not a weight-loss “solution” or diet plan–it’s just a collection of thoughts I find helpful to stay on track!

The tenets: 

Stop thinking “I must eat less” and start thinking “I must eat better”

We need food to survive. There are lots of important things in food that contribute to our health. I like to think of the number of calories I need in a day as precious real estate. When you consider all of the nutrients and vitamins we need, you’ll realize it’s a challenge to consume all of the good things we should be eating in a day!

Harvard Public Health’s Food Pyramid.

Educate yourself about what you’re eating. 

Through various courses, books, discussions with friends, documentaries, I have learned a lot about what’s in the food we eat. This information really inspires me to only put healthy things in my body. There are plenty of excellent resources. “Foodie intellectual” Michael Pollan‘s work or a documentary like “Food, Inc.” is a great place to start!

Consider Michael Pollan’s simple advice: 

Eat food. Mostly vegetables. Not too much.

In his book, In Defense of Food, Pollan makes a big point about focusing on eating REAL food. Basic, unprocessed, not chemically manufactured or altered food. And the message is simple: if we eat food, real food, and not too much of it, it should be pretty easy to stay healthy.

Don’t buy junk.

This is a basic one. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. Don’t keep soda, chips, candy and such in your house. When they’re in my house, I eat them, too. So just don’t buy them. Simple.

Enjoy Eating

Having a healthy mindset about food and making eating an enjoyable, guilt-free process is, in my opinion, very important. Eating should be a wonderful experience–to enjoy with friends and family, to relish and to delight in. Not something to do in shame, in the kitchen alone, in secret, with sadness. Food should be happy.

Unforgettable dinner at Konoba Menego in Hvartown, Croatia, on our honeymoon.

Unforgettable dinner at Konoba Menego in Hvartown, Croatia, on our honeymoon.

***

This advice is pretty simple, but it’s all about having a positive mindset and being mindful about what I eat.

What advice and tips do you have to eat well and stay healthy?

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9 responses to “Repeat after Me: Food is not the Devil

  1. Yes, Jean, we should not do ” diets” but look at it more as a “lifestyle change in eating”. This way, we don’t feel like a failure if we tend to deviate. I am totally into checking the fat content and sodium on all food now. It is unbelievable how much sodium is in foods we eat everyday. To get less sodium, you will find you are going for more healthy foods with fibre, lentils, beans, fruits and veggies.
    When shopping and I get a craving “I gotta have this” I just look at the sodium content and I can drop it back so easily.
    Pretty bad that seniors tend to go for single meals ie: stouffers, lean cuisine, etc. and they are loaded with sodium.
    You look great so you must be doing things right!

    • I find meal planning is really helpful for avoiding grocery store temptation! I will invariably plan healthy meals with a set budget in mind, so when I go into the store I focus only on getting the items for those meals. It works well to keep it on target, both for budgeting and healthy eating. And yup, it’s amazing how much crap is in a lot of processed food–so much so that you really begin to see it as not being food at all!

  2. I love this post! I’ve struggled a lot with weight loss and fitness over the years.. and it wasn’t until I adopted this philosophy that I’ve finally been succeeding.

    For the last 2.5 months I’ve eliminated processes food completely and lost nearly 20 pounds without counting as single calorie, weighing a serving size, etc… I just eat things as they come from nature. I almost certainly eat less than I had been because what I’m eating is nourishing me, and I have more energy to be active.

    Eating doesn’t stress me out anymore. Going out to eat doesn’t make panic set in because I don’t fear fat or carbs, etc… I know how to choose something from a menu that can be a treat that’s both delicious but also still good for me, and I’ve never once felt deprived of anything. That’s partially because I don’t consider processed, garbage food to be a “treat” anymore.

    • I’m glad this has been working well for you! I don’t want to come across as know-it-allish, because I know that weight loss can be a big challenge and a complex issue, but sometimes I think paring it back to a more simplified approach and mindset can really help! Congrats on your success. Can’t wait to enjoy some good food with you soon! :)

      • For sure! Simple is best. Michael Pollen talks about how ridiculous it is that we’ve essentially forgotten how to eat – such a basic human survival function. And it’s true.

        When you start eating only food and not boxes of foodstuffs you realize that it’s really not that hard and your body responds and tells you what it wants.

        And, when you eat good food that’s nutritionally dense like someone else said, you stop craving things, starving in the middle of the day, and being all loopy. I feel better at my current weight while eating heathy than I did when I was 25 pounds lighter in college living off of frozen meals, fat free yogurt, and sugar free cool whip (ewwww). I may have lost a crap ton of weight back then, but I also grew a melon-sized, hormone-imbalance-induced tumor, and I can’t imagine the two were unrelated.

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