Food is an important topic. It has a direct impact on our health, finances, and happiness.
Due to the importance of eating the right food, many legitimate and illegitimate diet plans have been marketed.
Growing up in the late 20th century, I’ve seen the back and forth between the fads of low fat, low sugar, low salt, and so on. In particular, during my childhood the era of low fat reigned supreme, where eating Twizzlers, Oreos, and other snacks was fine, so long as it said “low fat” on the box.
But with increasing weight and negative health outcomes from our diets, many of us in the developed world are starting to relook at our diet. What should we be eating?
What is a Diet?
Quick, let’s define what a diet is.
From an evolutionary biology standpoint, a diet is the collection of food that an animal eats. It’s the normal base of food and nutrition that an organism is designed to be able to catch/gather, eat, and digest, for it’s bodily needs.
As humans, we’ve changed the word diet to primarily focus on a form of weight management. So instead of defining what we need to live healthily for our bodies, the definition of a diet has shifted as a way categorize what food we should be eating for “losing weight.”
But let’s not pretend that we are anything more than very fancy monkeys. We are animals. And like every other animal, our bodies have adapted for a range of foods we have evolved to catch/gather, eat, and digest (our natural diet). So in order to take a more simple approach to your diet, I suggest you view your diet as a way to be healthy with your body, not manage weight.
The Simple Diet
I follow a very simple diet – I eat food.
I eat things that either grew in the ground, or ate what grew in the ground. Real food.
If I can’t tell how some “food” was made using actual plants or meat, I don’t eat it. If it comes in a box, doesn’t spoil, or has a long list of ingredients, I don’t eat it. That’s not food, that’s a manufactured food product.
That’s the simple diet. Just be aware of what you are eating – only eat real food.
This simple diet is not really anything more than the diet that our bodies have evolved to need. Our teeth, stomach, and intestines have evolved to eat plant matter and meat. We were NOT made to drink soda, eat cookies, or eat pizza.
The health benefits of following our natural human diet are real. When you eat the diet your body evolved for, suddenly weight management and energy levels are easier to manage. Eating real food allows your body to better manage blood sugar and hormone levels. If you combine with moderate exercise levels and portion sizes, you’ll develop a healthy weight overtime.
Simple Eating Tips
The best part of eating your natural diet? It’s simple. No counting calories. No special labels to look for. If it looks like food, it’s food. Here are some other tips:
Shop round the outside of the grocery store. If you are eating real food, microorganisms will know it is real food as well. That means that the food will go bad, and needs to be kept fresh. If you shop around the outside of the grocery store, the produce area, meat market, and refrigerated/frozen section, you will stay close to where the real food is. Avoid the center shelves.
The less ingredients, the better. Have you ever seen a nutritional label on a head of broccoli? The longer the list of ingredients on a “food product”, the further away from actual food it is. Look for food with no ingredient labels, or at the very least, few ingredients listed.
“You are what you eat” mindset. Develop a mindset of viewing food as your source of energy, and not a source of hunger/boredom mitigation. Remember you are what you eat, and that food effects the way your body functions, down to the cellular level. Eating a simple diet of real food allows your body to get exactly what it needs to be healthy. Junk food and processed foods are not just “bad for you”, they can literally damage your body. Eating real food is a sign of self respect.
For further reading on nutrition, I highly recommend you check out the author Michael Pollan, specifically “In Defense of Food”.
laura ann says
Sometimes you have to go to the center shelves for tea, coffee, spices vinegar, oils, etc. Most foods sold are fake and mixed with toxic ingredients. I read labels if in doubt.
Good point Laura. It’s best to do a MAJORITY of your shopping on the outside of the store. You’re not going to find trash bags in the refrigerated section!
I love that book! My problem is that I am a coupon junkie and pulling away from them has proved difficult. Most food coupons are on processed items that claim they are healthy. I depend on them less, but I cannot pass up a good deal even when I know fresh produce is better for me in the long run. What is your take on wheat pasta and Greek yogurt?
I completely agree that more often than not, the deals are on processed food. I believe a major cause of that is the agriculture policy is for subsidies to go towards core ingredients of processed food: corn, soy, wheat, and dairy.
I personally am willing to have a slightly higher grocery bill each week in order to avoid food that has a negative impact on my wellbeing. For me, that means limiting grains, dairy, and seed oils, and seeking out more vegetables, meat, and seafood.
A huge asterisks though is that everybody’s body is different. I believe there is one perfect way to eat for everybody. You should find what works for you within the confines of a healthy overall food selection.
Amen. Just lost 50lbs in six months by not eating crap. No sugar, and nothing that is white, or could be made white. No liquid carbs either, ie beer. Weight just melted off me, well actually, I breathed it out. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, all that carbon had to go somewhere, and 86% of it I exhaled as CO2 and water. Now, I need to keep it off, by…eating food, not eating crap.
Good stuff Dave! Amazing how our bodies become healthy when we eat actual food…