Food: Eating Healthy

This would seem like an easy thing to do, have a healthy diet.  When you google eating healthy, there are many hits.  There are medical websites, nutrition websites, and weight loss websites. They all have similar things to say, with just a little bit of a twist, here and there. Some websites have things to sell, which is always a red flag on how legitimate their advice is on eating healthy. All the  sites are better at telling you what to avoid, rather than what to eat.  In general, they tell you to eat a wide variety of foods, mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.  That about sums it up,  end of blog.  No, it is definitely not that easy.  You would think that eating healthy and weight loss would go hand in hand. Unfortunately it does not. These sites do not break down foods well enough, to balance the good and the bad. I am  going to break down foods, that I consider overrated and some that are not given enough credit, for being healthy.  I am going to discuss some nutrition “facts” that in my view, are far from proven. I looked through about 50 websites.  What follows is a composite of these websites and with my views sprinkled in. I can not rank any website as outstanding and most of what they say is the same thing, so I am not going to mention any particular site.

First, lets get to the easy stuff, what is bad.  The first and foremost is soft drinks.  They have not one redeeming quality.  I know I love a Coke once in awhile, so I can’t say I never drink them, but I try to limit them to 2 per month.  Fatty meat is a big no no.  It is hard to not like  fat,  when you here on the food channel, that fat is the flavor.  One thing everybody can do when they buy a steak is to trim off more fat.  Every little bit helps.  Sugar is bad, which is what makes pop so bad.  Stay away from sugar if possible.  Think of it as a dessert only food. This can help you avoid it,  during the day.  Please stay away form diet pop, it is even worse for you than regular pop, but that is a whole other blog.  Stay away from the typical snacks, they are high in fat, and calorie dense. Stay away from highly processed foods, like bacon, lunch meats, and energy bars.  Some processed foods can be better than others, but it is best to stay away. Eating these things in very limited quantities, is the best way to go. The one that is the hardest to avoid is bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

Now, for the so called good stuff, that may not be as good as you think.  I feel the most over rated food is the nut.  The so called benefits of nuts, is far out weighed by how calorie dense they are, and this is any nut you can think of.  An 8 ounce container of peanuts has over 1600 calories. I could eat that in less than a half hour.  I saw none of this emphasized, on the sites I visited. The second overrated food is fruit.  Now, fruit has more benefit than nuts, but it comes at the cost of sugar.  Some fruits are worse than others, but even the so called lower sugar fruits have 7 to 9 grams of sugar per serving.  Some of the low sugar fruits are not even the kind you eat, like lemons and cranberries.  So if you are watching calories or sugar, go easy on the fruit.  On the other side of the coin I consider dairy products the most underrated food.  Skim milk is a great source of Vitamin D and protein.  Eggs are low fat and high in protein.  Yogurt has many positive effects for you intestinal tract and health.  Even cheese is not all that bad for you, but  limit some cheeses, due to the fat content.  The big knock on dairy products is their digestibility. The lactose intolerant group can not eat dairy products, and this is understandable, but the entire world is not lactose intolerant.  There is a theory that we were able to digest milk when we were infants, but as we age our ability to digest dairy becomes less.  Again, this is not true for most of us.  If you have no problem with dairy products then eat more, because it is very nutritious with very little down side. Vegetables are definitely the super food.  The more you eat, the better your health is  going to be. But certain vegetables, you still  have to be cautious.  Any vegetable that is high in Vitamin A, such as carrots,  you must eat with some moderation. Vitamin A is stored and processed in the liver and consuming large amounts of Vitamin A could cause some liver issues if done chronically.

Then there is the one nutrition saying, that states breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This statement has been far from proven.  There are lots of studies on this, although you could argue not enough, and the conclusions are still variable.  First, the number one reason that people don’t eat breakfast in the morning, is they do not have enough time. Maybe the results of not eating breakfast in morning, such as low energy, eating unhealthy snacks, and binge eating, could be attributed to a lack of sleep, and rushing in the morning. To me, the so called controlled studies about eating breakfast, were not all that well controlled.  Why not make sure that people are getting enough sleep, get up early enough to leisurely get ready for school and work, then skip breakfast, and see how they feel the rest of the day, compared to people, who did the same thing, but ate breakfast.  For me when I get up in the morning after a good nights sleep, I am not hungry.   Why should I eat?  This is the other area where I think nutrition falls short, and that is listening to you own body.  If you are not hungry in the morning why should you eat?  Despite what I wrote about the foods I think are underrated, if any of those foods make your digestive tract uncomfortable, then by all means avoid them. That doesn’t mean if potato chips are something easy for you to digest, that you should eat a half of bag full during the day. Remember to listen to your body, and that all foods have some drawbacks, even if they are reported to be healthy foods. There are plenty of choices out there, so stay away from the definite bad and still be cautious on what is supposed to be good.   In future blogs I will touch upon some of these things in more depth, especially the breakfast thing, which I find fascinating.

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