I really hate the word “diet” because the vast majority of people associate it with some kind of strict, no-fun diet to lose weight. If you put the word “diet” in a search engine, the first things to come up are various diet programs for weight loss. In all my years of practice, I have never suggested anyone go on a “diet” for better health and/or weight loss. However, I often suggested eating “different.”
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If we are trying to loose some weight it’s not about “how much we eat.” It’s all about “what” we eat. Overweight people might feel guilty for eating so much, when in reality their bodies are telling them to eat more. When the body needs nutrients, it tells us to eat. When we don’t eat food with nutrients, the body says, “Eat again.” And again. It’s not screaming for calories — it’s screaming for nutrition.
There are six main groups of nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. We need them all in various quanities.
Food is the fuel that runs everything, water is the lubrication to make sure that things run smoothly. Our body needs very specific essential nutrients. These nutrients are vital for disease prevention and good health. The body cannot make all of these essential nutrients on its own, at least, not in sufficient quantity. They must come from our food.
Learning the difference between real food and “fake” food starts with reading the ingredient labels. Most things that come in a package, box, bag, can, or bottle are processed foods. The ingredients added to them in the processing make these foods more appealing to our eyes and our taste buds. We want it bigger, juicier, saltier, and sweeter.
Three of the main ingredients that make us go “yum” are highly processed fat, sugar, and salt. They encourage an addictive cycle that many people struggle with. Real foods, on the other hand, have naturally-occurring amino acids, vitamins, minerals, glucose, fatty acids, fiber, and many other nutrients that do not perpetuate an addiction. I wish they did. Real foods do not contain artificial additives or preservatives either.
“Food additives” is a blanket term for the countless chemical concoctions designed to mimic natural flavors. A single artifical flavoring can be created from hundreds of individual chemicals, and since the 1950s, the number of food additives allowed in food has grown from hundreds to thousands here in the US.
GRAS (generally recognized as safe) is a term that was coined in 1958 and became the standard for how the FDA recognized and regulated food production. The standard before GRAS required food companies to submit all ingredients of a product to the FDA for review. Since it seemed to Congress that that would be wasting the FDA’s time to review every ingredient, they added a loophole allowing companies to determine that their ingredients were GRAS, therefore not needing FDA approval. In other words, a company can hire an industry insider to evaluate a chemical, determine if it meets safety standards, and deem it GRAS. Now there is no need to inform the FDA of all the ingredients. Many of the companies making the additives are headquartered overseas where food regulations are vastly different than that of the United States. What could go wrong?
In keeping it simple: Let’s just try to eat REAL food as often as possible and ditch the fake stuff. By doing so we can loose some excess weight, become healthier and offer our body the immune system boost it needs to fight off disease and illness.
We need to take care of our body
it’s the only place we have to live
Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.
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