Saturday, January 8, 2011

A few words on diet

So Happy New Year all. I thought I'd start out by talking about that four letter word that sends everybody into a frenzy - diet. 
What is diet? Is it a noun - A diet is food habitually eaten, or is it a verb I've dieted for years and my weight is like a yo-yo, or even an adjective - I'd like a diet soft drink (blech)?
How come it is okay to talk about animals and their diet but not okay to speak of humans in the same manner? How come it is okay to say - flamingos have a diet of crustaceans with a carotenoid pigment that colors their feathers? And not - I have a diet of proteins, fats, veggies, fruit and whole grains? (or in some cases they have a diet of corn, corn, and more corn).
Why do we cringe when we say diet? Because, typically diets means deprivation, starvation and misery. But not for this lady. I commonly speak of my diet in conversation. I also talk freely using the word diet to simply explain how one eats. My family - husband, kids, myself; is not starving, nor overweight, we're healthy, our clothes are normal sizes, we can run, climb, jump and generally feel great. In fact - now that I think about it - we rarely get sick.
I read something disturbing in last month's Organic Gardening Magazine - which I already knew but they put it so well - obesity is a sign of hunger. Wow - how much sense does that make to laymen? If you know anything about nutrition, you will know it is completely true. 
For example - a girlfriend of mine said something this week that just made me want to write - she said she skipped lunch and was so hungry (around 2:00PM). She said, "And that's a really bad thing." This girlfriend has some weight issues that she struggles with due to her life/work balance and  schedule which causes her to skip meals, crave fats and sugars rather than something healthy like nutrient rich proteins, veggies, fruits and whole grains, because she's starving. After she indulges in satiating her immediate craving in an overindulgent way, her body use up what she eats for immediate brain and life support energy (which she does not spend exercising), and stores the rest because her body knows she's going to starve it again and again.
This is why many children in this country are obese and hungry at the same time - not because they are eating too many healthy nutritious foods. Because, believe me, if you food is nutritious, and you even only eat one large meal a day and possibly snack on fruit and veggies the rest of the day - you will not be starving. In fact, if you do not have underlying medical issues or psychological issues which make food turn against you and you are not already extremely overweight, you most-likely will not become obese from eating nutritious food.
One of the first mistakes of people who assume they eat nutritious food is label reading. If you are reading a label, 8 times out of 10 the food has been manufactured - first and foremost in the "no-no" list if you want a healthy diet - there are exceptions - but not many. Ah, convenience - something processed, packaged and made up to look desirable - don't we all love it? But, a-hem, excuse me, this is mother nature speaking - didn't I do that for you already with my apples, bananas, pears, carrots, celery, peas, tomatoes and so on?
Do I have processed stuff in my house? You betcha. Gluten free flours, cheese, ice cream, gluten free baked goods, corn chips, rice crackers, condiments, and some cereals (these are actually from guests and from times when I had the little angels with me - mommy I want 'dat', yet the sit for months). What do you have?
Many people who consider themselves nutrition experts say to avoid corn, soy, dairy, wheat, and sugar. Okay so what else is there to eat? Well there's plenty - but I think this is a very tough statement if you are eating non-manufactured foods. The issue is that the above ingredients are in almost every processed food on the shelf. So if you eat even more of it, on your sandwich, in your pasta bowl, with your steak (or in your steak for that matter if you eat grain fed meats), you're not balancing your diet and the processed forms have no or low nutrients. There's that word again - diet.
So this is a great segue into the second half of this entry. My New Year's Resolution is to get even more veggies into my family's diet. While doing that I really need to cleanse. The holidays have left a heavy feeling in me - something I think may be due to many factors - but definitely overindulgence on things with lower nutritional value.
So, starting Sunday (because I need to go to Farmers Market) we are changing our diet. We already eat on the healthy side but now our diet is going to be organized differently.
Typically we're 30% whole grains, 30% veggies/fruit, 40% proteins and fats - because so often these are together for example dairy, animal protein and nuts all have high protein with fat content.
I'm changing us to 35% veggies, 15% fruit, 10% beans, 20% whole grains and 20% proteins and fats (non bean). So we're still getting 40% proteins but I've shifted to beans and away from grains and fruit. Grains are good, but with gluten intolerance running rampant around here I'm going to see if this helps.
What will the typical day look like from a meal perspective?
Quinoa cereal with squash puree and sunflower seeds (grain, veggie, protein/fats)
Snack - piece of fruit and handful of seeds or nuts (fruit, protein/fats)
Bean and vegetable soup with salad of pressed pickles (beans, veggies, veggies)
Snackpiece of fruit and raw cheese (fruit, protein/fats)
Poached fish (or a 4oz serve of grass fed meat), wild rice, vegetables with broccoli and apple-plum vinegar dressing (protein, grain, veggies)
Ice cream or yogurt with fruit (fruit, protein/fats)
Oh yeah - you bet we snack...healthy snacks keep you from starving. Grabbing food the way mother nature intended is the best!
We drink fresh juices, teas with honey and water.
Luckily my younger son's school serves whole foods and i make lunch for my older son so this shouldn't be that difficult. My oldest likes anything you can dip so veggie/bean purees with whole grain pita works. A bit of fruit and he's got a solid lunch.
Recipes and more on how it is going this week. Until then, enjoy your diet! Don't dread it.