Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Real Food philosophy

I remember once upon a time, when I was in university, I was required to draw up a daily menu which had to include precisely such-and-such number of calories, exact levels of protein, iron, fibers, etc. All food groups had to be represented at each meal. Compiling that menu caused me a great deal of headache, and it was, of course, used by no one eventually. 

Personally I find the idea of a fixed menu very rigid. Obviously, we should all have regular mealtimes (generally breakfast, lunch and dinner, perhaps with breaks for mid-morning and afternoon tea as well), but some days we feel hungrier than at others; sometimes we eat meat, sometimes we don't; sometimes we have a big salad, sometimes we skip vegetables altogether.

Instead of counting calories and fat percentages, here is a simple strategy I usually offer people who are trying to imrpove their eating habits and health:

1. Eat Real Food. By "Real Food" I mean food prepared in someone's home from wholesome basic ingredients such as grains, pulses, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, dairy products and eggs. You get a bonus for organic fruit and veggies and pasture-fed meat, eggs and dairy products. Real Food does not contain processed artificially flavored products, refined sugars or preservatives (obviously, this is the ideal to strive for; no one should feel guilty for not being able to follow it perfectly).

2. Eat reasonable amounts. I know "reasonable" can be a shifty term, but most people, upon honest introspection, know when they overeat. However, I believe that after a period of Real Food adjustment, people naturally begin to eat less, or rather, just as much as they need, because Real Food satisfies hunger on a deeper, more genuine level; our body feels it has been well-nourished, and no longer gives off constant signals of, "I'm hungry! I need more food!"

3. "Do I really want to eat this?" When faced by something that is definitely not Real Food, ask yourself, "Do I really crave this? Will I feel deprived if I don't get it?" You might find yourself at a wedding reception, facing the most heavenly layered cream cake. I definitely wouldn't be able to resist that. But if you just want to munch on something and find yourself reaching for a bag of chips, you can tell yourself, "This isn't Real Food, and I don't even really like it this much. Therefore, I can put it aside and look for a healthier snack... without feeling I have given up too much." 


Melanie said...

I am so with you! When I first started feeding my daughter solids, some of the best advice I received was to not worry about whether every meal was balanced, but instead, aim for a day that is balanced. So if she gets her protein at breakfast, it's ok if she wants to pick out just the fruit or rice from her lunch, and the veggies and dairy from her supper. I try to aim for the same sort of balance in my own day and not stress about each plate containing perfect nutritional proportions. So I don't guilt myself about making something like homemade macaroni and cheese for supper-I can add a vegetable side and balance the fat and wheat elsewhere!

Lady Anne said...

I try to keep fruit in the house, instead of corn chips and cheese curls. I don't like French fries, so I'm never tempted to take my husband's when we eat out.

Pop corn is good, and kids love it. A reasonable amount of nourishment, but it takes a little while to fix, and sometimes I think "Oh, I'd like some, but it's too much trouble right now."

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

I agree, homemade meals as far as it is possible and a balanced day instead of worrying about every meal containing exactly this and that. As far as overeating goes, l think a lot of people eat too quickly. It takes about 20 mins for the body to send out signals saying "l'm satisfied". If we eat slowly and chew our food well we eat less before we reach that stage. Pam

floodproofmum said...

Well said. My boys don't eat very many vegies but they are still growing taller than me. They prefer fruit, meat and bread and drink lots of milk. Not a good diet for mum but I believe the body tells you when it needs something. I crave vegies or red meat if I don't have them for a while :) Cheers, Tanya

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence that organic food is healthier than non-organic.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, perhaps not, but when I taste home-grown veggies they somehow seem more "real". Many commercial varieties are chosen rather for longer shelf-life than for flavor and nutrient content.