I hope you all have had a fabulous holiday season with family, friends, and great food. While I haven’t been posting too many recipes in the last month (let’s be honest- there’s so much food everywhere you look, there’s not a big need to cook even more), I’ve had some great conversations and questions about health at a lot of holiday dinners and parties this season. It seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, and how appropriate with January’s resolutions a few days away!
It’s so apparent that people are starting to care more about their health- it’s everywhere these days. In magazines, newspapers, on TV, we are constantly bombarded with messages about what to do to be “healthy”. Every article, story, or scientific study has a new specific claim about what you have to do and eat to be healthy. Have you ever noticed that every study or article says something different? So not only are people confused, but our own way of judging the accurateness of a study is all wrong too. We’ve been told some messages over and over that we believe them, but are they even correct?
Take, for example, this question I received on Monday night. We were all at dinner in Seattle and someone started talking about this guy they heard on the radio who claimed his key to health and longevity was eating only 1 meal a day, at night. They incredulously looked at me to confirm that this was outrageous right, Sarah?
Actually, no it’s not. Eating one main meal a day is actually a very healthy thing to do, and I do it all the time.
But- don’t you need to eat 6 meals a day to keep your metabolism up? If you don’t, your body thinks its going into starvation mode, doesn’t it?
Everyone at the table nodded in agreement. Yes, I know that is what you always hear, I said. But, think about it. If you are eating when you are not hungry, your body is telling you it’s not ready for food yet. If it was, you would get hungry. It’s either working on food you ate the night before or eating your fat stores. The more you eat as a programmed robot, the more fat you will become.
Intrigued, everyone kept watching me.
“But what if you get so cranky that you have to keep eating all day long?”
Well, I said, then I can tell you are not eating real food. (Real food being what this entire blog is based on- food that has been around forever, nutrient dense foods, foods that kids can recognize and foods that have very little ingredients on the label, if there is a label at all). When you eat real food, your body can digest and assimilate it so much better- it can actually use that food as energy instead of storing it as fat. Instead, we are taught to watch our calories (whether they are useful calories or not doesn’t seem to matter), work out like a maniac, and eat all the time. Doesn’t sound like much fun, huh? It’s not. And it definitely doesn’t make you any healthier, skinnier, or built.
I’m not advocating starving yourself or anything like that, but the truth is, we’re such worriers about our food intake. If you eat better quality raw materials for your body, you will function better and with less food overall.
As we approach 2011, I really challenge you to think twice about all that advice floating around. Does it really make sense? Do you agree with it just because it’s something that you’ve heard so many times? Are there other motives behind the studies? A prime example of this is the concept that everyone should be eating dairy for strong bones. We need calcium, right? That’s what the Got Milk? campaign says at least.
However, the dairy industry contributes the most money per capita to the USDA organization. You know, the ones that create the food pyramid and back all the milk and protein and dairy commercials? They aren’t saying to eat dairy because it’s truly good for you- they say that because they make huge amounts of money for saying it, and even more when people believe it and buy those products in bulk every week. Apple farmers, however, don’t make much of a profit, and are therefore useless for the USDA to promote. It’s a little scary, isn’t it?
So as we approach a brand new year, I encourage you all to get a little bit more educated about what you are truly doing for your health. Don’t get fooled by rumors and speculation. It’s time to take it in your own hands and not just rely on what you are told.
Let’s make it a goal to be just a little bit healthier- cleaner, and wiser in our food choices this year. Make a pact to ignore any claims you see on foods in the store. Don’t believe everything you read- find out for yourself.
If you would like some great book suggestions, reading materials, or more help on getting healthier this year, let me know. May you have the happiest of New Years!