One to two hundred years ago the field of nutrition really didn’t exist. Sure, there has always been cultural guidance when it comes to nutrition and health but no such thing as nutritionists or dietitians with whom people could visit to be put on a “healthy” diet. I put “healthy” in quotations because there are so many interpretations of what healthy actually is.
Now days, there are thousands of programs, philosophies and people that have made a business out of telling people what to eat! It’s a booming business and people are happy to spend money on it. Interestingly the philosophies each nutritionist preaches are all quite different. One school of thought recommends a plant-based diet where another relies on animal fat and milk! Who’s right? Despite all the research, nobody really knows.
After years of studying nutrition and health, I can tell you one truth which has stuck with me… Eating REAL, unprocessed food is the fail-safe way to go. Michael Pollen famously quoted, “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” and this probably some of the best advice out there right now.
To add on to Pollan’s concise and brilliant comment, I share this addition…
Eat mostly the foods that your Great-great grandmother would recognize as food.
Sorry friends, this means that Cheetos and MSG-laden ramen soup out of a Styrofoam container does not count. Nor do triple shot caramel macchiatos, Oreos, hot dogs, Goldfish, and slushies.
On the other hand, it does mean moderate consumption of other recently “forbidden” foods is okay (if you don’t have a food allergy). Foods on this list include the WHOLE egg, whole fat cream and yogurt, grass-fed butter, and even bacon in moderation (though I would stick with organic, nitrate-free due to some of the additional processing they do with conventional meat products). It also means an abundance of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso and an plethora of fruits and vegetables. Great-great grandma probably wouldn’t recognize a sweetened dried mango covered in sugar, but she would recognize a ripe and fresh mango from the produce section. She also may not recognize all the extra sugar and chemicals in your diet soda but she would share an iced tea with lemon on a hot afternoon.
Of course, I could go on and on with examples, but this post is just to get the brain turning and thinking more deeply about food choices. Do you really know where your food is coming from? What percentage of your diet would your great-great grandmother recognize as real food?
In honor of my grandmother’s 100th birthday, here is a recent picture of her and I with my mother and first nephew. We can learn so much from our families and our heritage about personalizing our health. And just so you know, she cooked with lard and love for all her life 🙂
p.s. Don’t worry, she does recognize the ingredients in your raw kale and avocado smoothie.