Food. Health. Diet. Hunger. & Your Body.
My last post spurred a conversation about healthy eating and diet. The very first comment suggested I try diet soda in my recipe in lieu of eggs and oil to make it “healthier.”
I use scare quotes around the word “healthier” because I vehemently disagree with the commenter’s apparent definition of healthy. Being healthy does NOT mean cutting out fat and calories. It does not mean substituting whole foods like oil and eggs with aspartame and artificial coloring. Being healthy means giving your body what it needs to function.
I responded, and reiterate, We shouldn’t be afraid of calories.
Calories are not the enemy. We were created to eat REAL FOOD, not artificial sweeteners, not processed cheese, not low-cal zero-trans-fat olean-oil potato chips. And guess what. Real food has calories. Calories are fuel that energize your body. Maintaining a balanced calorie-to-activity balance is what keeps you from gaining weight or suffering from unhealthy side effects.
The diet industry is bastardizing nutrition. We’re inundated with messages from Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, SlimFast, etc, that tell us that healthy = thin and thin = product use. But, these companies hawk substance low in fat and low in calories but with little-to-no nutritional value to convince you that you’re eating healthy.
You’re not. You’re ingesting processed foods and depriving your body of real food.
After the Twitterverse discussed healthy eating vs. diet eating, I decided to pose the question to a wider, more diverse audience, my facebook friends: “What is your definition of diet?”
The answers pleasantly surprised me:
“The food you eat – whatever quantity or quality that may be.”
“Something that other people (mostly women) do when they need to fit into a dress for a specific event. Alternatively, what my neurologist made me change so I won’t get migraines so often.”
“Bad… It has the word ‘die’ in it.”
“it depends on the context. i think the 2 most common definitions would be the daily regimen of food you eat, or a specialized plan for eating that is used to lose weight.”
“A ‘diet’ for me is fruits and veggies and chicken and soup.”
My definition: What you consciously choose to put into your body to be converted into energy.
Dictionary.com definition: Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.
In the dictionary definition, there is no mention of losing weight. That’s not what a true diet is.
Joe and I consciously choose a lot of whole foods. We can’t always afford to eat all organic, but we can afford (and save money) to eat whole foods. I’m not going to stand up here on a soapbox and say we don’t eat Kraft mac and cheese regularly or that we’ve cut all high fructose corn syrup out of our diets. But I’m telling you that when given the choice between kale chips baked with olive oil and low-fat Pringles, we’re going to choose the kale every time.
You’d be surprised what your body authentically craves if you’d listen to it. Take the time to cut fast food and cheap processed food out of your diet for just a day or so. When you’re hungry, consider what you’d like to eat. When I did this experiment, I found myself craving raw mushrooms dipped in salad dressing. Nowadays, I prefer all-fruit smoothies to milkshakes, kale chips to potato chips, homemade casserole to Hamburger Helper, unsweetened iced tea to Diet Pepsi, and real cream and sugar in my coffee instead of Equal and CoffeeMate.
Fat and calories are not the enemy. In moderation, they are great for you and your body needs them to function.
Instead of counting calories, assess what you eat. Rethink healthy. Rethink diet. Listen to your authentic hunger.