Let's Always Re-Evaluate How We Eat
I think it would be fair to say that we didn't grow up eating in the optimal way. That eating well comes with age. I often chat with people who didn't eat all that well during their childhood, and that their diets improved as they got older. I know this was the case for me. My parents always made sure we had vegetables, grains, and proteins for dinner, whether I liked it or not. They did a great job of feeding us healthy home cooked meals. But at school and on the side I was doing everything I could to get my hands on sugar. I LOVED sugar. Still do. But I certainly don't eat like I used to. I started caring about what I ate in college, around the time I was introduced to rock climbing. I was always an athlete, high school and college crew, and burned so many calories that I would just eat whatever I could after practice. The food I was eating my freshman year of college rowing was so bad. We exercised so hard that my appetite would allow me to go to the cafeteria and gorge on pancakes, cereal, sandwiches, and so on. Not necessarily the healthiest of options. Rock climbing was different. It was careful, intricate, detailed movements, slower, and more intentional. Something about it sparked a different way of eating. I started cooking more vegetables and whole grains. I still ate what I wanted. Sugar, dairy, gluten, etc. But I was eating more real food. It was around this time that I really understood moderation. And that is what I have been advocating for the past 6 years.
My goal as a health coach is to show people that there are so many different ways to eat. I have never been an extremist when it comes to food. I enjoy food, and it is important to me to help people understand the difference between soulfully indulging and emotionally eating. Even soulfully indulging can be healthy. It's taken a long time for me to realize that my body is a sacred vessel, and it's not to be damaged, and that fate is up to us. We decide what goes in. Food is a source of nourishment, our stomachs are not trash cans.
Back to my theories on moderation. The history of food has been very misleading. What is good for us, what is bad for us. And I have found a few nutrition experts that I really respect and will listen to. In this 6 billion dollar food and exercise industry, it's hard to know who to trust. The food industry is certainly not on our side, and our health is not their main concern. Marketing is their main concern. So how can we listen to our bodies and decide for ourselves what is good without being influenced by labels and packaging? We cook from home, we buy organic, natural, real food, and we avoid processed crap. The recipe is quite simple. All it takes is effort and passion for your body.
One of the reasons why I am not an extremist is because what I feel is good for my body and mind is always changing. There are so many people out their advocating for one way to do things, and that makes me really nervous. I appreciate the dedication and commitment, but what happens when that way stops working? Up until now I have been a fan of ancient grains, and unprocessed gluten in small amounts. Now I am asking more questions. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, spends an entire book proving that gluten is the main cause of brain dysfunction. That cutting out gluten AND grains can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's, dementia, autoimmune, and neurological disorders. It can be the cure to ADHD, Autism, and more. The science behind it is scary. So what about all these theories around moderation and eating clean? Does it matter? I'm not convinced of anything yet. But when I found out that Alzheimer's ran in my family, I stopped to consider my fate. I have always struggled with learning disabilities and ADHD, and spent 13 years on medication (Ritalin, Imiprimine, Adderall), so in all reality it's not the worst idea to take in what Perlmutter is suggesting to be true.
I haven't made any definite decisions around food yet, but I will continue to experiment, ask questions, and stay open to the science behind food theory. And why? To maintain optimal health. Brain, body, mind, spirit. There is a way in this life to eat well and eat clean but also enjoy the good stuff. If anything, it is time to squash any notions that healthy eating isn't fun and healthy eating is boring. Keep an open mind and always revisit what is working and not working for your health. A couple of books I recommend reading to continue asking the questions are the following:
Grain Brain, David Perlmutter
In Defense of Food, Michael Pollen
Cooked, Michael Pollen
The Blood Sugar Solution, Mark Hyman