If you think that the fat/carbohydrate/protein label on food is the determinant of health, consider buying real foods without a label.
Most people assume that it is the proportion of fat, carbs, and proteins that makes a food healthy rather than the actual ingredients. Michael Pollan dubbed this as the “Science of Nutritionism” in Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. The ingredients may be all chemicals, taste enhancers, artificial additives, or things known to contribute to inflammation. You can get a balanced meal based on government recommendations from your favorite fast food chain, but that doesn’t mean it is of good quality.
There are three major problems with the theory that health can be determined by the fat/carbohydrate/protein ratio:
- It does not take into account the quality or components of the food. It may be full of hydrolyzed proteins, trans fats, chemicals, preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors, and sweeteners. However, based on the fat, carbohydrate, or protein content, it may still be deemed healthy and labeled as an important part of a balanced diet.
- Researchers are still figuring out all the things that make whole foods (fruits and veggies) nutritionally beneficial. They know there are carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. But what about the antioxidants, flavonoids, phenols, and carotenoids? It is difficult to create foods in a lab that are as nutritious as foods nature grows when all of what makes it nutritious has not been identified.
- What is considered to be good for you often changes: currently protein are in and carbs and fat are out.
We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.
– Alfred E. Newman
Fresh Ideas to Extend Your Expiration Date
Change your mind-set about what a healthy food actually is by focusing on the ingredients versus the narrow view of the fat/carbohydrate/protein ratio. The real concern should be the ingredients that are making up the food.
- Eliminate ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Eliminate ingredients that you aren’t be able to purchase separately or have never heard of before.
- Eat whole foods that don’t have ingredient labels, such as apples, carrots, celery, and many more primarily located in the periphery of the grocery store or at your local farmer’s market. Real foods, such as fruits and vegetables, don’t need ingredient labels.
- Double check products you assume are healthy based on marketing or packaging. For example, look at the so-called healthy exercise bars and sports drinks loaded with chemicals, additives, and sugars. Even though they have a healthy fat/carbohydrate/protein ratio, they are full of other bad-for-you ingredients. Better yet, don’t buy them at all. Substitute a banana with almond butter for your after-workout snack, and skip the labels and the harmful ingredients all together.
As the old adage goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Note it does not say the apple-flavored Pop-tart or the apple-flavored cereal.
A blog with extensive recipes for families is located at 100daysofrealfood. com. It started as a project to eat whole foods on a budget with a family of four and has turned into a wildly popular blog on “real” food.
Download the Whole Foods app for your smart phone or tablet. It’s a magical app that is easy to use with a lot of great recipes using real food.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, is a simple, clear approach to food written by a journalist and is an excellent resource for making real food choices. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by the same author, is a small, easily readable book that makes food choices easy and entertaining.