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Simplify your food- Jasper

These days there seems to be as many types of food as there are theories about how to eat them.  Add to it the idea of nutrition for sport and optimum performance and it can really seem like a jumbled mess.    There are low carbohydrate, high carbohydrate, low fat, high fat, south beach, Atkins, fruit only, vegetarianism, veganism, carbohydrate loading, raw food and just about any diet you can think of.  So which one is the right one and how do you wade through all the garble?

It’s time to take a step back and simplify, simplify, simplify.  Here are seven simple rules that will help you make smart food choices.

1.    Eat food that has little or no processing:  For example, an apple, fresh off the tree is as good as it gets.  The integrity of the apple exists in it’s whole and all the positive nutritional qualities are in tact.  It’s only when we start processing the apple that we run into problems and loose nutritional value.  Applesauce with added sugar and pasteurizing for example is not as good for you as a whole real apple.
2.    Read Ingredients Lists:  Make a habit of reading what you are actually putting in your mouth.  A good rule of thumb is to eat foods that have ingredients you can understand.  In the food department, quality is more important than quantity.
3.    Shop around the outside of the grocery store:  The outside isles of most grocery stores are the only ones you really need to go to.  Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy and some bakery items such as sprouted grain breads are all you really need.  The middle isles are generally filled with, you guessed it, over-processed foods that contribute little if anything to your nutritional requirements.
4.    Avoid refined sugars:  Unfortunately, refined sugars are present in most packaged and processed foods.  We have become a nation that is addicted to refined sugars and it is slowly killing us.  Obesity rates are skyrocketing in North America and it is largely a result of the overconsumption of refined sugars.   Watch out for products that have sugar in the first few ingredients and avoid completely anything with high fructose corn syrup.
5.    Understand Fat:  Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are a critical component to a great diet.  Often people do not get enough EFA’s because most processed foods do not contain what we call “good fat”.  Instead they are laced with “bad fat” like hydrogenated oils and shortening.  Avoid anything with the words “shortening”, “hydrogenated”, and “partially hydrogenated”.
6.    Don’t overcook your veggies- Overcooking vegetables can kill the natural enzymes that are present in them.  Try steaming them lightly as opposed to boiling them until they are soggy and droopy.
7.    Choose a good supplement:  If you are an active person a comprehensive supplement is a good idea.   It’s difficult to attain all of your nutritional requirements through common foods due to the nature of how we prepare, package, process and preserve food.  If you are extremely good about eating whole, non processed foods all the time then you likely don’t need a supplement but my guess is that most people simply do not have the time in today’s hectic lifestyle to get everything they need.  Add a healthy dose of endurance exercise like triathlon or marathon running and you start demanding more from micronutrients.  Any over the counter supplement likely won’t do it either.  There are plenty of products that are cheap but extremely low quality.  The best course of action is something like 7SYSTEMS that targets active lifestyles specifically and is extremely high quality.

It’s time to get back to the way we thought about food 100 years ago.  Most people had their own vegetable garden in the back yard and foods were not packaged and over-processed.  The less we mess with food, the better it generally is for us.

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