Nutrition 101: The Basics
Now that’s delicious!
If you’ve been following nutrition for any amount of time, you’ve likely encountered a ton of conflicting advice. One day, eggs are good for you; the next, they’re bad, then they’re good again.
Fat? Eat less. Sorry, I meant eat more, but only “good” fats. More vegetable oils; less saturated fat! Wait no…it depends on who you ask.
Carbs? Good idea…no, bad…no, good, but only the right type of carbs. And that’s just touching the tip of the iceberg. How about alcohol? Coffee? Sugar? Artificial sweeteners?
All around us, everyone is yelling about eat this, don’t eat that, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be working. Well, I’m going to solve the whole issue for you today. In fact, with this one post, I’m going to help anyone that wants to change anything about their body. So listen up if you want to:
- Wear smaller jeans
- Lift bigger weights
- Get sick less often
- Or simply, stop eating boring food
If you want to solve all of your food dilemmas around what you should be eating, get ready…
Okay, seriously, enough build-up. It’s really as simple a guideline as there is and it’s what my entire site is built around.
Eat real food.
Yup, that’s it. That’s the entire bit of wisdom I have for you. If you’re looking complex diets that require you to stress about everything you put in your mouth, I appreciate you stopping by, but I can’t help you. Around here, it’s all about “Eating Real Food”.
Keep It Simple, Sexy!
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Albert Einstein
Unlike a lot of people you have read and likely will read, I’m here to simplify your life, not make it more complex. The nutritionists might not like me much for giving you such simple and effective advice that doesn’t keep you paying them, but oh well. Much like Jack LaLanne, I think that it really is that simple. As he said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”
Let’s take a quick look at the Food Pyramid, which was at least an attempt to get people eating right. Too many rules, too many gray areas. We can argue that the Food Pyramid is a convoluted mess of bad ideas, but the pertinent fact is that it’s too difficult to figure out, even if it was any good.
What exactly is a serving? And how do I decide if I need 6 or 11 servings of grains? Is that pork chop “lean”? And then there are all of the rules about saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, total fat, sodium, and sugar intake. How can you make heads or tails of anything this complex?
Some people want to argue about low carb, low fat, The Zone, Ornish, Atkins, and Weight Watchers. They’ll give you a million complex scientific reasons why their way is the one true way (sounds like a lot of religions). And maybe they’re right, but mostly they’re just confusing you. I’m not interested.
I know that civilizations have thrived on diets of varying proportions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates (macronutrients) throughout history. The Inuit ate a diet of almost no carbs and mostly fat with no ill effects. The Masai drink cow blood and milk and eat meat like it’s going out of style. As the nutritionists gasp, I’ll mention that the Masai achieve prime health too. The diet on the island of Okinawa is heavily weighted towards vegetables and rice with some fish and little meat, high in carbs, low in fat. Again, very good health; Okinawans have excellent health and longevity.
Stop The Insanity!
Dogbert: “Reality is always controlled by the people who are most insane.”
- Scott Adams, Dilbert
So it’s not so much about the macronutrients, as long as you’re getting enough protein and fat to allow the body to function properly. It’s about the types of food being consumed. Dr. Weston Price noted that traditional civilizations thrived until they were introduced to processed grains and sugars, at which point, health declined markedly.
Have you ever known someone that dutifully follows a low-fat diet or low-carb diet by eating every processed product in the store that excludes their chosen macronutrient (“Angel Food Cake is a fat-free food!”)? Do they make the progress they’d like to? Rarely. Why? Because before you can worry about macronutrients, you need to focus on food. You don’t eat nutrients. You eat food.
A few of the delicious morsels you could be eating
A Few Guidelines
Let’s keep it simple: Eat real foods, preferably in their natural state. I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what is “food” and what isn’t. A few things to remember:
- Real Food grows and dies. It isn’t created.
- Real Food rots, wilts, and becomes generally unappetizing, typically rather quickly.
- Real Food doesn’t need an ingredient label (and probably isn’t in a package either).
- Real Food doesn’t have celebrity endorsements.
- Real Food doesn’t make health claims.
Let’s give some foods this simple test and see if they pass:
- Broccoli – Most certainly a real food
- Steak – Deliciously real food, straight off the cow
- Oreo cookies – Hold while I read the ingredients. Are you serious?
- Eggs – Bingo
- Walnuts – Check
- Pop-Tarts – Just seeing if you’re paying attention
I’m sure you can figure most everything out from there.
Riding the waves of nutritionism
Forget The Latest Nutrition Fad And Just Eat Real Food
What you notice is that few of these foods, with the exception of cooking oils, come from a factory. They just exist. There’s no secret formula to create them. Even olive, coconut, and palm oils, while requiring extraction, require no special knowledge. Just press really hard and you get oil. Nobody has a patent on the flavor of an apple. The ingredients in beef can’t be tweaked to ride the current nutrition wave.
Eating real foods virtually eliminates one of the hardest parts of maintaining your weight: counting calories (or carbs or fat). Real foods have a built-in feedback mechanism to keep you from overeating. Protein and fat stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones. Fruits and vegetables tend to be bulky for their caloric content. Some may want to argue about Glycemic Indexes and other fun things, but no one gets fat by eating carrots. People get fat by eating fake foods. Just eat real ones and I guarantee that you’ll shed fat and feel better.
Your body, which is significantly smarter than your mind, knows what it needs and if you feed it real food and then pay attention, it will give you feedback.
What About Vitamins?
When you eat enough real foods, in enough variety…you should be all set. There were no Flinstone daily vitamins 100 years ago. Thinking your health down to a pill ignores the aspect of eating real foods for nutritional needs, as well as how our body really is supposed to use vitamins and minerals together.
“People ask me what vitamins they should take,” said Dr. Jacobs. “I say ‘Don’t take any. Just make sure you have a nutrient-rich diet.’”
from the The Case for Real Food, NY Times
But That’s So Boooooring?
If you think that real food is boring, you’re just not thinking it through. There’s absolutely nothing boring about real food. There’s far more variety in the produce aisle than in every other aisle of the store. If you really think about it, the middle aisles are really just different combinations of corn, wheat, soy, and sugar.
On the other hand, just off the top of my head, the real food aisles have:
Apples, Brussels sprouts, cherries, duck, eggs, frisee, ginger, horseradish, iced coffee (I couldn’t come up with anything for “i” so why not?), jalapenos, kale, lamb, melons, nettles, onions, pork, quail, rosemary, spinach, turnips, ugli fruit, venison, watermelon, xia (shrimp in Chinese…yeah, I cheated), yuca, and zucchini.
If you’re still bored, you probably just don’t know how to cook the righteous foods that come without a package.
Learn To Cook Real Food
Now maybe you’ve been living the convenience food lifestyle for awhile and don’t quite know where to start with real food. That’s what I’m here for. I built this site to help you learn to cook and eat real food without being bored by your meals.