I have an interesting food dilemma and
decided to write on the issue- it may make me friends or maybe some opponents. I’m trying to answer: “Is________(food) bad for me? Or “which diet should I follow?” A lot of these food questions are based on common back and forth food rumors like- carrots have too much sugar, bread is fattening, dairy just cause every health issue, rice is bad, potatoes are bad and sugar is poison. What are we to choose? This isn’t a version of “Eat This, Not That”- I actually think that you do your best to make personal choices with the best information you have. Here’s what to consider when deciding to eat this or that:
The science is confusing and at times untrustworthy
In my epidemiology class in graduate school, my professor would always remind us that nutrition research can be flawed because humans don’t eat one food they have a diet and lifestyle habits that affect outcome. Because we never eat one food- conclusions are not so easy. This is why what was bad yesterday is the health food of the day (..um coconut oil & eggs).
Be aware that companies fund research to prove their point. Not all research is good research and government agencies are often late or hesitate in taking a strong stand again food industry giants. It takes many studies funded by various organizations to give evidence-based results. Harvard School of Public Health, and Tufts Nutrition Magazine will provide some consumer friendly reliable research.
Always trust your gut
Young children do this well. My daughter Nia taught me this in preschool. She would repeatedly tell her teachers that she was allergic to peanuts. She never had an allergic reaction to my knowledge so I would refute her allergy claim every time. But when she described her first time eating peanut butter I knew she was correct. Her early intolerance eventually emerged as a full blown peanut allergy. Connect with how certain foods make you feel. Definitely trust your gut! If you omit the food for 5-10 days and your symptoms subside, or reoccur when you eat it again then it’s not good for you. That simple test led me to avoid artificial sweeteners in the 1980’s- no one else’s opinion mattered!
Nothing wrong with moderation
This is a great time to bring up natural sweeteners- like honey, raw sugar, and agave. True we have gone overboard with sugar, high fructose and the likes. Sweeteners aren’t healthy, but in moderation we can still enjoy them. The American Heart Association recommend between 6- 9 teaspoons/day of all sweeteners. It’s more than I would aim for daily – but that’s what it is.
Genetics and diagnosis are game changers
If I have high blood pressure, then I should monitor my sodium. If you have celiac disease, then avoid gluten. That doesn’t mean gluten is bad for everyone. Ultimately we cannot change our genetics and/or maybe a disease so we need to eat like we are made. If you have kidney failure- bananas wont be a good choice.
Your moral compass is right
This is for the non-pork eaters, the vegetarians and vegans, Kosher eaters, genetically modified free foodies and the rest. If you connect with a moral or spiritual value to your food decisions, then honor it all the way and others should respect your belief but may not choose to follow.
Choose clean wholesome food and eat a variety
There’s no perfect food- but nature delivers close to perfect food with many health benefits that include vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and minerals. These are the foods that help us maintain our body and health. One food is never perfect enough to provide all we need so therefore it’s smart to vary our foods like the seasons. Each season deliver an abundance of food suited to what we need with its own nutrient package. This is also a good time to note that foods in season and grown locally are cleaner. If you are concerned about pesticides choose in season, local and/or organic especially for the dirtiest foods.
Food is always a hard one- we eat every day and have to decipher tricky confusing information. Don’t give up and if you are confused ask your doctor or dietitian for guidance. If you eliminate a whole food group such as dairy- be diligent and choose other foods rich in calcium and vitamin D or seek advice on supplementation to avoid another line of health issues.