What Does a Healthy Diet Look Like?
April 2, 2014
I get asked all the time about what my view is on healthy eating. Should I cut out all bread from my diet? Is it OK to eat meat? Does having a piece of cheese kill your diet? WHAT DO I EAT?? Have you asked that questions? Are you frustrated with trying to figure it all out – 3 times a day? I feel your pain. It can get downright overwhelming at times to have to plan meals and snacks. But why do we have so many questions regarding healthy eating and what our daily diet should consist of?
Because we’ve created confusion.
Confusion from Fad Diets
Part of the confusion lies in the 100s of 1000s of diet plans that line the book store shelves that are each filled with a different philosophy, method, or set of rules and restrictions. Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t all bad. Having a plan is great! Following a fad or believing something will cure all your problems in 7, 21, or 30 days is. It took us a lifetime to get where we are. It can’t all be undone (mentally or physically) in 7 days.
If you’re like me, you’ve tried one or two (or 10) of those plans over the years. We didn’t used to need them. Back when we were teens it seemed we could eat whatever we wanted and it didn’t affect us, or so we thought. But something happens as we get older, have a couple kids, and live real life – actually having to work to earn a living. Growing up has brought all sorts of responsibility into our lives, one of which is what we choose to eat from meal to meal.
This responsibility is no easy task in light of the plethora of diet advice we are bombarded with daily.
This task has become all the more real to me as my kids are getting older. I realize that as a parent it’s not just my job to feed them daily, but to empower them with the tools and wisdom to learn to make good choices daily. That’s a tough one! But I take that role seriously and want to equip my kids to grow up to be adults who can wade through the “noise” of diet plans, philosophies, and gimmicks to find the truth about their food.
This responsibility lead me to dive deep into the plans and programs and find out what I believe about food. What should we be eating on a daily basis? Is there truly a way to eat healthy food and not bust the bank to do so? Is there a way to be healthy and still have “fun” with my food (because no one likes feeling deprived)?
Maybe these are questions you’ve asked yourself too. I have come to some conclusions on these questions and am working through the kinks of how to do this daily in my own home, but I have discovered one thing:
Life becomes a lot more simple when you stop putting yourself under rules and restrictions and choose to live instead under a clear context.
Context brings meaning to the content. In other words, you and I are bombarded daily with food choices. If your context is restrictive in nature you will constantly crave what you can’t have and either starve yourself or go off the deep end and binge because you want it so badly. If you’re context is simply “health food” then you may spend a mortgage payment on your grocery bill each month trying to “keep up with the Jonses” at the health food store (and, by the way, everything that is in the health food section of the store isn’t necessarily “healthy.” Eating 10 healthy cookies is still, at the end of the day, not healthy).
When it comes to food, our family has created a clear context that helps guide our decisions. Our context is: ALIVE. We daily choose to eat more alive food than dead food and think more alive thoughts then dead thoughts (because your thoughts affect your health!) and in the end, we are more alive!
Confusion From Fake Foods
In addition to the the vast pool of diet information, that oftentimes feels like nothing more than a fad or bandwagon to hop on, part of our confusion could lie in the fact that what is termed food should not always be classified as such. One example is Velveeta cheese. Velveeta is clearly labeled “cheese product” and if you read the ingredients it will cause you to scratch your head and wonder if what you are holding is really food at all. We put these foods into their own category: Fake Foods or Frankenfoods.
My daughter recently took this context of ALIVE to heart and went on a mission to figure out what is food and what is not (even though we call it “food”). We have entered a new era of parenthood – Science Fair Projects. Some of you may be pros at this, but these type projects stress me out a bit. Knowing how much research, preparation, and time goes into creating one of these I get a bit apprehensive that my fifth grader will remember all the details and plan thoroughly enough to get it all done!
My daughter is incredibly creative and loves science. She love to discuss gross and weird things, typically around the dinner table, which leaves her siblings gagging every time. She also is into health (go figure). So we combined her love of the grotesque with her passion for healthy living and came up with a project she has titled: “Frankenfood”. Her Science Fair experiment is to test if the food we are eating is actually real at all and can produce any life in the human body.
I love that she is 11 and is concerned about what we are feeding our bodies, although, I’m not quite sure that was entirely her motivation for doing this project. I think she was just really excited to blend up a McDonald’s hamburger and see if anything would grow in it….but more on that later.
For her test, she decided to use hamburgers as her food. We went to McDonald’s and Burger King to purchase a few fast food cheeseburgers. Then we went to the health food store to buy some organic beef to make into a hamburger patty.
She came home and wrote out her hypothesis: I think that the organic burger is going to be the one that shows signs of life and will provide the most nutrients for the body.
She then devised two tests for her experimentation process which she called The Mold Test and The Plant Test. I don’t want to leave you hanging, but those tests are in progress right now, so you’ll have to stay tuned over the next week to see her final results and to see more about why she called her project “Frankenfood.”
I will however give you a sneak peak to The Mold Test.
Can you tell which 2 month old burger is ALIVE and which ones are fake?
Hopefully you weren’t heading to eat after seeing that picture of a moldy hamburger!
We are going to keep this ALIVE foods discussion going over the next few weeks. But I’d love to know from you, what are the areas in your diet that are the hardest to eat healthy in?
Is it a specific food that you know you don’t need but are having a hard time letting go of? Tell me about it!
Is it a specific time of day that you seem to have trouble on every day? Why do you feel like it’s a struggle?
What do you know, right now, that you are eating that is ALIVE? Tell me about it then celebrate it! Even if it’s just one or two things a day, that’s a great start in the right direction!