Have you ever thought about what is in your food? You’ve most likely seen a documentary, commercial, or Facebook post that has put that question into your mind. Most are quick to dismiss this thought because quite frankly its a very loaded topic. How far down that rabbit hole goes can be daunting for some so it is common for people to push the topic to the sidelines. Now there are many topics within the “what is in your food” question but this one is in regards to the nutrients in your food…the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, amino acids, etc.). So the challenge for everyone moving forward is to justify the food you eat not by price, calories, fat content, cravings, etc. but by the nutrients in the food which will nourish your body.
Let’s take Oreo cookies for example. What’s in a Oreo? The shortest example is sugar, cocoa, and fat. That’s about it. Maybe a small amount of calcium and a few amino acids but you’d be hard pressed to justify Oreos as a food that would contribute to your health. You could eat an Oreo post workout to cause an insulin spike to help protein get into your muscles but there are plenty of other options such as raw honey which comes with over 20 vitamins and minerals, has 18 of the 24 amino acids (it has the 8 essential for life making it a complete protein), and is a prebiotic (it helps aid the good probiotics in your body).
Of course Oreos taste good but that is your brains craving for sugar which is very hard to find in nature. The body craves sweet, salt, and fat which served humans well when we were hunter gatherers because it would guide us to find certain foods. The signal is the same which tells our body to eat more and more when it gets anything sweet, salty, or fat but humans don’t face periods of famine as they used to. Most people know that Oreos are not the food they should be eating on some level but it’s hard to resist when food companies are engineering food to appeal to your senses.
A vast majority of people are not aware that food scientists actually exist. Their job is to make the food you eat appeal to your senses via chemical compounds that can be organic in nature and simply extracted in high quantities, think high fructose corn syrup, and put back into your food or they are synthetic. These synthetic compounds can be made to duplicate a structure found in a plant or made up. This has its pros and cons but when we are engineering food like candy to taste better it can diminish our taste for good food, all of a sudden a salad or an apple tastes bland in comparison to a processed pizza or donuts. When you start engineering food though there seems to be a disconnect there.
Moving forward look at your food in a different light and start to consider what is actually in it. Dark green leafy vegetables are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, etc. and contribute to your health but even though people know this they dismiss the food because it doesn’t taste as good as junk food.
Your taste buds have been hijacked. Processed foods are loaded with bad fats, high amounts of sugar, and synthetic chemicals that trick your brain into craving more. Substituting healthy natural foods will help change your palate. After 21 days of eating healthy foods your taste buds will begin to will shift away from craving synthetic chemical flavors. You will begin to recognize the natural flavors in food which can seem bland initially when compared to the so called “natural flavors” found in most processed foods.
People know what they should eat; it’s an instinct. If you try to fill up on empty calories or synthetic sugars, your body will continue to be hungry in an attempt to get the actual nutrients it needs to perform the million of chemical reactions that occur every day.
Ever notice when you eat a bunch of junk food you continue to be hungry throughout the day? That is because your body is craving nutrients not calories. Some people complain of being hungry all the time when they switch to eating nutrient dense foods and end up going back to junk food because they can’t handle being hungry. Your body is freaking out because you went from 4-5 thousand empty calories a day to 1600 so it thinks it is now in a famine. The good news is it’s okay to be hungry you’re not going to starve and that feeling will pass in time. If you give your body all of the nutrients you need with a well balanced palette of food (eat the rainbow every day i.e. different colored foods) your body will adjust and that sugar crash/famine feeling will stop happening.
Give yourself 21 days to move away from food appealing only to your senses and focus in on nutrient dense foods you can justify to yourself. We all know the basics these foods its just a matter of acknowledging it. Eat lots of vegetables minus starchy potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine), eat mostly berries for fruit and limit fruit consumption so you don’t overdo it on the natural sugar (fructose) in fruit, consume grassfed lean meats, eat some good fish (no bottom feeders like tilapia), stay away from lots of grains, and eat good fats (avocados, nuts, fish, chia and flax seeds).
As mentioned earlier a good rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow everyday (not starbursts!). This applies to the vegetables and small amount of fruit you should be eating which come in a vast array of colors as depicted in the picture at the bottom of this blog. If you can do this for 21 days you can free yourself of the not only cravings for unhealthy processed foods but you can loose body fat which is not only stored energy but a defense mechanism for storing away the bad chemicals you’ve been eating so they don’t harm your body. But that’s a subject for another blog so keep an eye out for a breakdown of how and why your body stores fat in the coming weeks!
Good luck with this endeavor and remember “Practice doesn’t make perfect practice makes permanent!”
Taste the Rainbow!!!