Monday, April 21, 2014

Nutritional Science is killing us!

Now I know what you are thinking - B.J. has gone off the rails and has eaten too much fruit!  But hang on and let me explain.  Today we live in a society of counting nutrients and calories.  We want to make sure we have this many vitamins, this many calories, this type of protein, this kind of fat, etc.  On the surface these seem reasonable, but here is where we lose sight.

Nutrients, by themselves, are almost meaningless.  If nutrients were the only thing that mattered, then we could take a few pills filled with nutrients and call it a day.  However, Mother Nature does not work that way.  Real, whole foods are complex - we are just beginning to understand how they work.  When we “fortify” food, or add in nutrients, we are losing the benefit of eating the food in its natural state.  We aren’t smart enough to trick Mother Nature.  We can’t strip a food down to its single nutrient and serve it up as meeting our daily recommendations.

What about all the nutrients we do not understand or know about yet?  How can we believe that taking a product like wheat, refining it, stripping it of all its nutrients and then trying to make it healthy again by adding in nutrients is a good thing?  The best example of this is children’s cereal.  At its core, cereal is made up of highly-processed flour and sugar, and is devoid of any nutrition.  It is a box of worthless flour and sugar, with chemicals added to make it bright and colorful.  Then “Big Food” adds in some “fake nutrients” and calls it healthy because it meets all the requirements for nutrition.

Really?  Do we truly believe that this stuff is healthy?  It does not end there. Most packaged foods are created the same way.  If you eat packaged foods from the pantry or freezer - then be aware that you are not giving your body the true nutrition it needs.  When this happens, your body will continue to crave more food until it finds what it needs.

The only way to give your body what it needs is to eat real, whole foods in as natural a state as possible.  The more it is cooked, processed, and altered - the less nutritious it is.

To make sure we are eating a well-balanced diet, we must eat a variety of foods, making sure there are plenty of colors – greens, yellows, reds, etc.  If you do this, then for the most part you will be eating a healthy diet.  You won’t have to worry about all the single nutrients that most people get caught worrying about.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When absolutes matter!

Well that is a great question for sure.  When it comes to diet, exercise, or daily routines, absolutes can be a challenge!  For me there are some absolutes and then there are guidelines.  I think too many people try to live by absolutes and get to caught up in minor details - losing sight of their overall goals.  If we focus so much of our energy around a specific food or food type, or specific guidelines, it can cause us to go a little overboard in our efforts.  However, on the other hand, there are some absolutes that I always follow no matter what.

Absolutes also take the daily decision-making out of choices. This can be a good thing because sometime we start down a slippery slope and go backwards in our progress because we had one cookie, one cheat meal, or one “whatever”.

Here is my suggestion: follow your own ideas, gather the data and make your own decisions.  Do not let one article, one reference, or one person dictate how you behave when it comes to your fitness journey. 

For example, someone can say “you should not eat carbs.”  Ok, so what does that mean?  Does it mean absolutely no carbs whatsoever?  Or could it really mean no processed foods that are carb-based?  I eat a ton of veggies and they are made up of a lot of carbs.  However, I do not eat pasta or bread.  So am I following this rule?  For me the answer is yes, because it is processed carbs that have a negative impact on my goals, and the same with sugar.  When someone says “no sugar” I would tend to agree because sugar and all its ugly friends create a trigger for me that can derail my efforts - even short term.  Now I do eat the occasional sweet, or 88% dark chocolate, but I have eliminated the day-to-day sweets that prevented me from reaching my own goals.

Meat is another absolute. I decided a few years ago that I did not want any meat in my diet, so it is an absolute and I do not even have to think about it.

I sometimes cringe when people say “I do not eat fruits and veggies because they are high sugar or high carb” - but these items are real foods!  They should not be considered the enemy.  The enemy is the processed and refined foods, and foods that are devoid of nutrition.

In the end, YOU must decide what is right for you.  Study the facts, understand what works and what doesn’t, and set your own guidelines and absolutes.  Know what you can and can’t do day-to-day.  Make your decisions easy and the goals will be easier to obtain.