The USDA Plate vs. the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate.
Chocolate milk as an after-workout recovery drink.
Sugar is sugar: high fructose corn syrup is perfectly fine to eat!
And today's message: how sugar is more additive than cocaine.
These messages and more clog the airways every week with some new breaking news about what we should really be eating. For real this time. No, seriously, this is the real truth. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
They all have an element of truth, and we all believe at least a little bit of them. Navigating food has become a high-contact sport and relying on "research" to justify our nutrition choices makes it easier to decide which fork in the road to take: is dairy really bad? Is natural organic sugar really better? I don't know, I just want a sandwich! Is that okay anymore?
Honestly, I'm not a scientist or a nutritionist so I can't tell you anything more than my opinion based on my experience, which is this:
1. I used to get caught in the web of confusing food rules (and sometimes still do) and it all got a lot easier for me when I tuned it out and started eating primarily fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains in moderation. I was happier, healthier, wealthier, and much less stressed out.
2. When I ate 99.999% "perfect" and did two hours of insane workouts every day I had a kick-ass body and was in excellent, excellent shape. It was awesome. When I started eating dessert once in a while and drinking a glass or two of wine on the weekends, I gained a little back but was nicer to the people around me. That was awesome too. You just have to choose the kind of awesome that is right for you.
3. Food is a business, and most people's minds are for sale. When I dig around behind the scenes of articles like the ones above, I usually find the motive - a food lobbying group that funds research to prop up whatever idea they want to convince us of. That's not to say the research is faulty or that every funding group is up to no good. It's just a reminder that it's there. Most research has a motive, and it is not always in your best interest.
If you're lost in the web today, there are some quick ways to get out. First, ask yourself whether you are eating in a way that is sustainable for the long haul. Can you live without an entire food group for your entire life? Can you eat in restaurants with your friends on occassion without feeling like you need to "splurge"? If those answers are "no," then you are not sustainable. Second, assess whether you are being true to yourself. Are you walking one way and talking another? If you're eating one way in public and another way at home, check yourself before you wreck yourself. And third, are you happy with how you feel? You're the only one who lives in your body 24/7, so be honest: does the food you put into that machine make you run like a race car or a clunker? How does that feel at the end of the day?
Research, marketing, fad diets, and promises made on late-night television cannot erase how you feel when you eat. Dump the hype and do what you know is truly, really, honestly healthy: eating clean, from the earth, healthy food that doesn't necessarily come with a marketing budget.
Get out there and get healthy!