When I was studying for my final today, I came across an interesting page in the food service domain (the material for my final exam helps me prepare for the national Registered Dietitian exam). The topic was on Additives and the functions associated with those additives.
As you know, I am a believer in wholesome and natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals. I don't believe that food is good or bad and certainly there are no off-limit foods. I can't stress this enough because I believe in forming a healthy relationship with food. If you think about it, our society is overwhelmed with food-related topics and food can be a very stressful, emotional and sensitive topic for many people. In the Sumbal household, food is a happy topic and a feel-good topic. As my sweet-tooth hubby would say "chocolate makes me feel good" :)
I don't think the words "never" or "can't" should be associated with food. Certainly, there is a time for everything and a little of everything is a lot better than a lot of one thing. I would never say that you "can never have an oreo or a doughnut" or that you should never have high fructose corn syrup or trans fat. As we all know, we eat for fuel and we eat for heart health. Triathlons, running, or your sport/exercise of choice is a lifestyle and not your life. You must learn to eat in an effort to perform and to gain fitness as well as learn how to maintain weight and reduce risk for disease.
I believe that due to the overwhelming amount of processed food, we (as a society) have forgotten what it feels like to eat and to feel satisfied. People no longer know how to listen to their body when it comes to eating a meal, snack or eating before and after a workout. I think many people have absolutely no idea why they eat, how much they should eat and what they are actually eating. With boxed, frozen and fast-food conveniently located at the end of every road (and in between stop lights) eating is no longer a controlled action. People eat sweets at 9am because there are sweets in the morning office meeting. People gravitate towards sugary snacks in the afternoon because the vending machine is close and healthy options are not available. People eat cereal or hummus and chips for lunch because they are in the pantry. People forget to eat throughout the day yet overeat in the evenings. Considering the number of processed options on the market, I think our society has forgotten how to listen to the body and plan out a daily diet. I guess the idea of planning for fresh foods throughout the day would be silly considering the number of fast, cheap and well-marketed foods, bars, drinks and snacks at a hands-reach.
Because the holidays are quickly approaching and body weight and diets are often popular topics with the media, I ask that you stop worrying about calories, carbs and sugars and to start focusing on the foods that you put in your body. When you build off a plant-based diet (ex. salad w/ chicken and avocado instead of a burger w/ a side salad or veggie stir fry with 1/2 wrap instead of a wrap w/ cheese, meat and a few veggies) you are going to eventually learn what it feels like to not have sweet, salty or fatty cravings. You are going to learn what it feels like to feel satisfied and to feel in control of what you put into your body. Nothing happens over night so my best suggestions is to replace don't eliminate. Try to keep the meals and snacks balanced with a variety of foods (from all or most food groups) so that you can focus on what your body needs and not what you think it needs.
My second suggestion to learning how to listen to your body and to find out what it needs, is to journal your foods w/ comments. Looking back at a food journal and when you feel hungry, moody, tired, stuffed, satisfied, etc. can be a powerful thing in making changes. Eating a 200 calorie breakfast with no snacks throughout the day and then feeling "bad" when you crave sweets in the evening is a perfect sample of a diet that can be changed. Certainly, having 100 calories of dark chocolate in in the evening is not a reason to feel like a failure and you don't need to rid yourself of this habit. However, if you feel extremely hungry by mid afternoon or at lunch time, my suggestion is to work on breakfast. If you find yourself ravenous after a morning workout, my suggestion is to focus on what you are consuming before, during or after the workout. Typically, what you eat immediately after a workout (rather than not eating because you "just burned calories") can set you up for a controlled day of eating with few to no cravings (not to mention a body that will quickly repair and get stronger after the workout). And lastly, always look forward to 1 thing if you are struggling with incorporating new foods into your diet. For example, if you don't like veggies, try topping your veggies with your favorite marinara sauce or salsa. If you don't like fruit, try having your favorite yogurt or cereal with the fruit. If you don't like certain whole grains pastas/rice (ex. quinoa, couscous, pasta, etc.), prepare your favorite protein and combine it with a serving of whole grains. If you love chips, make a hearty salad and top with a few crumbled chips or crackers. Eventually, you will find yourself looking forward to the plant-based part of the meal and slowing finding yourself breaking old habits or dietary choices.
So I leave you with another Scam article from Nutrition Action.....
Where's the Veggies
"Every 8 fl oz of Mott's Medleys has 2 total fruit and veggie servings, the powerful antioxidant Vitamins C and E and the bone mineral magnesium," says the bottle of Mott's Medleys Tropical Flavored fruit and carrot blend.
How does Mott's squeeze two servings of fruits and vegetables into one 8 oz cup? Simple. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid food guide says that a serving of juice is just half a cup. So an 8 oz. of any juice is 2 servings. Voila!
But Mott's manages to squeeze a serving of veggies in there, too, right? Not exactly. "Two total fruit and veggies servings" sounds like one fruit and one vegetables. But Mott's doesn't promise a full serving of veggies. And it doesn't deliver one, either.
Each glass has just 6% of a day's vitamin A. If the glass were half carrot juice, it would have 450 percent. So Mott's is selling mostly water plus nutrient-poor apple and grape juice fortified with vitamins C and E and magnesium.
"Tastes just like the fruit juice your family loves!" promised the label. That's because it is fruit juice.
Ocean Spray Fruit and Veggie 100% juice, with "2 servings of fruits and vegetables" combined, also has more grape and apple than carrot or other juices. Judging by its vitamin A content, an 8 oz. glass has at best, 1 oz (2 Tbs) of carrot juice.
Bottom line: You're better off eating fruits and vegetables than drinking them.