“What food is healthy?” This is a question we are asked quite frequently, mostly by our university students, but also by our 60- and 70-year-old students.
The answer is quite simple at first glance, yet in practice deceptively difficult. For years I’ve told my students “the closer to the ground the better,” yet many of them found this answer confusing, and over the years it’s required more explanation (yes, kind of sad).
First off, I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian (although I can spell “dietitian” without looking it up). What I am is a good researcher and writer, including this list of articles about food and health that I’ve written. I’m also a good eater and all-around healthy person.
I’m tempted to say that the answer to the healthy food question is, “It depends,” but that’s probably due to my counseling studies, when I learned that it’s the answer to most questions! My new response is to answer with my own question: “Does it (the food) help or harm your body?” For example, I have a friend right now who’s pregnant and dealing with gastroparesis. She cannot eat veggies without getting quite ill. She can, however, keep down sno-cones and pierogies. For her, leafy veggies are unhealthy.
For my sister, it’s possible that she is now allergic to some foods that were perfectly fine for her for decades. As identical twins, we are usually quite similar in our medical issues, so I’m curious to see what she discovers as she eliminates, then reintroduces, certain foods. Kind of a canary in the coal mine thing. She is the canary in this scenario. At present, she is testing out a wheat-free diet. We wrote about some of the research for and against in our post “Is Wheat-Free Better for You.” Bottom line: Eat whole grains. Stay away from genetically modified organisms.
For many of my women friends, a glass of red wine in the evening is possibly a heart-healthy dose of resveratrol. But for me, it’s just a drink that makes me turn red and get a headache. Other friends need to live by a gluten-free diet, while some thrive on organic whole grains.
Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, GF, clean eating, pescatarian, omnivore, high-carb, low-carb, restricted-calorie, intuitive, timed – the list of eating categories goes on and on. And every single one of these eating styles is healthy – for someone.
So I think my new answer is a good one. If it helps your body (chemical cravings for Ben & Jerry’s “Americone Dream” don’t count), then it’s probably healthy for you. If it harms, then why would you eat it? Rather than give advice, I’ll share what works for me.
* Whole grains
* Organic or at least pesticide-free
* Cooking & baking from scratch
* Few processed, packaged foods
* No soda, energy drinks, or high-sugar drinks
* No meat
* All ingredients are recognizable and pronounceable
* If it shouldn’t go in my (or my kids’) mouth, it doesn’t come into the house
* Reading research and books. At present I am reading “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and I love anything by Michael Pollan (did you know he’s Michael J. Fox’s bro-in-law?)
In a further spirit of sharing, I’m also going to give away a $100 gift card from Bob’s Red Mill. I wholeheartedly endorse their tagline “Whole Grain Foods for Every Meal of the Day.”
Reasons you should love this company:
* Their mission is to bring good, healthy foods to as many people as possible
* They have given millions of dollars to support healthy nutrition and wellness, and address the issue of pediatric obesity
* Owners Bob and Charlee Moore gave the company to the employees in 2010
* They sell a complete range of whole-grain food products (not foodlike substances), including organic, gluten free, non-GMO, and kosher
* Their prices are extremely fair (example: $5.79 for 5 pounds of organic white whole wheat flour, compared to $8.95 from their closest competitor)
* The food is delicious
So what will you choose if you win the $100 gift card?
* Flours & Meals
* Grains, Beans & Seeds
* Gluten Free
* Baking Aids
The SuperFine print: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Yes, my Canadian friends, you are included!!!! That is just how generous Bob’s Red Mill is. The winner will be chosen on Monday, August 5th at midnight PST. We will notify the winner via email and other social media forums. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, we will choose another winner.
This is a truly amazing gift, so you will want to do all the amazing entry options.
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