…she says as she eats a Nutella butter bar.
Let me be honest with you: I am not perfect in the area of nutrition. I like ice cream and pizza. I eat chocolate chips for a “snack” sometimes. I drink copious amounts of (not black) coffee.
However, food is something I’m trying to simplify. Hans and I are tossing around the idea of experimenting with veganism for a month or two (keep reading…I promise I won’t start berating you for liking cheeseburgers), we drink water like it’s going out of style, and I’ve started making green smoothies for breakfast and steaming veggies for dinner. We keep our fruit bowl full and I bake tons of these muffins.
Michael Pollan, a journalism professor at Berkeley and contributor to the New York Times Magazine, wrote a book called In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. The book explores why most Americans are unhealthy, even though we’re constantly concerned about nutrition. He wants to educate Americans about the food we put into our bodies, and the consequences it can have. His whole premise is to eat “real food” instead of processed food-like products.
Pollan defines “real food” as things your great-grandmother or Neolithic ancestors would have recognized as food. His believes that our bodies do not naturally know how to deal with foods that are overly processed and/or full of artificial ingredients, and foods that our ancestors would have recognized are more wholesome and easier for our bodies to deal with.
Pollan also advises to read labels and avoid foods that have more than five and/or unpronounceable ingredients. Those two criteria are a good indication that something has been transformed into a food-like substance. You know what I’m talking about: packaged snacks, microwave dinners, Wonder bread and “foods” that have expiration dates longer than a few weeks.
Why am I telling you this?
Because, even though I like my Nutella butter bars as much as the next girl, (I'd link to the recipe if it didn’t undermine this whole post) I know that God made my body to run on better things. We need food to live and to do the things He has called us to do, and we should be filling up with essential, wholesome, and simple calories instead of excessive and empty (but oh-so-delicious) ones.
So, how do you begin simplifying your food?
1. Drink more water.
Because there is nothing – and I mean NOTHING – nutritionally redemptive about soda.
2. Eat more plants.
They are simple for your body to process, packed with vitamins and nutrients, and fill you up with nourishing calories.
3. Eat less animal products.
Because cholesterol and bad fats.
4. Eat less processed foods.
The “further from the vine” a food or ingredient is, the less likely it’s going to be beneficial to your body.
5. Don’t get legalistic.
I cannot imagine swearing off chocolate for the rest of my life in the name of health. Let’s get real…sometimes you need chocolate for your emotional health. As a general rule, eat simple and unprocessed foods. But don’t let it stop you from enjoying dinners with your in-laws and the occasional cookie. It will keep you sane.
Other posts in the Simplified Series...
Your Simplified Challenge: the next time you go to the grocery store, try making half of your purchases from the produce section. I dare you!
What are YOUR thoughts about simplifying your eating habits?
PS - if you want to rock your world, watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives”. It’s on Netflix.
PPS - Want some super simple recipes? Check out my friend Dana over at Minimalist Baker. The peppermint black bean brownies = #sublime.
PPPS - my mom is a registered dietician, and she’s the one who made the aforementioned Nutella butter bars. I blame her for my conflicted feelings about food.