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What In The World Am I Supposed To Eat?

April 5, 2012 0 Comments

Agitated young woman looking up in frustrationI apologize as it’s been a little while since I posted something.  The winter (or lack there of) months were very busy (a good thing) and I took some time for a little vacation with the family (a very good thing). But my mind never stops working and keeping everyone’s best interest regarding their health and fitness is always on my thoughts.  That being said, the subject of nutrition continues to get convoluted with each passing day and leaves most scratching their heads about what exactly they are supposed to be eating. And in the past few weeks, I was reminded of that in everything from what I see and hear to what is reported in the news. Might not want to be snacking right now.

Pink Slime and Dirty Chickens

You’d have had to have been living under a rock (although the nourishment under a rock is probably better for you) to have not heard about the pink slime that is not only added as filler to ground meat sold in most commercial grocery stores, but is “cleaned” with ammonia among other noxious chemicals. Oh and by the way, it is an USDA approved procedure to sell ground beef that is safe to consume by the population.  The slime is basically a concoction of miscellaneous unused parts of cattle to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Chicken, often praised as a lean, quality protein is not all it’s “clucked up” to be.  An article in the New York Times last month talked about the harsh conditions and methods that chickens are raised in and sold deemed healthy for consumption. Oh and 80% of the FDA approved antibiotics sold in this country are given to animals.  Why? Because of not only the conditions they’re raised in (greater chances of infections and diseases) but because they’re moved along the maturation chain so fast that they could hardly be considered a “meat” based on the way nature intended it.  The premise of the article was actually talking about the need for development of nonmeat meat. What? Are we just chewing our way to a time bomb or are we headed to a more Jetson-like cuisine?

Do You Want Fries With That?

Along with my self imposed push-up and running challenges this year, I vowed to not eat any French fries all year.  Mind you, I have may be one or two meals a month with French fries, but they are one of the worst foods you can possibly eat so I don’t consider myself missing out on anything.  But they are everywhere! On vacation while trying to order a lunch or dinner, more than 50% of the options included French fries.  For my son, almost every child’s meal included French fries. It’s not difficult to ask for a substitute though, despite the look you sometimes get. I think I could write a book called the Anti-French Fry Diet and hundreds of thousands would lose weight.  But may be you don’t eat French fries and can’t understand why you’re not losing weight? Well, it’s always the not so obvious and your own personal denial that usually are to blame.  But where does it all end?

Eat Everything and Eat Nothing

That will be the title for the next book, outlining everything we were ever told to eat because it’s healthy and then everything we were told not to eat because it’s no longer healthy or good for us.  You know what we would be left with? Nothing! That includes water. Yet if you were to examine cultures all around the world you would see a lot of the opposite of what we are told is a healthy diet. They have no major health issues; obesity is not common; and they live just as long or longer.  That is, until they have adopted the Western hemisphere’s (ours) method of eating. What exactly is that? Highly processed packaged foods; high calorie, low nutrition meals/snacks; extraordinary portion sizes; tons of sugar in all things not even considered treats; artificially chemically enhanced foods and flavors – the list goes on and on.

So What Am I Supposed To Eat?

Basically, just the opposite of a Western Hemisphere diet just previously mentioned.  But more specifically, here are a few good guidelines:

  1. If it comes in box, really examine the necessity of its consumption.  When in doubt, consult the label and if there are more than 5 ingredients, it warrants a further examination as to its need vs. want.
  2. If you eat meat, organic (more specifically, grass fed beef, free range chicken, etc) is a really good way to go. Think it costs too much? I’ve got news for you.  We eat too much. Four to six ounces (recommended serving size) of meat is plenty. Our portion distortion with meat is the greatest of all the foods we consume.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables – period. Organic or not, more fruit and vegetables is the way to go.
  4. Don’t get all wound up in the carb thing.  We need carbs, but like everything else, we don’t need tons of it. Believe me, the Chinese eat plenty of white rice and they would hardly be considered obese.
  5. Our bodies are all unique and how they handle food varies from person to person.  But before you fall back into your state of denial, be brutally honest with yourself about your lack of consistency with good, quality nutrition before the blame gets passed on to something else.  In the end, the only thing that matters is what you do with the information that is presented to you.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 9,500 push ups done as of publishing time.


About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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