What Is Healthy Food?
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from clients and friends, “I was so bad yesterday…I ate french fries with the kids” or “I totally cheated and had a piece of birthday cake.” We’ve all heard it, right? And actually, we have probably all said it. But, there is a fundamental problem with this line of thinking that works against each and every one of us.
Food and eating are not ethical issues! You are not good or evil because of what you eat. If you allow yourself to attach such negative values to certain foods and to yourself for eating them (i.e., I’m a cheater, I failed, I can never have another brownie), you are setting yourself up for failure. And when we think we have failed, we feel guilty and tend to give up.
Remember, a healthy lifestyle is about balance, calculated choices and motivation. It is a way of living not a “quick fix.” If you want to transform your eating habits, you need to start “eating to live” not “living to eat.”
Women especially seem to have this innate tendency to beat themselves up when it comes to eating. And it’s no wonder. Look at our society—it’s filled with mixed-up eating images. From the time we are small children we are inundated with unhealthy messages about food. Parents start urging their children to clean their plates at an early age, our celebrity-crazed culture places pressure on young adults to severely restrict their food to look a certain way, yet our restaurants serve portions fit for an army. It is easy to see why a lot of us grow up to be adults with a lot of guilt, shame and confusion about our eating habits.
So let’s change our thinking!
While I am a Dietitian/Nutritionist & Personal Trainer and am in the business of creating specific and scientific meal plans, I mainly advocate a philosophy that I call “Mindful Clean Eating”. It is actually quite simple. It means you focus on eating things that come from plants, animals or trees rather than from boxes, bags, and take-out containers. Look down at your plate…is most of your food alive or dead? Is it nutrient dense or void of nutrients? This translates to getting a majority of your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds and lean meats and fish. Clean eating minimizes the presence of preservatives, chemically altered fats, extra sodium and artificial ingredients. In addition to this, pay careful attention to portions, and eating while you eat (mindful). It is often not what you are eating, it’s how much and not paying much attention to the act of eating. We have adapted the bigger is better attitude and much to our dismay many prepackaged snack foods can actually stimulate your appetite. So go for moderation – do a reality check and give yourself one serving not three. This takes education, discipline and practice (my expertise.)
Clean eating, however, doesn’t mean “perfect” eating. It doesn’t mean that you will never consume another bag of chips or another brownie. What it means is that you are aware that some food choices are more ideal than others when it comes to fueling your body and you are able to adjust your habits accordingly. Don’t attach guilt to your choices, accept them! Better yet, plan for them. I advocate a scheduled "cheat meal" each week. Enjoy that brownie while you are eating it and learn to have confidence that you will return to your healthy eating habits at the very next meal.
We all know life is full of distractions, changes and temptations. Being realistic and being prepared for them with a general attitude of clean eating is much more realistic than participating in the “good vs evil” food war. When you look at your eating plan this way, there is no such thing as cheating!
If you are in need of accountability and guidance with any fitness and/or nutrition plan, I was born to help! -Danielle Fryer, RD
A Calorie for a Calorie?
As a practicing Registered Dietitian and Personal Fitness Trainer, I often am asked the question, “Does the caloric quality of my food choices or the caloric quantity of my food choices matter more?” This question is asked often due to the overall abundance of ideas, theories, perceptions, media response, and opinions of the general “nutrition aware” population. Allow me to break down the facts, in layman’s terms, and point you to a TRUTH that holds the foundation of the human body’s intelligent metabolism.
The metabolism of the human body consists of many vast functions. I will point to Carbohydrate (glucose) digestion, (Glycogenolysis) Protein digestion, (Amino Acid Catabolism), and Fat digestion, (Lipolysis) and their contribution to breaking down energy (calories). These three digestive pathways are the body’s involvement to nourish your life form, your body. They all contribute in varying amounts to the total energy pool of the intelligent watery arena of metabolism. The forms that the energy yields are all in the same; however, utilization and conservation of this energy requires involvement of vitamins and minerals, generally found, in their purest state, only in whole foods.
When you are born, your new body only tolerated breast milk or formula’s that mock a female’s breast milk. After the first 6 months to 1 year, the body’s three pathways of digestion completely developed and became able to digest whole foods. The intelligence of the Human Body is ONE with the totality of the Earth bound foods Mother Nature provides. Eating foods from the Earth contain no additives and preservatives. Naturally occurring foods like, Fruit, Vegetables, Dairy, Fats, Whole Grains, and Protein. When we ingest additives and preservatives into our normal, beautiful, perfect pathways of metabolism, we inhibit the natural flow of digestion. Consider a newborns dirty diaper. Then, consider a child’s diaper after he or she has begun consuming processed foods. Consider the inhibited digestive process (eating processed foods) as the throwing of a monkey wrench into a stable, clean, and properly functioning piece of machinery. Would you put Kerosene in your Gasoline required vehicle? Consider the intelligence of the Body screaming, “What the heck, what do I do with this ingredient?” The Body will digest it, eventually, with much pain and suffering, slowing of the metabolism, uptake of more water, and possible bloating, gas, and other numerous dysfunctions of the collective torture we place on our cells. This occurs from additives even if you do not “feel” it. However, if you are aware of your inner body, you will become more mindful of the rejection of these chemical compounds in your body. So, to answer the question, is a calorie a calorie? No. The body desires clean and whole foods. It is your choice to pollute the body’s natural flow of digestion. It is your mind that decides to choose this for your body, not your body. If you do occasionally eat processed ingredients, don’t make it into an issue of guilt, blame, or resentment, but accept the fact that your body does not desire these types of foods. Your mind does. Thus, this brings in your consciousness toward your overall behavior; therefore, you become transformed just by recognition of your behavior. Consider eating “processed foods” 10% of the time, and eating clean whole foods 90% of the time. Become nutrition aware. Be the watcher of your behavior and relationship to food. In regards to caloric quality or caloric quantity mattering more…It is a fact that both equally are significant in the entire factual realm of the Human metabolism...Bottom line, eat mindfully, choose clean and whole foods most of the time, this will enable your powerful body to run its natural flow of homeostasis, therefore allowing pure health to evolve.
April 2007 Editorial for The Greenwich Gazette by Danielle Fryer, RD
Metamorphosis Fitness and Nutrition Studio™ was developed to promote health through proper exercise and nutrition. Since fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand so our staff consists of both certified fitness trainers and a Registered Dietitian to achieve desired goals in both areas.