What is eating healthy? I think that is one big crazy question these days and no one really has a great answer. I can say that NOT eating healthy usually involves a lot of fast food, eating out a lot and packaged food…but in today’s confusion of vegan, paleo, primal, gluten free, low fat, high fat, Atkins, etc…it is hard to know what is healthy and what is not. Some fruit and lots of veggies are pretty well agreed upon as far as those are good things to eat. How little or much of the rest of the food groups: dairy, meat, legumes, grains…it becomes up for debate.
I think this is actually quite individual provided that the processed foods are very, very minimal. If you subtract out any food that has a food label with more than 2-3 ingredients, eat 2-3 servings of fruit and 5-10 servings of veggies at a minimum…and then layer on top what works for that person, I think a lot of this food dogma would be wiped away.
But full disclosure…I follow a mostly paleo type of food space…why? Because it works for me.
How did I figure this out? I experimented. I did the Whole30 approach a year+ ago and discovered the following things when I re-introduced different foods:
- Alcohol makes me really tired the next day, even after 1/2 a glass
- Sugar makes me cranky and tired
- Gluten makes me feel awful
- Dairy makes my skin look bad
- Legumes don’t agree with me
- Soy…never felt compelled to re-introduce it, but I don’t advocate soy unless it is for woman going through menopause.
So…for ME…it is better to follow a Paleo style type of eating. But I’m not a zealot about it with other people, nor myself. Except for gluten, the rest of the things float in and out of my diet in small quantities fully knowing that I won’t feel as great as I could if I were to be really, REALLY strict with my paleo…but I enjoy those things and it is way too hard to try to eat that way outside of the house.
But here is the one thing that does trip me up…peanut butter. Peanuts are a legume. They don’t upset my stomach like other legumes do…but they aren’t perfect. For awhile I tried to only eat almond butter, but really…it’s just not even remotely the same! I just bought a container of peanut butter…oh the beauty of it. YUM! I may have to stop buying it more because I eat too much of it rather than it being not ideal for me…lol
I just got back from 1.5 weeks in Greece and ate more dairy in a week than I have in over a year. I didn’t feel fantastic, but weirdly my skin didn’t break out and no other adverse effects. Makes you wonder what the differences are between North American dairy and European. I didn’t eat much to begin with…but I definitely enjoyed it when I was in greece!!
The past few months I’ve been on a weightloss path due to my competition and the fact that the stress from the move caused a lot of stress eating and I gained 10lbs after the move. So alcohol and sweets were totally out of the equation. But having a glass now here or there or a treat are beautiful things to enjoy!
So my point is more that sometimes there are certain things that really, really don’t work for YOU. And that means you should avoid it. For me that is gluten. In my case I don’t avoid it because it is trendy. I avoid it because the ramifications on my life are so negative eating it wrecks my system. For people who are not gluten intolerant…by ALL means eat those whole grains. BUT if you have never taken it out for a month (and REALLY taken it out…all labels read) and then done a challenge with it, don’t assume that you are gluten tolerant. The side effects of gluten intolerance are a bit far reaching beyond GI issues and can be surprising if you are not aware of them.
But life is too short to be overly restrictive with all foods. Eat lots of veggies, some fruit, get enough protein in some form and then with some of those ‘questionable’ food choices…In my opinion…moderation is the key unless you have an intolerance to something.