Friday, May 25, 2012

Food For Thought Friday - "Convenience" foods

produce getting ready to be juiced
I've been feeling pretty good lately, been getting in my runs, starting to get in some strength training (thanks, Dana) and eating pretty well.

I have been obsessed lately with learning more and more about the food industry, going organic, maintaining health thru food, etc.

I swear. When you start delving into all this shit it really could make your head explode.

The food industry is nuts - it's almost not our fault that many of us walk around obese and sick. We are kind of set up for failure. Between franken-foods that are purposely processed to be non-satisfying and addicting, to marketing, to misinformation, to our own biology that still acts as if we could face a famine at any moment - we have a lot to fight and face.

We get swept up in hype. I was guilty too. I mean - I'm finally eating very clean for the most part and have lost 95% of the processed foods that were once in my life but I bought into all that marketing in a big, big, big way. A year ago, processed foods found their way into every meal. Easily. And I thought I was doing "good."

In the old days I would have a day like this and count it a HUGE healthy success.

Breakfast: a popular low fat breakfast cereal, skim milk,  fat free key lime pie yogurt, coffee with more skim milk and a packet of sweetener.

snack: a cereal bar / fruit

Lunch: Frozen low-fat entree, salad with some kind of fat free salad dressing

snack: microwave "light" butter pop-corn (94% fat free)

Dinner: small piece of chicken, instant mashed potatoes, some kind of veggie topped with spray fat-free "butter".

snack: Fat free ice cream, maybe some more fruit.

Now this would be considered a successful day for me and maybe it's still considered a successful day for some of you - I know my sister would think this was a good day… I would come in well with-in Weight Watcher points and it's the kind of day that supported weight loss even - I would have kept the calories and fat at a pretty good number.

BUT, knowing what I know now, I will never have a day like that again and consider it a "healthy day." All that processed food - has more unpronounceable words that I can count. Eating "food-like" products filled with chemicals is NOT healthy or good for us. They keep us hungry and hooked and some even say lead to disease.  Why would I give up cigarettes, lose weight, run for my health only to tempt fate with fake sweeteners and fat free frankenfoods?  I did it for YEARS.

I'm not judging if you like a little convenience food. I am no food angel - I am sure I will rely on some processed food or granola bar at some point in my life again. I just marvel at how healthy I thought it all was. I fell hook, line and sinker for all that marketing out there but when you flip that "healthy-looking" box to the back and read the ingredients - it's there in black and white - all those gross industrially-chemically sounding words just can't be good for us.

Ironically, I feel way more satisfied now. I am no longer fat-phobic. I eat avocado a few times a week, I drizzle healthy oils on my salads and use an organic coconut spread in my oatmeal. I snack on almonds, cashews and almonds, I'm enjoying healthy good foods that I had banned because I was so afraid of fat grams… I fill my plate with veggies and good grains like brown rice and quinoa. I top greek yogurt with fruit... I'm almost never hungry because I'm not trying to make some fake ice cream fill me up or satisfy me.

The weekends I will treat myself to one meal that could be questionable - like I might order a little chinese food or pick up some Greek food (but the greek food seems mostly OK tho high in fat.)

If I want a little ice-cream, I will have it. There's a homemade ice cream parlor up the street from me. So every so often we go and enjoy a little real ice cream.

I like to have a glass of red wine here and there or a dirty martini…

I'm not perfect. I don't want to preach.

Earlier I mentioned some of it is almost not our fault. I still agree with that to an extent but we need to take control over our food and choices by continually educating ourselves and arming ourselves with knowledge. We don't have to change everything all at once but we can take baby steps to better food and health.

I just would encourage you to reconsider some of the processed stuff and try to slowly replace what you can with more whole foods.

Thoughts? Do you ever feel like your head is going to explode as you learn more and more about this stuff?


Recommended viewing/reading:
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Michael Pollan
Food Inc.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Hungry For Change

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