So many different diets exist that it can be easy to get lost when trying to figure out what kind of eating style is right for you. How do you choose between Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, gaps, or any of the other diets out there?
Whenever I am having a discussion with someone about starting a new diet I always like to go all the way back to the basics.
Why do we eat food?
Is it just to stop feeling hungry?
Why do we feel hungry?
What is the purpose of putting food in our bodies?
When we eat, it isn't just to make the feeling of hunger go away. Food is what provides the fuel and building blocks for our bodies. Our bodies use the food we eat as materials to repair and rebuild tissues, as weapons to fight off disease, and as energy to fuel our day. So when we think about what kind of food we want to eat, we have to think about what kind of materials we want to give our bodies.
The simplest way to start transforming how you approach eating is to focus on eating "real food." Real food is defined as food that is still as close to its natural state as possible. It hasn't been changed and altered, and put through a dozen processes before reaching your table. This is important because the more processing your food goes through, the fewer nutrients it has, which decreases the benefit that it has on your body.
The effects of adding more real food to your diet, and starting to cut the junk food can be seen in as little as a few days to a week. The first two things you will notice are changes in your energy, and in your skin.
Your body will not have to work as hard to filter out all of the unusable junk from processed foods, and it will have a lot more tools to work with, so you will start to notice better energy.
Your skin acts as an indicator signal for what is going on inside your body, and as your internal health improves so will your skin. You will notice a brighter complexion, and stronger more resilient skin. Your skin my start to be supple where it used to be thin and fragile. This is all because your body is finally being given the tools it needs to heal and restore itself.
I like the real food approach because it cuts out a lot of the guess work involved in some of the more complicated diets. You only have to distinguish between real food and processed food.
I want you to have some good resources to start your journey into better eating habits and better health, so here is a list of books and websites with some great practical information on how to get started. I highly recommend spending some time at the "100 Days of Real Food" site. Lisa Leake has done a great job of defining real food, and helping you get started on that path.
"Eat to Live" a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
"In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan
"French Kids Eat Everything" by Karen le Billion (if you have picky kids this one is really great)
I would love to hear more about your experience with how food has affected your health and your family's health. Share your story with us in the comments below.