Chinara Tate: What to eat. Why. Where to buy it.: Nutritional Justice (Part. 3)
The "obesity epidemic" as it is currently framed is a farce. HOWEVER, those who champion a full out declaration of war against it do have at least one thing right. It is not natural to gain weight at the exponential rate many people within our society are (exponential meaning gaining 35 pounds of fat over the course of 2 1/2 years - precisely what happened to me my last few years of college). Everyone has a natural set-point weight determined by genetics and it may, in fact, be higher than "normal BMI" - but it should not fluctuate as drastically as many people are experiencing. If you have experienced rapid weight gain recently, TRUST it is not your lack of willpower that has caused it, IT IS THE FOOD.
In response to several inquiries about my relatively recent post-baby weight loss, a dedication to helping people use medication as a LAST resort to becoming healthier and devotion to my dad's well coined term "nutritional justice" I have created the food guide below. I'm going to try not to get bogged down in lots of details to make it easier to read so if you have any questions or would like more information/evidence please feel free to ask!
Just to quickly re-cap the major points posited in Nutritional Justice Parts 1 & 2, I'm providing this guide based on research as well as subjective opinion that:
1) Our Bodies Do Not Want Us To Eat Unidentified Fried Objects (AKA "UFO's" AKA Mickey D's Chicken Nuggets)
-Our bodies are not genetically designed nor have had enough time to evolve toward digesting food from McDonald's, KFC and the like. Nor are we designed to digest most of the food in our supermarkets.
2) Some Processed Foods ARE Necessary. We Can NOT Eat Like Ancestral "Cave men" b/c Most of Us, Myself Included, Are Far Too Lazy
- We must eat some minimally processed foods. Not only are many of the foods consumed during the Paleolithic era unavailable to us, most of us, given our locations and/or lifestyles do not have the time nor ability to hunt game, or gather fruits and vegetables. Additionally, few of us are able to farm extensively - doing so can be time-consuming, energy intensive and requires know-how and space many don't have (especially us city-folk)
3) The "Obesity Epidemic", As It's Currently Framed, Is A Farce.
- Epidemiological studies have shown that what is really occurring is that those that are heavier than their own biologically pre-determined normal weight, are a lot getting heavier. This skews the data and makes it seem like the entire nation is getting considerably heavier at an "alarming" rate.
-Furthermore, the obesity epidemic as a medical concern is just a way for pharmaceutical companies and dieting agencies to make more money. Studies have shown that "Obesity" is not the cause of poor health outcomes such as diabetes and heart disease - poor food choice and sedentary lifestyle are. Those with a "normal" BMI who eat poorly and are sedentary are FAR more likely to develop diabetes and/or heart disease than someone who has a much higher BMI but eats well and is physically active.
Okay so straight to the point...
To Eat More Healthfully, What Foods Should Be Eaten in Limited Quantities, Phased out and/or Avoided?
1) Prepared/Fast foods - cook from scratch as often as possible ( if you do nothing else this will make a world of a difference even if you fry EVERYTHING)
2) Foods that say "Diet", "Low fat"etc - they are full of additives and sugar, don't taste as good as the real thing and leave you unsatisfied = craving/eating more than you need to
3) Soda, ESPECIALLY "Diet" soda
4) Boxed/Packaged foods that have more than 5 ingredients and/or list the following in the first 1-3 ingredients: Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt
5) Foods with the additives in this link: http://health.msn.com/nutrition/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=100204508&imageindex=1&q=12+Food+Additives+to+Avoid
6) Ground meat at most SUPERMARKETS
7) Beef or pork sold at most SUPERMARKETS
Chicken sold at most SUPERMARKETS
9) Seafood sold at most SUPERMARKETS, particularly albacore tuna and other large fish (large fish = more mercury)
10) Dessert items with a lot of ingredients, many of which are hard to pronounce and clearly unnatural
12) Sugar laden yogurts (buy plain yogurt and pour a ton of honey on it if you want to and slowly reduce the amount you add, but try to avoid yogurts that already have sugar in them)
13) Most cereals = Vitamin Fortification & Sugar = Empty calories
14) Vitamin fortified cereals, snacks, sodas and non 100% juices - A Lot of cereals and snacks are fortified as a marketing gimmick, many of the vitamins in fortified foods aren't bio-available aka the only way to get them is from REAL foods
15) Salad dressings and canned soups with a lot of ingredients including salt and corn syrup
16) M&Ms, Mars bars and other confectionery chocolates
So What's Left to Eat?? A LOT!!!
The following set of items are from my grocery list. It is definitely not comprehensive or all inclusive, just meant to give an idea of what foods are considered healthy/whole and debunk myths about the harm of whole foods like eggs.
(Note: All are either organic and/or locally grown which usually = expensive, I'll definitely get to the cost question in the next note.)
FRUITS: Organic Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Tomatoes, Oranges, Blueberries, Strawberries
VEGETABLES: Organic Carrots, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Onions, Yams, Green Beans, Zucchini
HERBS/ROOTS: Organic cilantro, basil, parsley, dill, garlic, ginger
SEEDS/NUTS/GRAINS/PASTA: Whole walnuts, almonds, almond butter, coarsely ground flax seeds, organic brown rice, plain oatmeal with fruit and/or sweetener added (excellent for those with high cholesterol), fresh wheat flour and/or whole grain breads without additives or 2-5 different types of sugar (ie honey, maltose, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar), organic and/or locally made durham wheat pasta/ravioli
MEATS: Turkey from the farmer's market, ground turkey from the farmer's market, organic chicken (for those that eat red meat, the grass-fed farm raised beef and pork are far safer and better for you than the packaged variety in the supermarket) See
for more details
SEAFOOD: Wild Atlantic Salmon (NOT farm raised, it's fed all kinds of animal body parts and dyes), Wild Halibut, Shrimp, Scallops, canned brown NON-albacore tuna
DAIRY: Organic milk, plain yogurt (it's better to add fruits and a sweetener yourself), eggs (unless you currently have high cholesterol or underlying medical problem, eating an egg or 2 a day will not raise it), butter (REAL butter, NOT foul tasting margarine and other substitutes), organic/local rich flavorful cheeses without additives (can be expensive but a little goes a long way)
ICE-CREAM: Homemade ice-cream made with organic ingredients, store bought Van Leeuwen's brand ice cream (the Vanilla-bourbon one is the best vanilla ice-cream I've EVER tasted!) & other locally made ice creams made with real food ingredients like cream, milk, cane sugar and eggs and not stuff like propyl gallate and other strangely named ingredients.
CHOCOLATE: The higher the cocoa percentage the better/healthier, but even 32% fair trade organic chocolate made with cocoa sugar milk and no additives is better than M & Ms and the like, and over time the latter will taste artificial and gross (trust I used to eat BAGS - yes plural- of M & Ms)
COOKIES & CAKES: Make 'em from scratch (or buy locally prepared with few ingredients) and they'll be far healthier, tastier and less expensive
BEVERAGES: Water, Carbonated water with 100% juice added to taste (juice = sugar water plus vitamins, try to eat rather than drink most of your fruit), tea gradually less sweetened, homemade hot chocolate (dark chocolate, organic milk, cane sugar to taste)
WHERE TO BUY: Farmer's markets, CSA's, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fairway, Some supermarkets
In sum, try to eat food that you prepare from scratch or is minimally processed, drink plenty of water, eat lots of fruits & veggies and concern yourself with enjoying rich full flavors rather than counting calories. FOOD IS MEANT TO BE ENJOYED! Hope this is helpful to those who have requested the info, more to come next week!