Friday, July 9, 2010

Food Rules? What Rules?

The topic of dietary rules is a tough one, and an issue I've struggled with over the last two years or so.  There are a LOT of people who have certain diets they follow, where they can eat some things, not others, or it depends on what day it is, or what other foods they're eating at the time.  For example, there is a book out that tells you only to eat fruits first thing in the morning, and never with anything else.  Ridiculous.

My theory is, if you eat Real Foods then you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.  Real Foods, in this case, are fresh (organic when possible) vegetables and fruits, properly raised animal meat, butter from pastured cows, cheese, full-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, and brown rice.  Limit or remove refined carbs like sugar and flour from your diet, and don't eat processed foods with their subsequent chemicals and additives.  Once a food is highly processed, it's no longer food.  Period.  So why eat it???

One sure-fire way to tell if a product is processed is if it's in a box, bottle, can, or bag.  The only "processed" foods that are good for you are olive oil, coconut oil, and dairy products, all of which (obviously) come in containers.  But there is a limited amount of processing that is done to these foods, so they remain ok.  Basically, for things like sour cream and yogurt, a culture is added to the milk/cream and it is allowed to develop at a certain temperature, then packaged.  That's it.  Same for butter, all that happens to the cream is that it gets churned and then packaged once it becomes butter.  Still Real Food.

Another exception is dehydrated foods, but ONLY if there is nothing added to them, like sulphites.   Invest in a dehydrator yourself (I hear good things about the Excalibur brand, although I don't have one) and make your own banana chips, "fruit roll ups," trail mix, granola, sesame chips, jerky, and more.  The great thing about using a dehydrator is that it leaves the foods "raw," by which I mean, the temperature used to dry the food is low, and therefore all of the enzymes and good bacteria survive the process.  This is called "living food."

Another bonus about having a dehydrator is that you can sprout and dry things like nuts.  If you're really gung ho, you can sprout, dry, then grind your own flour to make sprouted flour breads and baked goods.  Doing this turns the grain into more like a vegetable, the way it is processed in your body, with significantly higher vitamin and mineral content, and lowered phytate amounts.  Sprouted grains are actually good for you, rather than bad.

The only "real" rule I follow for eating within the Real Foods food group is that I try to avoid GMO foods.  Genetically modified organisms are hazardous to your health in so many ways.  Besides the inherent problems with GMO themselves, there is another reason you should avoid GMOs, and that's the pesticide use.  GMO foods like corn, soy, cottonseed and rapeseed (canola) are all modified so that more and more pesticides can be used on the crops.  That translates into more and more pesticides going into your body.  In addition, the foods are mutated and not natural and cause cancer and birth defects and fertility issues....disgusting.

The quickest and easiest way to eat a diet full of GMO foods is to eat the Standard American (or Canadian) Diet.  It's chock-full of processed GMO foods.  I guarantee that anything that has corn or soy or cottonseed oil or canola oil in it is a genetically modified food.  Anyway, the best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic.  Certified organic produce cannot be genetically modified.  Or look for a "GMO-free" label.

One of the concerns of GMO is that the cows and pigs you eat were raised on GMO corn and soy products. The only way to avoid that is to know the farmer who raised them, or to buy organic meat products.

Well, that turned more into a rant than I expected, but that's generally the gist of how we eat around here.  Lots of fruits and veggies, eggs from pastured chickens, raw milk and subsequent products I make from that like yogurt and labneh (yogurt cheese made from straining whey from the yogurt), whey, ice cream, and sometimes butter).  I'd love to say we eat all pastured, grass-fed beef, but it's just not in our budget right now. When we can get our hands on pastured chickens and turkeys we eat those.  And the local grocery store has a "free-from" line of pork, beef and chicken, which basically states that no antibiotics or hormones/steroids are used while raising the meat.  Also, they are not fed animal products.  That's a good thing.  One day we will be able to purchase all locally-grown, pastured, grass-fed beef and pastured chickens and healthy pigs, but right now we'll do the best we can and try to avoid the factory farmed meat.

Go out to your pantry and have a look.  Is it full of boxes and cans?  Or are your cupboards empty except for baking supplies, like mine?  My problem is an over-stuffed fridge.  And that's how it should be.  The only thing in your cupboard should be dried meats, fruits, and nuts, and preserved items like canned produce, soups, and stews that you made yourself.  THAT'S how you know you eat real food.

This post participated in Fight Back Friday over on Food Renegade!

1 comment:

  1. I think your rule/no rule is spot on! Great post/rant!