I read an article the other week that inspired me. It talked about the unrealistic assumptions we sometimes make about “diet” food being healthy. It’s from the sheer amount of “diet” products that are marketed to consumers that this idea is not very well understood. Let’s begin with a couple of pretty safe general rules, which really need to be taken to heart in order to embody a truly healthy lifestyle.
Everything You Buy is Strategically Marketed to Manipulate You into Thinking You Need it
If it comes in a box, or package, and has writing on it, chances are that a room full of men and women get paid a lot of money to ensure that you feel as though you can’t live without it. Anything that needs to tell you it’s “healthy” or that it is part of a “diet,” is likely lying. Real foods are obviously REAL, like a stalk of broccoli, or a carrot, or a dozen eggs. They don’t need anyone to tell you that they are food.
Real Food is Located Around the Perimeter of the Grocery Store – Avoid the Center
First off, shopping at the grocery store is a mandatory first step to healthy living. But once you arrive at the store, there are 30 aisles of multi-colored distractions to confuse you. Tip: Shop the perimeter. You’ll notice that all the real food is located around the perimeter of any grocery store. The produce section, the meat department, the dairy, and eggs are all around the perimeter. If you’ve found yourself scouring shelves within the center of the store, you’ve gone astray.
Don’t Shop Hungry
A lot of people say this, and it’s true. Unless you have some type of system for how you shop, it’s not a great idea to shop hungry. Often it results in buying a lot more snack type foods, and less foundational ingredients for meals. The reason is that when you’re in a grocery store hungry, all of the things that are already ready to eat stand out more.
Make a List, Check it Twice
A follow-up to “don’t shop hungry,” is making a list. Decide what types of healthy meals you want to make during the week, and what ingredients you’ll need. By writing down the ingredients you’re less likely to forget something, and more likely to actually make that healthy meal during the week. The worst is when you’re good intentions of making roasted beets and squash are dashed when, on Wednesday, you realize you don’t have any butter, or oil, and all your beets end up getting soft before you can make it to the store again.
It’s Okay to go Without, Less is More
There is an ever growing mentality, especially in America, that we are entitled to everything we want, right now. The idea that I need a little reward at the end of the day, or that I am being deprived of some basic human right if I don’t get a little treat is a major obstacle for getting out of unhealthy patterns. Most of human existence has thrived on lack and scarcity. Our bodies are actually very well adapted for it. Very few people will have health issues from skipping a meal, or not having dessert every night. Having introspection and awareness of how we emotionally respond to changes in our diets is an excellent, and necessary, component of learning how to eat better, differently, and ultimately, training ourselves to be healthier individuals. The next time you think you need to eat, ask yourself if this is true, or if there is something else happening in your mind, body, spirit.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.