Saturday, September 6, 2008

Real Food

In our family, we grew up eating healthy, balanced meals, produced as freshly as possible. I remember at some point my father not even allowing any canned foods in the house. My parents had a huge garden at the weekend cottage where they produced a surplus of vegetables we would bring back home for the week and share with family and friends. I wasn’t even conscious of whether I was eating well or not until I went to college and my roommate commented on how well I put together my meals as she pulled a frozen dinner out of the freezer.

In my mid-twenties I became very food and diet conscious, almost to the point of obsession. For example, I would scrutinize the tiny ingredient list on labels, and if I saw high fructose corn syrup, back it went. This proved to be difficult because most products at the supermarket use it. Eventually, I learned not to stress too much about every detail. The important thing was to eat food as high quality and fresh as possible, to eat in moderation, and to enjoy it!

A good set of guidelines to eating real food is “Six Rules to Live By,” provided by Michael Pollan and available on the blog of nutrition expert Tina Ruggiero. Definitely worth a read or a reread. Here’s the list in brief, but visit the page to get the specifics.
  1. Don’t eat anything your great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  2. Avoid foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  3. Spend more, eat less.
  4. Pay no heed to nutritional science or the health claims on packages.
  5. Shop at the farmers’ market.
  6. How you eat is as important as what you eat.
Real food involves buzz words such as local, organic and sustainable agriculture. What do they mean exactly? Marissa Lippert, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, succinctly explains these terms and shows us their benefits in her article “How to find real food: Tips for improving your plate.”

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