Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eat Real Food, Most of the Time

This is the 7th post of a 13 part series on my Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:

What “should" you eat to be healthy? Ah. What a can of worms I just opened.
Ew.  Worms. *gags*
I don’t eat worms, just for the record. Not even gummy worms. I’ve heard the real ones are high in protein. Maybe in an apocalyptic or lost-in-the-woods situation where the alternative is to starve…but I digress.
Where was I? Eating healthy. Eat Real Food.
When asked what rules I follow for healthy eating, I always think about the movie Robocop. Remember the original? Robocop was given four Prime Directives:
1.  Serve the public trust. 

2.  Protect the innocent. 

3.  Uphold the law. 

4.  Classified. 

Ah, the Classified Prime Directive. Remember what it was? He was programmed to be unaware of it unless it became relevant. If you remember, post it in the comments.
Like Robocop, I have four very simple Prime Directives for eating:
1.  Eat real food. 

2.  Mostly vegetables. 

3.  In appropriate amounts. 

4.  Classified. 

But unlike Robocop my Classified Prime Directive is always relevant and must be remembered at all times. What is it? Keep reading…
What is “real” food, you ask? I’m going to keep this as simple as I can. Real food is as close to the original food as you can get. Fresh or frozen meat, vegetables, herbs, dairy, non-hydrogenated natural fats, whole grains, and fruit. If it has an ingredient list, it’s probably not “real” food.

What do I mean by “mostly vegetables”? If you need a concise answer, my rule of thumb is veggies should cover half your plate, which means you can double or even triple the veggies at any meal. I serve a fresh salad, along with the main vegetable dish.

Appropriate amounts? That depends on what you’re eating, but here are some generally accepted portion sizes for different types of food, but keep in mind you wouldn’t eat all of this at one meal. Maybe at Thanksgiving, but you’d be hurting. Strive for a balanced combination on your plate:

4-6 oz. of lean protein
1/2 cup cooked veggies
1 cup raw vegies
1/2 cup fresh fruit
1/2 cup cooked rice/potatoes
1 cup whole wheat pasta
1 tsp. olive/coconut/canola oil/butter
Notice I haven’t said thing one about what NOT to eat. There’s more to the story.
Even the simple question about what constitutes real food has become this complicated and confusing argument that makes most red-blooded Americans want to throw up our hands and say “screw it!”
Do a Google search on “healthy eating” and you’ll get a stew of mixed up directives that make you want to gouge out your eyes and go eat cheesecake.
Did you watch Robocop 2? If you did, then you know that his original Prime Directives were usurped by a committee-sanctioned litany of directives that made him practically incapable of action. Sound familiar?
Do you want to scream, “What the heck IS the right way to eat ??” as you scroll through every piece of contradicting advice and healthy eating platitudes ad naseaum on the Internet?
Whatever your current reason (to lose weight, to get off blood-pressure meds, to be able to play with your kids) the bottom line is:
You want to enjoy your life. You want to feel better.

Am I right?
Keeping this in mind, here again are my 4 Prime Directives, but I’ve de-classified the fourth:
1. Eat real food.
2. Mostly vegetables.
3. In appropriate amounts.
4. All eating rules can be broken in a mindful manner.
 While it’s very important to start incorporating real food, mostly vegetables, in appropriate amounts, it’s also very important to ease these healthy eating habits into your life one step at a time. 

NOWHERE in my heathy eating rules is there a no or a don’t. Why? Because, my dear friends, I know human nature. Tell me I can’t have or do something and, um, yeah. Especially when it comes to food, all I want is whatever you said I can’t have. Childish, I know, but heh heh. What can I say? That’s me. Human. 

And allowing for human nature, I strive to follow rules one through three 85% of the time. The other 15%? That’s why Prime Directive 4 was invented: All eating rules can be broken in a mindful manner.
For example, on my 18th wedding anniversary we had Bavarian food at my favorite restaurant. Sooooo, I was extra good about the first three Prime Directives all week, knowing full well that I would have a seriously delicious opportunity to mindfully break the rules at the Bavarian Chef.

I know this one is the toughest healthy life habit to get a handle on, but if you commit to taking one tiny step at a time you can master your food. And your life.


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