If you read a lot of fitness and nutrition blogs, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about a few things: IF (Intermittent Fasting), Paleo, Clean Eating, among other things. I do not follow IF, if only because I’m a ravenous beast in the morning when I don’t eat breakfast. Paleo doesn’t appeal to me for a number of reasons. But just because I don’t follow these practices, doesn’t mean that I think they are wrong, I just think that they might not be the best for me.
My food philosophy has little to do with strict rules and guidelines, and more to do with treating yourself well.
My very loosely followed guidelines are something like this:
- Eat REAL foods whenever possible. Vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, real butter(!), fruits, etc. When you’re eating real, unprocessed foods, your body is better able to process and absorb the nutrients that it needs.
- Even when snacking on “bad” foods, eat real foods!* What is a Dorito anyway? What is that color? If you want to eat some scrumptious snack foods, then by all means go ahead. But try to at least eat something that is made from just a few real-food ingredients. My general rule is that if there are things on the ingredient list that you A) can’t identify, and B) can’t pronounce, then it’s probably not real food. Stay away! *Note: I’m a firm believer that there are actually no “Bad” foods. Just try to keep this kind of stuff to a minimum, and you’ll probably want it less anyway. See below.
- Eat more of the good stuff, and you’ll crave the fake stuff less. See, when I was in my early 20s, I ate all the convenience foods I could find. If it was frozen and made with some sort of cheese product, I was probably eating it. And it showed. And I craved it every day. Now that I eat much cleaner, even looking at that type of food in the grocery store makes my mouth go dry and my stomach turn a little bit. Stop eating non-food crap, and you’ll stop craving non-food crap!
- Appreciate quality over quantity. Real butter. Gourmet cheeses. Eat a candy bar. Are you satisfied? Probably not. Now eat a square of high quality, gourmet dark chocolate. Are you satisfied now? Most likely. Higher quality foods will satisfy you more than overly processed foods every time.
- Eat some fat. Peanut butter is my lifeline, and eggs are good for you! Try having a little bit of full fat, high quality cheese, and you’ll probably be 10 times more satisfied than eating 5 pieces of low-fat cheese. Not only does quality make a difference, but fat is satiating and including a moderate amount in your diet will help you to stay more satisfied than gorging yourself with any non-fat processed replacement.
So there you go. These are my loosely followed food “rules”. I say loosely, because I believe that there is room for just about anything in everyone’s diet, within reason. I am by no means the perfect eater, and I fall prey to sweets and snacks just like the rest of the world. But I understand that deprivation leads to self-control chaos, and indulging every once in a while helps to keep me sane and happy. Besides, what is a world without cupcakes and self-serve Fro-Yo?
What did I miss? What are Your food rules?