Eat REAL food = Taking Responsibility
Before we begin…
Are you drinking half of your bodyweight in ounces of water a day? The answer should be YES!
Whether your goals are performance, weight loss, detoxification or longevity, proper hydration is essential. While we’re on the subject of hydration be sure to drink out of BPA free containers. BPA is a harmful chemical in plastics that leaches out into the contents of the container.
Next Question: Are you getting your greens with a salad every day? I hope the answer is yes.
Experiment with different salad ingredients so you can get a greater variety of nutrients from different foods. Try a different kind of green, raw veggie or berry varietal.
Another easy way to get a massive variety of nutrient dense greens with minimum preparation and without stuffing your belly full of vegetables is to start taking a greens powder supplement. There are plenty of quality brands available. I recommend Dr. Schulze Superfood, which is the one I personally take and that we carry at the gym.
Why I like Superfood: Dr. Schulze Superfood 100% organic ingredient list and dosing stacks up favorably to any greens powder currently on the market. The super foods Dr. Schulze has picked are impressive for their micronutrient density and variety. I appreciate how good things like Blue Green Algae, Purple Dulse, Chlorella, and Acerola Cherry are for me, but I would never get them in my diet if I didn’t get them from this greens powder, so it fills in those important gaps. Another reason I choose Dr. Schulze is the generous dosing of all the ingredients.
The big advantage to supplementing with a greens powder is that you can get the nutritional benefits of a massive variety of nutrient dense fruits and vegetables without having to break the bank with your grocery bill. You also don’t have to figure out numerous ways to prepare and eat everything because it’s a powder that’s ready to mix.
Last Question: Did you move with intention for at least 45-minutes, 5 days a week?
This the absolute minimum amount of intentional movement needed to be functional. I don’t believe any of you started this 12 week journey to do the minimum or get the minimum in return, especially when you realize that doing the minimum only maintains the status quo.
On to the new stuff! This week the focus is on:
Eating REAL food. Taking Responsibility. Reading Labels.
I’m asking you to eliminate processed foods. It may surprise you that eating a healthy diet that energizes you and supports a lean physique doesn’t require tracking and calculating calories, eating on an alarm or any unnecessary mathematical gymnastics.
It’s really as simple as eating a diet that’s based on REAL food.
I’m not asking you to starve yourself or to miss out on delicious flavors. Quite the contrary, flavorful food is one of the great joyful experiences in life and you should feel satiated to ensure you’re properly fueled for optimal physical and mental performance!
Starting this week you will:
1) EAT REAL FOOD instead of processed food stuffs. A good rule of thumb is to do your shopping on the outside walls of the market where all the real food is located, or the farmer’s market.
2) Take full responsibility for what you put into your body. Don’t trust food manufacturers and think they have any of your best interests in mind. They don’t! Don’t eat/drink junk and blame it on other people because you didn’t have a choice. It’s your body, you’re an adult, and you always have a choice. You’re more resourceful than you give yourself credit for.
3) Read labels and ask questions about food preparation when you eat out. That’s what taking responsibility means!
Calories-in vs. calories-out doesn’t paint a clear picture of how your body responds to food and it certainly doesn’t determine your body composition. Preservatives, processed sugars, hydrogenated oils (trans-fat) and mutated nutrients from food processing interfere with proper digestion, detoxification, hormonal function and contribute to everything from insulin and leptin resistance to joint pain and chronic inflammation. This causes weight gain/prevent weight loss, to mood and energy disorders. Basically it wrecks havoc on your metabolism, which means they may be secretly sabotaging your health and fitness goals even when you think you’re nailing portion size and exercise (energy-in vs. energy out).
This is going to require you to start reading labels!!!
Consider this the first and most basic step towards taking full responsibility for your body rather than letting the food companies make decisions for you.
This is a short list of the ingredients you need to avoid:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) aka “corn syrup” aka “corn sugar”
- Hydrogenated Oils (trans-fat), including
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Cotton seed oil
- Artificial dyes - You shouldn’t be eating anything that has a color and associated number.
- Chemicals with names you can’t pronounce or spell.
You’re going to notice hydrogenated oils are in so many foods, even ones you probably thought were good for you. Almost every food in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods, for example, contains canola or soybean oil because it’s incredibly cheap.
When you’re doing your own food prep and cooking use coconut oil, butter, ghee (clarified butter), or lard like bacon drippings for cooking in place of hydrogenated oils. Olive oil is also a great oil replacement as long as you don’t heat it because it will oxidize and become toxic when heated.
Rather than becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by what you perceive to be a lack of options, think of it as a signal that the time has come for you to purposefully take full responsibility for what you eat. This week (and through the subsequent weeks) some of you will be doing a lot more food preparation and cooking for yourself than you may be used to. That’s just the progression of responsibility.
Let’s also take a deep breath and consider the cornucopia of options you still have at your disposal:
- Any fruit and vegetable.
- Fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, any cut of beef and wild game.
- Any fermented and pickled foods, for example, sauerkraut, kimchi, cheese, and yogurt.
- Nuts and legumes
- Sprouted and whole grains.
In an effort to make Week 2 as easy as possible you need to do your grocery shopping at the right places. Here’s my short list of the best places to shop:
- Local farmer’s markets - Vast selection of real food that’s locally sourced; great organic selection; incredible high quality protein selection; products you can’t find anywhere else. We go to the Gretna Green market on Sundays every week.
- The Santa Monica Co-Op - Pros: The only market that carries raw milk. One of the best bulk food and bulk spices/seasoning sections you can find on the west side. Great selection of fermented foods and drinks too. Cons: Produce and proteins tend to be pricier, but they are of very high quality and locally sourced.
- Trader Joe’s - Thank goodness for TJ’s. Generally best selection for the price for produce unless you do a farm basket delivery. Also have a killer raw cheese selection...mmm cheese.
- US Wellness Meats - Go to www.uswellnessmeats.com. This is where we get 90% of our proteins. Every variety you can imagine from beef and fish to wild game and marrow bones.
- Erewhon - Pros: Incredible prepared foods section with almost no hydrogenated oils and bone broth blends made to order with fresh ginger, turmeric, and ghee = heaven for your gut health, skin, hair, nails and connective tissue; good selection of organic produce. Cons: Can be pretty pricey.
- Ralph’s - Pros: Stepping up the organic produce game over the last year; easy on the budget Cons: You’re not going to find good quality proteins.
- Whole Foods - I only include this on the list because they’re so convenient in Los Angeles and because there is a decent selection of real food, but it’s generally pricier than other options. Beware the prepared food section!!! Whole Foods is notorious for using hydrogenated oils, like canola oil, in almost every dish. Also, beware the Whole Food butcher. They advertise their meat is grass-fed, and they charge for it, but in actuality their meat is usually grass-fed until the last 90 days when they then fatten them up with grains. (The USDA allows grocers to advertise grass-fed as long as the animal is grass-fed for most of its life so you have to ask specifically if the animal is also grass-finished if the grocer doesn’t specify.)
On the occasions when you do eat-out, order-in, or pick-up prepared foods to go don’t cop out on your responsibility. It’s the train of thought that goes like,
“I’m eating out so I should celebrate a little.” Is it your birthday? Are you celebrating that “it’s Thursday” now? Chances are you live in a city that offers delicious food that’s also healthy.
“Everyone ordered (insert blah food) and I don’t want to be the only one that didn’t eat it.” Really, since everyone else is doing it? You’re attaching your standard for personal wellness with everyone else’s? That’s the surest way to becoming the average American, which according to current statistics is obese, pre-diabetic, and dependent upon pharmaceutical medications by their 30’s.
“It was Rachel’s birthday at the office so I had to have a piece of cake.”
I’m flat out rolling my eyes now because-
Those are the rationalizations that stand in the way of you making progress on your personal journey. And let me be clear on something, I’m not saying you should never again indulge. What I am pleading with you to do is to take responsibility over the next 11 weeks to find out how good you can feel, perform and look if you don’t indulge in those rationalizations. Give yourself enough time without toxic foods to establish your baseline for wellness, and then, when you know what optimal wellness feels like you can make the decision to indulge from a place of strength, rather than the whims of weakness! You may find out you love wellness and the sense of pride you feel in yourself for making conscious decisions to nourish your body more than you love the vices that currently hold sway over you. At the very least I think you’ll develop the self control to indulge in moderation when the time comes.
This is all part of your evolution. The crucial step of taking responsibility and knowing exactly what’s going in your body is the bedrock of the transformational journey.
This step of eating REAL food is non-negotiable, a must do. So do it! And reap the wonderful benefits!
BONUS: Really want to geek out? Read this!
Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, PhD, This book gives the best explanation I’ve read to date on negative health implications of hydrogenated oils and sugar. Dr. Shanahan also dispels some of the most common food myths that have become conventional wisdom in the Western medical community, for example, that eating fat makes you fat, that saturated fat causes heart disease and that your dairy should be pasteurized. She explains everything through the lens of how food can actually change your genes for the good or bad. Don’t be scared off by the title. This book is a quick and accessible read for anyone. This is the first book on nutrition I recommend to family, friends and clients, especially anyone who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant.