Saturday, November 02, 2013

Food for Thought

Pamela Hsieh
Rehab Revolution
25 October 2013

I’ve had requests for articles on food, but I’ve put off writing them because over the years, I’ve realized some truths among all the confusion. Not only this, but I wasn’t really ready to tackle it until recently, as I’ve made some major lifestyle changes (thanks to Tony Robbins, of course).

Red quinoa salad -- yum!
Without further ado -- here are five discoveries I’ve made about food, nutrition, and the industry.

1. There’s a lot of controversy and contradiction even among experts. Do you eat meat? Drink milk? Like peanut butter? Want to snack? Drink coffee? I’ve heard opposing stances from food/nutrition authorities coming from every angle for each of these things. Which brings me to . . .

2. Every body is different. Ultimately, what works for one body may not work for another. We all have varying sensitivities, from what we like to what we’re allergic to or what weaknesses we have built into our bodies. I know a guy who swears by eating identical meals every single day, and another who essentially fasts all day until dinner, at which point he practically binge-eats. I disagree with both these approaches, but at the same time, I do think a large part of what eating habits work for us is the result of trial and error. Not everyone benefits from cutting out certain types of food from their lifestyles, but for one reason or another, others will swear by it.

3. There are multiple dimensions to every claim you’ll find. In keeping with number one, sometimes you kind of have to weigh the pros and cons to any food choice you make. For instance, there are some authorities who tout coffee in moderation as good for you (because of the antioxidants), and others who shun it as detrimental (for its acidity or for its caffeine). When it comes to these things, I think it’s really up to you and your particular strengths and weaknesses to decide what’s more important.

4. A lot of experts place too much emphasis on weightloss. While most of us would probably love to release a few pounds (I certainly am not immune), unless you are actually obese and it is truly an issue that is hindering your well being -- and thus, is a health issue -- the reason why this bothers me is because calorie counting culture promotes more what you look like than what’s going inside your body and feeding your organs and bloodstream. This is like promoting Oreos because they are vegan. No matter how you look at it (or how the cookie crumbles, if you’re so inclined!), an Oreo is not a health food. I much prefer looking at food from a health perspective as opposed to aiming to have a slimmer physique. Look, eat healthy and exercise, and the excess weight will naturally come off. I speak from very recent experience!

5. You have to do your research on most things. Question EVERYTHING. I’ve found, annoyingly, that the United States food industry has among the most corrupt business practices I’ve ever seen, and you can’t just take someone’s word for it. There are hidden, potentially harmful ingredients in most processed foods, and often even things we’ve been raised to believe are really good for us have skeletons in their closets. So just because it’s organic or “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely risk-free. I’ve built up pretty good intuition on this type of thing over time, and you will too. A good resource I’ve found is Foodbabe’s blog. A word of warning, though, doing research on what you’ve been eating can be very disconcerting. Better to know than not, though, as eating what’s easy comes with a hidden, VERY expensive price tag that usually sneaks up on you after years’ worth of accumulation.

Personally, I think it’s irrational and unrealistic to eat perfectly. There probably is no such thing, so generally speaking I aim for an 80/20 ratio. This way, I never feel deprived of little indulgences, but on the whole, I feel great and I’m nourishing myself properly most of the time.

Some people recommend having “cheat days,” but I dislike this approach for myself because it creates a sort of worshippy mentality when it comes to crappy food. Plus, if you do eat clean regularly, the idea of an entire day of cheating sounds like a nightmare. (Take it from me -- the stomachaches, bloating, feeling like you’re going to vomit is so not worth it.)

All this said, I’m wary of labeling myself any kind of authority on food. There is so much opposing information out there, so much confusion, that a lot of the time I’m not even sure where I stand. (This is very uncomfortable for me, as I usually have very strong stances on any belief I hold.) I’m happy to share what it is I eat in the form of recipes or Instagram (#rehabrevolution) photos, and I’m down with writing some content that I feel will be helpful in educating you on little-known facts about foods a lot of us eat, but I want you to take it with a grain of salt.

Please be the pioneer of your own body’s health. I can’t possibly know what’s best for your body, so take my words as a guide, not as law.

To our healing,

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