by Natalie Schneider
Food is the building block of life; we need food and water to survive. Unfortunately, the food consumed as part of the standard American diet is highly processed and not nutritious. Despite all of the junk food and processed food out there, we can find healthy, unprocessed food to eat. Food can be delicious, nutritious and enjoyable. Experimenting with new recipes is a great way to add healthier food to your diet.
Processed vs. Whole Foods
Whole foods are foods that have just one or two ingredients on the label. They still have the bran/grain intact and have not been processed, fried or changed in form. Whole foods can include vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains (oatmeal, quinoa, barley, millet), and proteins such as beans and chicken.
When a label contains a list of more than five ingredients, it is a very processed food. Processed foods tend to have their nutrients (vitamin and minerals) removed through processing, so we don’t get the benefits — just the empty calories. Processed foods also tend to be loaded with added sugar or fats, hence more calories.
Organic vs. Non-organic
The majority of food is grown with the use of pesticides which are absorbed by the food, and then we in turn absorb these pesticides/chemicals. Although the food companies say that the levels of pesticides absorbed are safe, research shows that many people have very high levels of toxins in their bloodstream. These toxins have been linked to ADHD and breast cancer. For more information on the produce that contain the most and least pesticides, check out the Environmental Working Group’s List ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.
We also need to be aware of the animal products we eat as these may contain hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals to fatten them up and keep them disease-free. When we eat chicken or steak, we may be consuming hormones that our bodies do not need. Over the past five years we have seen a higher incidence of children who are resistant to antibiotics which some scientists attribute to the antibiotics being consumed in animal products.
Delicious, Nutritious and Enjoyable
Whole foods are delicious and some of them are naturally sweet. Start exploring with fruit which may satisfy a sweet tooth craving. Try fruits like carambola (starfruit) or papaya, which is supportive of digestion. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and can be eaten raw or lightly sautéed or steamed. To add flavor, include fresh garlic, onions, scallions, basil, rosemary and other spices from the spice rack.
Healthy Food Resources
For yummy and nutritious recipes, check out integrativenutrition.com/connect/recipes. A great source of organic local food is community supported agriculture or CSA. CSAs support local farmers and provide for weekly pick-up of fruits and vegetables. In Pompano Beach there is The Urban Farmer, and in Fort Lauderdale, Marando Farms CSA, and Fort Lauderdale Vegetables CSA, plus several others. Visit localfoodsouthflorida.org/producecsas.html for information on CSAs in south Florida.
Natalie Schneider is a health and nutrition coach located in Fort Lauderdale, and can be reached at NatalieWellness.com or 212-470-4200. See ad this page.