I recently received some push back and “dislikes” on the Healthy Living How To Facebook Page after extolling the “healthiness” of bacon. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, within the framework of my food philosophy, bacon is very much a healthy food choice.
This got me to thinking, while I haven't exactly hidden the fact I live a low-carb lifestyle and believe in the medicinal benefits of real food, perhaps “My Food Philosophy” needs to be spelled out a little more clearly for those who are new to Healthy Living How To.
While I know a lot of you reading this are coming from a low-carb/paleo/primal/ancestral background, I also know some of you are brand new to this healthy living ballgame. Perhaps you are developing your own food philosophy and trying to reconcile what conventional wisdom and Dr. Oz says with what the “Just Eat Real Food” movement professes. The truth is, nothing has more influence on our health than the food we put in our mouth. The food choices we make each and every day have the power to both heal and harm us. It is truly a shame we live in a country where eating real food, like eggs and bacon with a side of vegetables for breakfast is considered unhealthy or even extreme, while having a bowl of processed breakfast cereal with pasteurized and homogenized fat-free milk along with a glass of high fructose corn syrup sweetened juice is normal.
So here's the deal my friends, I am going to share my food philosophy, however, I am not looking for advice or debate. The framework of this website and all the recipes I create are based on my food philosophy. I am not saying everyone should eat exactly like I do. However, I think it's important to mention, while we all have some degree of metabolic individuality, we are also very much the same.
What's Your Food Philosophy?
I do not have a mile long list of credentials, there is no PhD, MD, RD or any other “D” after my name. What I do have is a brain and the God-given ability to seek out knowledge. I have done and continue to do my due diligence in nutrition research. Because of the nature of my handsome husband Tom's career, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to some of the top nutrition and metabolic experts in the world. Talk about a blessing! I can't tell you the number of experts who have willingly responded to my incessant e-mails filled with questions. My beliefs in nutrition are backed by science as well as personal and professional experience. The three markers I look at, to assess whether my food philosophy is working for me, are, my overall health, weight and body composition as well as sustainability and satisfaction. With all that being said, this is my food philosophy:
” I eat the highest quality real food that fits within our budget. For the most part, this includes grass fed beef & lamb, pastured poultry & pork, wild caught fish, farm fresh eggs, raw nuts & seeds, organic non-starchy vegetables & low-sugar fruit. I round out my meals with healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil and olive oil and start my day with a cup or two of coffee. Depending on my activity in the gym, I will re-fuel with a starchy tuber or a banana. I do my best to avoid grains, vegetable oils and sugar, even natural sugars like honey & maple syrup, instead I use naturally low-carb sweeteners like stevia, erythritol and xylitol. I also limit legumes and beans. I occasionally enjoy and indulge in a glass of wine or clear spirits and more frequently some dark chocolate. Finally I use nutritional supplements wisely.”
First and foremost my food philosophy takes into consideration how the foods I eat impact my health. The health of my organs like my brain, heart and skin, the health of my teeth, my blood, bones and my metabolism. I view all foods through the same lens and consume those foods I know enhance or lend to my health and steer clear of those foods that detract or steal from my health. I pay special attention to the health of my brain as I have a genetic propensity for Alzheimer's disease and my mother has Lewy Body Disease. This is one of the reasons I quit drinking diet pop or consuming anything with the artificial sweetener aspartame. In order to measure the impact my food philosophy has on my health, I get very comprehensive blood work done on a regular basis keeping a close eye on sex hormones, thyroid, cortisol, lipids, glucose, insulin, inflammation, complete blood chemistry, neurotransmitters, vitamin D levels, omega 3 status as well as food allergies. I was praised by my doctor, after my most recent longevity and vitality panel, as having the best labs he's seen in a long time.
Body Composition & Weight Management
Secondly, my food philosophy allows me to eat foods which naturally regulate my appetite without counting calories or macronutrients. As a result, I have a healthy BMI and athletic body fat percentage. I rarely weigh myself on the scale, however, I know I am successfully managing my weight as my size 2-4's haven't gotten snug and I regularly make sure my skinny jeans fit. While 80% of what my body looks like on the outside is the result of my food philosophy, the other 20% is the result of weight training, walking and the occasional sprinting.
Sustainability & Satisfaction
Lastly, I measure the success of my food philosophy based on its sustainability and satiety. I have lived a low-carb lifestyle for more than a decade and in the last five years, my nutrition has come to resemble that which many label primal/paleo/ancestral. I would say my food philosophy is most definitely sustainable. Because I view all food through the lens of either adding or subtracting from my health, I can't remember the last time I made the choice to cheat my health in favor of short-term satisfaction. I don't say this to be smug, but the truth is, I don't have any cravings or emotional attachment to food and my hunger is always satisfied with my food philosophy.