Over the last few months Matt and I have really put a microscope on what we eat. It all started when we watched Dr. Mark Hyman’s docuseries ‘Broken Brain’ and ‘Broken Brain 2’. He connected diseases like Parkinson’s, Dementia, Depression, Digestive health, Autism, plus many more to our (America’s) diet. We choose convenience over cooking. We choose affordable over quality. We choose sugar-rich processed foods over whole natural foods. This way of eating is the cause for our chronic disease and obesity epidemic. Matt and I have learned so much when it comes to food over the last few months it has been a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, in this blog I will tackle the two main takeaways that we use every day.
1) Starch = Sugar
Sugar. You hear this word and think candy bar. But, did you know your body treats ‘healthy’ breads and pastas just like a candy bar? The body does discriminate between simple (table sugar) and complex (breads) carbohydrates. This statement was a game changer for me, “Eating two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar” (What the Heck Should I Eat?). And then we have the government saying we should be consuming 6-11 servings of grains (aka sugar) per day. This amount of sugar ‘is essentially the metabolic mechanism single-handedly responsible for today’s global epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia and cancer” (What the Heck Should I Eat?). Lastly, unused sugar is stored in your fat cells and no amount of exercise will get rid of it.
2) Fat is good for you
Like most of you, from a young age I was told fat was going to make me fat and clog my arteries and kill me. With that fear instilled in me, I consumed high amounts of carbs and very little fat. During this time, I was never fat (being an athlete helped with that) but I always on the heavier side of my ‘healthy weight’. So why, if I was following the governments guidelines to healthy eating, wasn’t I fit and trim? (See point number 1). Did you know fats keep us feeling full? They increase our metabolism? Our brain is made of fat and needs fat to function? So why is the government telling us to use fat sparingly? Now, there are still some fats we want to stay away from like hydrogenated vegetable oils (aka Crisco and margarine, vegetable oil) and too many Omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oil, packaged and processed foods). Omega-6 isn’t necessarily bad for you but too much induces inflammation (disease) within the body. Aim to have a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 and 6. Overall, don’t be afraid to put real butter on our veggies (or bread), whole fat dressing (reduced fat just means they added more sugar) on your salad, or yummy avocado atop your eggs. One final fun fact on fat: A 2012 Harvard study found that a high-fat diet, compared to a low-fat diet, increases your metabolism by 300 calories a day!
Overall, this is just the tip of the iceberg but a great place to start. Limit your carb intake and enjoy bringing healthy fat back into your life. Whenever I’m not sure about a food I ask myself, “Does nature provide this for me?”. If it doesn’t, then I look for something it does.
Enjoy and let me know how your journey with food has changed overtime here.
If you want more information pick up Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, Food: What the Heck Should I eat, and listen to his podcast, The Doctors Farmacy.