I had to do a blog about this. It’s something I’ve needed to put into words for awhile now. Hopefully this article will make more sense of my pauses or “hmm” or head scratching that I may do when you ask me the question:
“Is this healthy?” I get asked this all the time, usually accompanied by a photo of a nutritional content label or the actual food item. Truth is: it’s probably not if you have to ask. BUT, small caveat here, I’m a meet-you-where-you’re-at kinda naturopath and I filter my response where each patient is in their journey to optimum health. I filter through each patient before answering. Any improvement in the eating habit du jour is fabulous in my book!
I should also mention, “healthy” is defined differently based on source. For example, type in “good fats” online and there are “reputable” sources that say dairy and cheese are “extremely nutritious and healthy.” It’s all so overwhelming, especially the discrepancies you’ll find out there. So it’s no wonder you’re confused! I am but one source that you hopefully will trust to give you the real skinny on healthy eating. Naturopaths tend to be more “finicky” or picky on what you allow into your body.
Here’s an attempt at a very simple explanation to all this (it’s so much more complex!). We know that we can heal our bodies based on what we put in it or on it. So any improvement, no matter how small the shift, is a step in the right direction. I know change in any form is difficult, so I typically ask patients to follow the baby-steps method to get closer to optimum intake.
The criteria determining where you are along your path to optimum eating starts with how much or little you’re eating of the following:
- Processed foods
- Soda intake
- Organic foods
- Whole/Refined carbs
We know most items on a shelf and in a box more than likely include ingredients not preferred to bring into our bodies. To make something shelf stable, the item typically has been processed to death (anything healthy (e.g., nutrients) has been stripped out) and ingredients have been added to make it shelf stable (usually a lot of sugar or salt), including artificial ingredients and chemicals. So avoiding processed foods is high on the “cut” list.
There are good fats and there are bad. Nuts, seeds, omega-3s, avocado-these are fats that are good and help your body make healthy cholesterol, feed your brain, reduce inflammation, and make hormones. High levels of trans and saturated fats are not preferred for you.
The research is plentiful on why soda is not preferred for you, including consumption contributing to GERD or acid reflux, obesity, dehydration, tooth decay, cancer, diabetes and more. It isn’t doing your body any favors, that’s for sure.
Organic eating means fewer pesticides and heavy metals in your food, no antibiotics or synthetic hormones in your meat, and more antioxidants and Omega-3s in some cases (according to studies https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b01352, https://www.health.com/food/organic-milk-and-meat-have-higher-nutrient-levels-study).
Whole carbohydrates contain fiber that is naturally in the food and is not processed (e.g., veggies, legumes, whole fruit, potatoes, whole grains). We LOVE fiber in our diet. Refined carbs have stripped out all that is whole and good for you (that includes the fiber!) through the processing (e.g., sugar-sweetened drinks, juices, white things (like bread, pasta, rice), pastries).
We’re in the process of working on a questionnaire to determine where you’re at along your healthy eating journey. There is no judgment at all on where you’re at. It simply gives us a better snapshot of you and where we need to meet you along the path. Look for that next month!