You know the expression: you are what you eat. Native Americans who lived in the Northeast believed they were one with the deer because venison was a primary food source. The corn, squash and beans were referred to as the Three Sisters because they provided a full range of nutrients. The Native Americans knew this centuries before nutritional science broke our molecular needs down into proteins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals.
In our modern health quest, there are many food “systems” we can turn to for guidance: blood type diets, ayurvedic, macrobiotic, raw food, inflammation-reducing diets, cleanses, Paleo, low-carb, no-carb, etc. How does one choose?
Unless your doctor has given you a medically-prescribed diet for a specific condition, there are a few guidelines that give you a good place to start.
1. Be mindful about food
Are you aware of what you eat? This may sound obvious, but it can be a surprisingly complex question to answer. Marketers depend on emotional food associations to sell us things we wouldn’t choose to ingest otherwise. Do you make a conscious choice about every item in your grocery basket? Do you make a conscious choice every time food goes in your mouth?
2. Buy local seasonal foods from growers you know who use organic (or close to organic) growing methods.
Among folk healers there is a strong belief that Nature’s local offerings provide the best remedies for seasonal diseases, that the soil and its produce contain what we need for the health challenges that present as we move through the seasons. Eat local apples, carrots, beets, kale, and cabbage through the cold months instead of citrus brought from warmer climates. As regulations regarding what can be labeled as organic change, it can be challenging to know what it means that a product is labeled “organic.” Organic growing processes have changed as large corporations move into the organic boom. Getting to know your grocer or farmer means you can get answers about how the food is produced. You may decide to choose a “mostly organic,” Integrated Pest Management, or “low or no antibiotic” food item from a farmer you know over an ambiguously organic item from a corporate farm in Chile or California.
3. If you must buy prepackaged food, buy foods with ingredients you recognize and can pronounce.
For those of us who aren’t food scientists this guideline keeps us away from mystery chemicals. We need foods that the body can break down, use to maintain health and eliminate. Mystery chemicals can be wild cards in a system that, while miraculous in its ability to sustain us, can become unbalanced by chemicals that don’t naturally occur in food.
By using these guidelines as you approach what you eat, you can feed your cells the best fuel and give your body the nutritional resources best suited for building and maintaining your amazing physical structure. Every molecule in your body comes from what you take in as breath or food. You are what you eat.