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Eating Healthfully

It occurred to me today that several years ago, I changed my tune. I went from "that food isn't good for me" to "that food isn't good". This, to me, is the difference between feeling punished by healthy food vs. preferring healthy food.

I know there are differing opinions about what healthy food is; I consider healthy food to be fresh and real, as opposed to chemical-laden and nutrient- and fiber-free. Others' ideas may be different...

What I also know is that I am more satisfied and find more enjoyment when the food is fresh and real. This frees me from the mindset that healthy food is some sort of punishment.


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  1. < I went from "that food isn't good for me" to "that food isn't good". This, to me, is the difference between feeling punished by healthy food vs. preferring healthy food. >

    I thought you went from being self-analysis (that food isn't good for me) to being public-awareness (that food isn't good (for anyone)).

    <I know there are differing opinions about what healthy food is; I consider healthy food to be fresh and real, as opposed to chemical-laden and nutrient- and fiber-free.>

    I prefer fresh and natural food ingredients over heavily altered and enhanced food. My thinking is sometime due to health, like you said, but many times have to do with proper skill set and art. Some time ago there was a post about adding MSG to food to enhance the favor. I personally do not believe MSG is particularly harmful to the body. However, I find the concept of adding MSG to any dishes to enhancing favor a bit degrading. It is cheating in my opinion.

    "Like I said, I consider adding pure ethanol to a bottle of wine as cheating to wine making, just like adding MSG to dishes as cheating to home cooking. Exactly same analogy -- one try to add pure ethanol, and the other try to add a synthetic form of an amino acid. "


    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      What I (maybe clumsily) meant by "that food isn't good", is that unhealthy food just doesn't taste good.

      Once a person is "weaned" from chemical and processed food, that food becomes less appealing and just doesn't taste as good.

      This is my experience.

      Thanks for your thoughtful response.

      1. re: sandylc

        you need to start climbing the learning curve about eating all over again.
        i was raised on "bland" food because my mother believed it was more healthful.
        now i eat curries all the time, italian soups, thai tofu wraps with peanut sauce, etc

        it's a matter of expanding your horizons.. . .

    2. i try to avoid labeling foods as "good" or "bad" or "healthy" or "unhealthy". obviously as someone with a history of severe anorexia nervosa, i have my own reasons for shunning such labels (and it took many, MANY hours of therapy to shed them). however, additionally, i like to adhere to the notion that food is morally neutral, and all things are ok in moderation. people can be good or bad, actions can be good or bad, but food, like a pencil, is morally neutral.

      the only thing i do stick to in terms of "not good/bad" is things that aren't food - for example, trans fats, or artificial sweeteners. since these aren't, strictly speaking, "food" in the natural sense, i try to avoid them whenever possible.

      ultimately, though, i try to steer myself in terms of 1) my dietitian-established guidelines for a varied diet inclusive of all necessary food groups (starches, proteins, fats, fruits, vegetables, and milks/calciums) and 2) what i like or enjoy.

      for me, this is a comfortable and non-judgmental way to steer my own eating. of course, everyone is different! if your system works for you, that's what matters - ultimately no two people eat exactly the same, and there are a lot of different (perfectly acceptable) ways to nourish your body and your health.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chartreauxx

        I found that to be a very healthy post.

        1. re: chartreauxx

          I 100% agree and try not to label food as good or bad or myself as good or bad based on what I ate. I often will comment when close relatives or good friends do this and highlight tat food should not be a character judgement.

        2. I don't think I have ever considered whether a food choice was healthy or not. And I hope I never do,

          I'm content being a short, fat, middle-aged man, instead of a short middle-aged man.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            Your body, your science experiment. But it's not all about weight. It's about keeping your mobility and wits til the end.

            Priorites: we each get to choose our own.

            1. re: mcf

              ^^This. It's about feeding yourself/your loved ones what those bodies need.

              Both H and I eat low carb---H, because he has to, and I because our household is small and it's more convenient---but also because I too need good protein and lots of veggies in my diet to do what I need to do. I could not live without caffeine; he can't have it because of an arrhythmia.

              The proof of a healthy diet is in the pudding (so to speak): if your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, etc, are good; if your intestines are happy; if your nails and skin and hair are happy; if you generally have enough energy to go about your business---you're probably doing the right thing.

          2. Avoid green meat and skinny people, you'll never go wrong.

            1. The problem is that "healthy" is a moving target. Red meat used to be "healthy." Same with eggs; they used to be good for you, then they were bad, then they were good in moderation. They're probably due to be bad pretty soon. Then there's coffee, which is good for diabetes, alzheimers, and parkinsons disease, but bad for elevated cholesterol and heart disease.

              Nutrition is a lot like life, you need to take the good with the bad. All I know is that on my deathbed, I'm not going to wish I'd eaten more salad.

              1. After working out in the morning, I look closely at what I put in to my pie whole. If I'm going to sweat and burn, I'm not going to screw it up till the week-end.

                1. I just eat what I enjoy and enjoy what I eat.

                  I'm a simpleton I guess.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I enjoy what I eat and I eat what I enjoy, too. I had to make a huge adjustment away from the way I used to eat, and because it's improved my health and wellness, I enjoy more than just food more.

                    Eating for health *and* enjoyment is not difficult.

                  2. I think the biggest thing is figuring out what's "healthy" for you. Over the past almost 2 years, I've transformed my eating habits. I lost nearly 60lbs in the process. For me, it's just using as much non-processed ingredients as I can, and limiting the junk. For others it might be low carb, or paleo, or whatever. I personally don't look at any food/drink etc as "bad". I have just learned that I will be more satisfied and stay fuller longer by eating non-processed whole foods, and that the junk will leave me hungry in 2 hours even though they have the same calorie counts. I do still have junk sometimes, and *gasp* have diet soda every day.

                    I think where the "healthy food is punishment" comes from the fad diets that are out there... people think that healthy food is boring with no flavor etc. This also comes from people not knowing how to cook. For example, SO's sister is on a fad diet program called Isagenix right now. It involves buying "cleanses" and only drinking shakes as meals and stuff like that. She is hating it. She's not learning how to actually be healthy, and thinks that being "on a diet" is punishment. If I lived closer I'd go over there and cook her and her family some meals that are "healthy" but still taste great. But, I don't blame her either. She just doesn't know and I'm not about to start lecturing her via Facebook (where she's posting about all of it). She was raised on unhealthy processed food, and so was her husband, and now her kids are too.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: juliejulez

                      I know one thing, the more I have to hear about how someone's limited diet is healthy for them, the less healthy it starts to sound to me.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Exactly. When I started changing my ways, I figured it would have to be something I was happy with doing for the rest of my life. Limiting my diet and cutting out certain things entirely was not something I would be happy with for forever.

                        1. re: juliejulez

                          I've increasingly limited my diet for over 15 years, with only benefits. It's much more nutrient dense than a diet with the stuff I don't eat regularly, and it keeps me off medications and has reversed pretty severe kidney and nerve damage from the diet I was eating before, while an undiagnosed diabetic.

                          There is no one size fits all, and there is no inherent unhealthiness in limiting foods that are high calorie low nutrient density with nothing you need that you can't get elsewhere.

                        2. re: MGZ

                          Everyone is different because our circumstances are different. I can eat anything. I mean anything at this moment in my life. However, my diet certainly will be different when I have diabetes or pre-diabetes

                          Oh here is an analogy. I am near-sighted. I wear glasses. It is healthy for me to wear my glasses, especially when I am driving. :)

                          This is not to say that everyone should wear a pair of near-sight glasses.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I think if you have an actual health need (like diabetes or gluten intolerance or whatever) that requires you to limit certain foods, then that's different. But some people have no health reasons whatsoever to eliminate things, they just do it because it's the "thing" to do.

                            1. re: juliejulez

                              <But some people have no health reasons whatsoever to eliminate things, they just do it because it's the "thing" to do.>

                              I see. That is a good point.

                              1. re: juliejulez

                                Unless you consider prevention of such things a health need. Still, the degree and types of adjustments will differ from person to person.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Well of course, eating "healthy" to prevent diabetes is a given. I personally try to watch my sodium because high blood pressure and strokes run in my family (dad died at 52 from it). But for example, take gluten-free. A lot of people are "gluten free" now because it's trendy and the "thing" to do to be "healthy" even if they aren't having any problems. The percentage of people who are gluten free for actual legitimate health reasons is probably pretty low.

                                  I also think people think gluten free (again just using this as an example, not to bash on gluten free) is a "cure all" for various ailments. My other half has Crohn's disease. The first thing they suggested to him was to go gluten free. It didn't change anything for him when he did.

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Yeah, a lot of people are on the gluten-free bandwagon these days. Some say it helps them lose weight - probably because they are seriously limiting the foods available to eat, so they are eating less as a result.

                                    One good thing about the popularity of this diet is that it has prompted more gluten-free foods to be produced for those who really truly need them.

                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      Good point about the whole GF bandwagon effect. Early in peri-menopause, I started suffering joint paint in my elbows and left hand. Though I tested negative for celiac disease, my then-doctor had me give up gluten for a month. The symptoms lessened, but did not entirely disappear, so we added dairy to the off-limits list. I was mainly symptom free for about a year, then the pain started again. I had in the meantime become a soy addict. We then eliminated the soy. After that, I did well. I do cheat from time to time, especially with goat products, which I can sometimes tolerate. At the same time as the original tests, they also found slightly elevated glucose numbers, which I brought way down by cutting out all sugar. The only time I use any sweetener is with cocoa or unsweetened chocolate. For a long time, I used a squirt or two of agave, maple syrup or honey until all the anti-agave articles came out. I tried stevia, but hated the weird taste. Fortunately, I've never been much of a sweet eater, so it hasn't been hard to follow that part, though I do miss baking I used to do for family and friends. Over the past couple years, if I strayed from my strict regimen, I found my feet and legs swelling.

                                      Last spring, I decided to try the Abascal Way, a strict anti-inflammatory program that eliminates all processed foods (not that I ate any). I grew up in a family of excellent cooks who seldom relied on anything from a can or box, so cooking everyday comes naturally. I'm blessed to live in an area with a strong local food movement, so we have fresh produce much of the year, despite living in New England. We can also get organic, grass fed protein straight from the farms, as well as sustainable seafood from a local specialty market. The program focuses upon proportionate eating, with veggies and some fruit making up 2/3 of the daily plan, and protein and grains taking up the other 1/3. Some starchier fruits and veg/grains must be eaten in proportion to other veg and protein. Abascal bans all sweeteners, including stevia. For treats, she uses whole fruits combined with other ingredients such as unsweetened chocolate or cocoa. Abascal also limits oils to olive, grapeseed and coconut, on the whole. That's just a thumbnail sketch Following the elimination phase, I lost 13 pounds and the swelling in my legs and feet disappeared after just ten days. Once one reaches one's goals, then Abascal allows for occasional treats, but I'm finding I'd rather avoid all the side effects of eating foods that clearly don't agree with me. It's really tough some days, but I'm finding it's just healthier all around to follow the elimination phase.

                                      That said, I completely concur there is no such thing as a universal way to eat, though I do think we can all benefit from avoiding processed foods and most sweeteners, especially the artificial ones.

                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                        ' juliejulez about 2 hours ago
                                        Well of course, eating "healthy" to prevent diabetes is a given"

                                        You say that as if it's not the majority of folks, by a wide margin, just a few diabetics?

                                        Estimates are that in the near future, over 50% of Americans will be diabetic.

                                        Then add in the overweight, clinically obese and insulin resistant and "pre diabetic" folks (who get the same complications as those already diagnosed) and you're talking about most folks living with high risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and related disorders and it's most of the population who stand to benefit from preventive interventions.

                                        An ounce of prevention, etc.

                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Yep. That's the point. You ain't preachin' that we all need them special glasses . . . .

                              2. I eat what I like, which does include a lot of meats and cheeses, and I always include a heavy side of fresh and often uncooked fruit and/or veg. I also like to use a lot of fresh herbs. I'm not really big on bread.
                                The only thing I try specifically to do is eat seafood often, especially in winter. It fights the grumps when the sun is low and the days get short.
                                I take a multivitamin, run 5 days a week, and make a very specific effort to stay well hydrated.
                                And that's it. I'm in very good health, but that could change as I grow older and I'll address it then. I know some people have to include lots of "x" or exclude any "y" in their diets, but it's not so for me. Knock on wood.

                                1. I have this feeling as well. I used to eat primarily processed foods and a lot of takeout until I fell in love with cooking. Now, I can't seem to get enough of learnig more and more about home cooking and absolutely love the 90% fresh ingredients that I use. I used to think "oh I'll have this because it's healthy" or "I won't have that because it's unhealthy" whatever my definition was at the time and now I often crave veggies and am rarely satisfied by the stereotypical unhealthy things, particularly take out. I always remind myself "hmm it seems to taste better at home." That's not to say that I never eat Cheetos or Popeye's but I really have figured out what of that kind of food I really enjoy and probably always will and what always just disappoints me. Now, I won't just eat a healthy food because it's healthy if I don't like it. A lot of people wonder how I can eat so "healthy" and not crave things but I love the food I eat or else I wouldn't' be eating it.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Well put. I used to eat a lot of fast food, and definitely still indulge now and again, but a meal you made with your own hands is so much more satisfying on many levels than chucking $10 out of your car window and getting a grease soaked bag in exchange.

                                    1. re: alliegator

                                      It usually seems to hit the spot much better. I realized this a few years ago that "oh wait I haven't had blank food in x long I should have that" only to realize that clearly I wasn't missing it. I'd take the trip to pick up whatever food and my usual reaction afterwards is "oh that was a waste, I wish I would have just cooked or reminded myself that Domino's might be tasty occasionally but usually I don't enjoy nearly as much as I used to. It's interesting actually, it's a holiday weekend which means SO and I usually eat a bit different than usual. It used to nonstop take out and what not, but now our eating different than usual is a gigantic bowl of stovetop popcorn for an unusual carby treat in our house or a bigger piece of salmon with a new infused oil we've been wanting to try.

                                  2. I have always been a shop-around-the-edges grocery shopper, not much into processed foods, and I think that's mainly because I'm too cheap (or frugal) to buy foods that I can make myself cheaper. The end result of that is 'cleaner' food with natural ingredients. I'm not a super health nut, but I do like knowing exactly what I'm putting in my mouth.
                                    That said, I still like fast food now and then, and never feel guilty about my choices. Portion control is my problem, not what the food is made of.

                                    1. I like to tell people it's a journey, not a contest. What I eat now is very different than what I ate 5 years ago, and it is a completely different world of food than what I ate 10 years ago. I expect that things will continue to change as I learn more and progress further on the journey.

                                      I find that the further I go down the road, the harder it is for me to exist in the "corporate America" version of food - the chain restaurants, fast food, mass produced crap, all of which I think could be symbolized by a big metal container of pump nacho cheese on top of some GMO corn chips, which sort of symbolizes everything that's wrong with food.

                                      We went to a waterpark for a couple of days recently, and brought our own food for breakfast and lunch. There was no way to reheat anything and just a tiny, dorm-sized fridge so there was only so much we could bring. We figured we would just suck it up and deal with the place's restaurant food for dinner for the two nights we were there. The food was so bad that I couldn't eat most of it, and what I did eat made me sick. It was "normal" food that most people wouldn't have any problem eating - chicken fingers and frozen fries and the like, but I couldn't do it the 2nd night, I managed to find a small Viet place tucked in amongst literally dozens of chains, and got some wonderfully fresh food to bring back to the room. I just can't do it anymore. If people are going to Applebee's, I will eat beforehand and just get a bottle of beer because I can't eat taht stuff anymore. It's gone beyond "healthy" or unhealthy, it makes me sick to eat it.

                                      I'm glad to be where I am on the journey. I like to bring others along who are interested and open to it, and I learn from yet others who are farther down the path than I am.