Did you know that your chemically-concocted, boxed frozen delicacy that says it’s healthy is setting you up for sabotage?
What the heck is a whole food anyway? Isn’t it just a grocery store chain?
The terms whole foods and clean eating are buzzwords that are becoming diluted in the same way that Paleo somehow can mean energy bars (did they make those back then?). The definitions are blurry and vary from person-to-person, company-to-company. Instead of worrying if you are eating ‘clean’ (because really, who wants dirty food? #HygieneIsImportant), think about buying and eating food in its natural state. If it comes in a box, semi-cooked, with sauces already over it, it wouldn’t be considered a whole food. It’s more likely a chemical concoction and has been subtly or not so subtly processed to make it easier to digest.
What’s the problem with easier to digest?
We eat more of it.
Food scientists know that if food is already broken down, we’ll consume more. They often contain high levels of sodium, sugar, and additives that increase flavor. A study by Barr and Wright in 2010 found that energy expenditure after eating processed foods compared to whole foods decreased calorie burn by 47%.
Eating processed foods, DROPPED your calories burned by 47%!
If you want to gain weight or put on pounds, it’s simple. Eat more highly-processed foods. Even with the number of calories, you will gain more weight eating 100 calories of a french fry than 100 calories of a baked potato. You’ll gain more weight with 100 calories of white bread than 100 calories of millet or quinoa. You’ll definitely eat more applesauce than you would apples because it’s been broken down and more comfortable to slurp.
Calories in are not calories out. A calorie is a measurable unit of energy, but it’s not processed or used the same in our bodies. I had an engineer a few months ago arguing with me a little that weight loss was simple. Calories in = calories out. He wasn’t open to hearing about how foods are digested. Fiber requires more work, therefore, less easily-absorbed. More passes through our body without sticking around (on our hips and butt). Processed food also doesn’t feed our gut microbiomes the same as unprocessed. The microbiome of an individual is now hot research because of the link of good gut bacteria to a healthy weight and lack of some bacteria linked to obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and mental illness.
Raw starches are digested less through our small intestine. We may only get about two-thirds of the total calories. Even a starch that has been cooked and cooled has less digestible enzymes, i.e., resistant starch, so your body will not process as many calories as if it is hot right out of the pot.
If our guts don’t have to work hard, we’ll eat more food. That’s why you can down a bag of Cheetos and still want to get your orange fingers on something substantial.
Much like a child should know what a real chicken leg looks like, and that they don’t have fingers or planks, we should know what vegetables look like before they’ve been cooked, mashed or beaten to a pulp. I grew up in a house where plants barely existed and didn’t know what most veggies looked like in their natural state (I still can’t tell the difference between a rutabaga and a turnip when I buy them at the same time). When my nieces come to visit, I’ll be taking them to the Farmer’s Market to see all the foods out on tables, before we’ve put our hands on them to eat.
Green beans and Brussels sprouts are actually crunchy, not mushy.
Potatoes and carrots come in different colors – orange, purple, white and red.
Peppers taste and look different depending on when they were picked.
But who has time to wash, chop, and prep? Start small. Frozen veggies and fruits are often just as good as fresh. Sometimes even better, because they are frozen at their peak of ripeness. As long as they aren’t sugared or syruped to death or tossed in some kind of fake cheese-food sauce, they can work.
Buy fruits and veggies already chopped up on the salad bar or at the grocery. Yes, it’s more expensive, but so is medicine, buying new, bigger pants, and doctor bills.
Try one switch in the next 30 days. Those six crackers that come in plastic, that you grabbed from a box, that came in another box, and still probably a bigger box, could be substituted with something that you could have picked, pulled or peeled off of a tree, vine, or root.
I started with one small change at a time.
What food do you commit to changing from a processed to an unprocessed state?
What's this eating clean thing all about? We all have certain goals at work. Maybe you want to knock a presentation out of the park. Or perhaps you want to score a big new client. Or you might just want to get through the day and feel better about work—mentally, physically, emotionally.
There aren't any healthy options.
The company is paying for it.
It's a tough life on the road. I deserve this.
Are you “pound packing”?
Extended Stay America released results of a survey of 2000 of their frequent travelers. Eighty-six percent (86%!!) gained an average of three pounds when away from home for two or more weeks. If you are a frequent business traveler, that adds up fast. When I first started my job as a Clinical Research Associate, I called it the Travel 20. Similar to the Freshman 15, but we have something different to blame it on.
Here are five things to be aware of that can make you pack more than clothes.
- Limited access to healthy options. I'm not going to pretend for one minute that eating on the road is a breeze. It requires purpose and planning. Eating in airports is a crapshoot. Only 76% of the busiest airports even offer one low-fat, high-fiber, low cholesterol vegetarian entree with vegetables, fruit, whole grains or legumes (Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine). When we eat near an airport or hotel, often it's one of a handful of same restaurants with different names – Ruby Tuesday's, Applebees, and Chili's. Restaurants are getting better and the requirements to report nutrition information is helpful, but it's still not easy to find ingredient lists. Who in that restaurant is determining that the meal is healthy enough to put an icon next to it? Someone that doesn't realize that soybean oil isn't a health food and that there is barely one serving of vegetables in the entire entree?
- Fast Food. In airports, there isn't much of an option, which is why I try to bring my own food or stop at a grocery store on the way (yes, they still exist, even when you travel!)
- I'll have what she's having. You eat what your spouse fixes you. I get it. Your spouse doesn't like vegetables. That doesn't mean that you can't prep some veggies on Sunday and throw on top of whatever is served. My husband makes grits on Sundays. I throw sauteed onions, spinach or whatever else I have prepped on Sunday on top. Voila. Vegetables added, and he didn't have to do anything.
- No time for grocery shopping. A gynecologist or grocery is pretty much a toss-up for me in the fun category. However, I make 75% of my meals, and most of them are from scratch. How do I handle my anti-love for the supermarket?
- Amazon Subscribe and Save – I've turned several clients onto this beauty. I get all of my paper goods and a LOT of my dry goods here. I save at least 15% off the already low Amazon price, it comes to my door on a schedule I choose, and I can easily change it if needed. My next order consists of cayenne pepper, single-serve bags of almonds for Hangry snacks, Wild sockeye canned salmon, miracle shirataki noodles, Julia's organic grits, Kleenex, hemp hearts, toilet paper, Jyoti canned dal, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, tahini, pre-cooked individual servings of quinoa (great for mobile work and lunch-packing), coffee and supplements. Whew! It also saves me from buying unnecessary stuff that I always found ended up in my cart. I love it so much, I'm shocked when people don't use it once they know about it!
- Community Supported Agriculture – I use Papa Spuds, local to Raleigh-Durham. I consider them one of the best because I have full control over what comes in my box, delivered to my door every Wednesday. I can choose from a variety of fruits and veggies but can also get chicken, beef, fish, pork, eggs, cheese, milk, mushrooms, coffee, chocolate, honey, and condiments. There are even pasta, bread and pizza crust options.
- What's left? Frozen and refrigerated foods like fruit, yogurt, kefir, and my beloved rice flour tortilla shells. I order these online and pick up during a designated time or use Instacart and have them delivered to my door. Most stores now have this amenity.
- I don't know what's healthy. There's too much conflicting information?!?!?!? Set aside time 1-2 days a week. I choose Sundays to turn on a timer and do as much food prepping, cooking, steaming and baking as I can. There are also assistants that you can hire to do this for you! Yes, it's true! I have an angel that comes in on Thursday and chops all my veggies from my CSA box. There are now even meal-prep services that make meals at your home, like FoodFairy.com or deliver food to your door, like myfoodprepper.com.
Are you willing to try any of these methods to improve your nutrition and avoid pound packing?
Do you want to shrink your inbox?
Do you desire to be in charge of your agenda and work in your line of genius?
Do you understand that your health behaviors affect your performance and work and home?
Let's Work Well and Play More!®