Seems simple enough, right?
If you read the news, books, or blogs, however, this might be slightly more challenging than put food in mouth and chew.
Eggs…are those good or bad for you now? Should I still be drinking milk? Is whole fat better or skim? What about meat? Is mad cow disease still a thing? And now fruit is dangerous too, right, covered in listeria? Isn’t that on shellfish sometimes? And caffeine…is it okay in moderation or should I be cutting it out completely? Folks, this is The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
I have some (or all) of these thoughts running through my head every time I hit meal time (like right now, for instance). I feel as though I’m simultaneously over-informed and under-educated. All I want is the right answer! After several near-paralyzing visits to the grocery store, including one where I stood in the milk section for, not exaggerating, 10 full minutes debating which kind of milk to get, I decided I needed a list of helpful eating (and shopping) hints.
So without getting too specific (this list is good for omnivores and vegans alike!), here are the guidelines that I now try to use when choosing what I eat.
- Know What You Need – Above all else, you should be listening to you your body and responding based on need, not want. If you spend all day sitting in front of the computer and don’t get any physical activity, maybe 3 slices of pizza isn’t the lunch you want to grab. On the flip side, if you run five miles in the morning, don’t try to skate by on a piece of toast until supper time.
- Know What You’re Eating – Remember, whatever goes into an animal’s body (or into the soil for fruits and veggies) goes into your body. So even though organic, grass-fed, and free-range might be a little more expensive, it’s better for you, better for the animal, and better for the planet. And if you’re worried about that bottom line on the grocery bill, consider adding a no-meat, all plant-based meal once or twice a week. If you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, eating vegetarian or vegan is CHEAP!
- Know How You’re Eating – Are you eating mindlessly in front of your computer while you work, or in front of the TV? Are you standing up while eating, trying to wolf something down as quickly as you can? Are you sad or angry or irritated while you’re eating? Are you eating a cheeseburger while you’re driving? All of these things can lead to making poor food choices, even if you’re really trying to eat healthy.
- Pay Attention to How Food Makes You Feel – I’ve been keeping a food journal, so that if I get an upset stomach or just feel kind of gross, I can look over my food log and say, “Oh, I haven’t eaten dairy in two days, and after I ate it today, I felt sick. Maybe I should consider cutting that out of my diet.” I feel like there are a lot of people who just give up and suffer minor intestinal issues instead of working on discovering the source.
- Try Not to Get Overwhelmed – Like I said, with all the information out there, I’m sure you can find a study that says one food is both good and terrible for you. Try not to let it get you down…if there was a perfect diet out there that worked for everyone, we’d know about it. But if you follow those first four steps, I think you’ll definitely be on the right track to finding your perfect diet.
(And when I say “diet”, I just mean “general way of eating”, not “eating less to get skinny”.)
So what are you eating today? (I had sunflower and pumpkin seed granola for breakfast, a pot of peppermint tea, and I’m thinking about a giant smoothie for lunch.)
*Photo credit to Ambro from freedigitalphotos.net.*