The desire or commitment to eat better is the first step to living a healthier lifestyle, but without really knowing what to eat can cause struggle on the journey. The simplest rule is to focus on God-made food over man-made food.
The easiest clue that a food is man-made would be that it is in a package. The simple step of shopping for food that is not in a package is something we should teach our kids. The easiest way to find fresh foods is to shop the perimeter of your grocery store.
Just as your parents love you and told you to eat your vegetables, your Heavenly Father loves you and designed foods to promote health. Sadly, many of the foods that are manufactured today are actually leading to poor health and excess weight gain
Purdue University has reported some shocking statistics on diet-related diseases. For instance, 40%-50% of American's are at risk of developing high blood pressure, also called hypertension. If hypertension is untreated, it could lead to stroke, kidney failure, heart attack, or heart failure. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death and are mostly caused by poor diet leading to fatty deposits on the arteries. Fatty deposits narrow pathways and lead to heart attacks.
“We weren't meant to die in such numbers from heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and from cancer of the lungs, breast, prostate, and colon. Significant heart disease only began to emerge in America after World War I. It escalated and became rampant after World War II, when people could afford diets rich in animal products and when the food industry began producing highly processed foods crammed with calories and emptied of nutrition.”
For the full article on diet and heart disease click here.
Many diseases can be avoided if we stick to the wholesome food that God provided for us to eat. It just takes knowing what to eat and a determination to stick to those foods.
Many man-made foods can be disguised as healthy options. Be leery of claims that these foods are healthy:
- Fruit Juice- Fruit is healthy so it’s easy to believe that fruit juice is too. It’s important to know the truth about juice. First, some juices don't even contain fruit. Instead they are chemically flavored to taste like fruit and sweetened with table sugar. Even juicing a whole fruit removes its fiber, leaving only the fruit's sugar. It’s always better to eat the whole fruit rather than drink the juice.
- Artificial Sugars- Marketed as a healthy alternative, artificial sugars are just chemicals that confuse the body. They are so unhealthy that many countries ban them. There has even been research to show that they contribute to weight gain, not loss. See this article on the subject.
- Sports Drinks- These drinks are made with electrolytes (salts) and sugar designed to replenish these during extreme exercise. Most people do not need extra salt and sugar. Water is the best choice when trying to hydrate.
- Processed Meats- The word processed should throw up a big red flag. These meats are often in a package and are not healthy. The Guardian states, “The World Health Organization has warned that processed meat products are now in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic, and tobacco after the UN health body classified them as group 1 carcinogens.” Check out this site to read about the link between red and processed meats and mortality.
- Processed Foods Labeled Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Fat-free, or High Protein- Don't let labels deceive you. Junk food is junk food regardless if it disguised with healthy sounding terminology. For example, if a food is manufactured in a way to be fat free, it often has added sugar to restore its appealing taste.
So what should you eat?
Start in the produce department, the majority of your God given nutrition should be purchased here.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” - Genesis 1:29
From there stay along the perimeter looking for natural food. These are foods that don't need a nutritional list. An apple is an apple. For additional nutrition guidance, check out this section of our Wellness Library.