Fueling Your Body: The Basics

Sometimes it’s really important to just go back to the basics. There is so munch misinformation out there about food, and what is “good” or “bad”; every week there is a new fad, trend, diet, or body-based “breakthrough”. I love providing you guys with recipes, nutritional info, and more, but I realized that I also wanted (and needed) to just discuss the basics about food and why fueling the body with quality nutrition is so necessary.

While being physically fit and active is great, being conscious of what we put IN our bodies is just as if not more important than what we do with them physically. It continually baffles my mind to see people go to the gym and put so much effort into being “healthy” only to turn around after a great workout and down a Snickers and a Redbull. Do you see the divergence? Do you see why this makes no sense? If we want our bodies and minds to be as healthy and functional as possible, it does not make sense to only treat part of the body. Aesthetics are great, but your body will function according to what you are or are not fueling it with, and a body will always run better on whole, organic, natural foods.

So, here are the basics. Stop with the over processed, chemically-laced products being passed off as “food”. Start cooking more, avoid pre-made meals saturated in sodium and preservatives. The general rule of thumb is the fresher and fewer the ingredients in what you eat the better, but if you are going to eat pre-packaged food then always read the label, evaluate the ingredients. How many are there? For example, a ‘Peanut Butter Cookie’ Larabar has only three ingredients, peanuts, dates, and sea salt. No preservatives, no questionable chemicals. Larabars are a great example of a pre-packaged food that is still healthy and whole. There are tons of plant-based natural meal replacements and packages items out there, you just have to seek them out and really evaluate their ingredients.

Another rule to live by: can you pronounce all of the ingredients in your food? Do you know what they are? Sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate, aspartame…do any of those sound like they grow from the earth? Didn’t think so. Chemicals like these have no place in the human body. Start reading about all of the additives in your foods and I promise your views on what you put in your body will change dramatically. Always be wary of items that are marketed as “healthy”. Trail mix is a fabulous example of a food that is marketed as being healthy but often is anything but. The majority of trail mixes do not use raw nuts, instead they opt for oil-roasted (essentially deep fried) nuts and dried fruit kept “juicy” with potassium sorbate. If you have paid attention to the last paragraph, then your brain should be going “HOLD UP-my dried fruit contains WHAT?”. Tons of dried fruit is saturated with potassium sorbate, a chemical that acts as a preservative to prolong shelf life and discourage mold growth.  Interestingly enough, potassium sorbate can also cause a condition called “contact urticaria”, a physical reaction to consuming potassium sorbate-laden foods that causes a burning or itching rash, and localized red swelling especially on the hands. Gross, right? There are plenty of dried fruit options out there that are sorbate-free, so always check the packaging and labels before you buy! It all comes down to being conscious and aware. Making changes in your food consumption doesn’t have to happen overnight, either. Just being conscious is a huge step in the right direction. I always suggest making small changes in the beginning so that you don’t get burned out. Start by incorporating at least one home-cooked meal every day or two, then increase the frequency. Start purchasing more veggies, fruit, perishable items that can’t last for months in your cupboards. Avoid the unrefrigerated aisles. Start visiting farmer’s markets for organic and locally farmed produce, familiarize yourself with what is grown in each season so that you can eat seasonally as well. Avoid meats, eggs, and milk from animals that are treated with antibiotics or hormones. The more aware you are, the better. And the better that you treat your body, the better you will feel, guaranteed. Stay tuned for more food basics-I definitely want to make it a habit of educating and opening up discussions about food on a weekly basis. The more you know, the more you know!