How to Know What to Eat

I have been thinking a lot about food lately. Just ask my kids. From reading everything I can get my hands on to forcing my family to try out a vegan diet for a month, there doesn’t seem much left to investigate or learn. Yet after all my efforts consulting the “experts”, no clear understanding or conclusions could be deciphered.

Our modern understanding of food and its link to health and well-being has never been more complicated and complex. Knowing what to eat, how to eat it, and why has grown to nothing less than a national obsession among those of us who really care about proper nutrition and properly feeding our families.

Yet there is a way to escape the maze and confusion surrounding questions of diet and food– and its relation to our health and well-being– that can restore our sense of peace and sanity where it concerns eating. After all, isn’t it crazy how complicated one of the three most basic of human functions, namely eating, has become?

In order to know what to eat, we can follow some very simple–and I would contend to be self-evident–guidelines. There truly is little need to engage in the endless, frequently contradictory debates surrounding nutritional ingredients and dietary preferences. It is not about whether veganism, raw food eating, high fat-low carb, etc. is the proven best. It is about you, your own body, and your relationship to food.

So here I go. Aim to achieve the following in how you eat:

  • Eat fresh whole foods, preferably organic and 100% pastured (if animal sourced)
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables
  • Eat more in season and locally grown
  • Eat foods that make you feel good after you have consumed them
  • Eat moderately and not while engaged in other activities
  • Eat with others
  • Prepare your foods when possible
  • Avoid packaged, processed, refined, artificial, or in any way engineered food
  • Avoid highly refined carbohydrates in any form, especially white flour and polished grains, raw sugars, high fructose corn syrup, or any imitation foods.
  • Avoid foods that don’t spoil if left on the shelf very long
  • Finally, stop listening to the experts and trust in what appeals and tastes good to you, so long as it doesn’t violate the principles elaborated above.
  • Know that eating quality food is healthy for you, as long as you feel good after eating it.

As in most areas of life, returning to simplicity bears abundant fruit. In the nutritional world, the “scientists” and the “medical experts” have coaxed us into believing that we need them to show us what is true and good. We have voluntarily relinquished our own personal connection to the inborn wisdom we all possess, a wisdom that is sufficient to navigate most of life’s activities. Natural instinct and common sense, still reliable and valuable faculties to guide us in our activities and life choices, have often been silenced as we turn our attention to those who we perceive to be in “the know.”

So for one month, try to forget about conventional wisdom and the latest food fads of today. Select quality, real, and whole foods as your staple diet, in varieties and composition that appeal to you. When you eat them, focus on enjoying them, not on their specific function. Eat with awareness and gratitude, and be honest about how you feel from the food you eat.

The earth provides an abundance of life sustaining, nourishing foods. Many dietary styles have all been shown to foster good health and longevity. So relax. You don’t have to be a genius to learn how to eat. You just have to return to simplicity, eat the things that are provided in natural ways from our amazing planet, and trust that our senses from vision, to smell and taste, and how our bodies feel before, during and after eating are reliable guides to what will sustain us in good health and well being. Let the guidelines written above simply serve to focus you back and point out the direction to what you already know inside.

Bon Appetit!