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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

#JERF: Just Eat Real Food

The worst 4 letter word ever: DIET. But, it doesn't have to be. We've turned the word "diet" into something that is hard and needs to accomplish some (probably) unattainable goal. It's a 30 day challenge or a change that you need to do for 3 months. Then what? In reality, your diet is simply what you choose to eat. And what you eat IS a CHOICE. Today and always. Unless you are a child who is unable to make his or her own decisions, what you eat (your diet) is always up to you. No one put a piece of cake in your mouth without your permission. What you eat is going to be a choice you make multiple times per day for the rest of your life. We've made this seem like a super complicated thing to do, but it doesn't have to be. Just eat real food more often than you don't. It's really that simple. Here are a few food rules that will help turn the 4 letter word, diet, into a (more) simple part of your life.

1. Your "diet" will never be perfect. Ditch the perfect. Nothing is perfect. And if it was, it would be boring. Work toward progress. Make the best decision you can with whatever knowledge you currently have. You eat an average of 3 meals per day. That results in 21 meals per week and 84 meals per month. If you eat real food, most of the time, you will be doing much better than most and probably better than what you have done in the past.

2. Real food is food in it's own whole form. You might have to cook it in some capacity to eat it. This includes meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, cheese and quality fats. Avoid highly processed foods, foods that have more than 5 ingredients or ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Make more meals at home using whole ingredients. Turn the grocery store into your fast food choice. You can easily grab nuts and seeds, fruit, cut veggies, deli meat, cheese or pre made salads.

3. Pay attention to how you feel. Everyone responds to foods differently. Check in with yourself or keep a food log and make note of how you feel, how much energy you have, if you can think clearly. The diet that works for your friend may not work for you. The diet that worked for you last year, may not work for you today. That's okay. Life is always moving, changing and progressing and your choices should reflect that, too.

4. Your body doesn't care about calories; it cares about nutrients. Your body will respond EXTREMELY different to 500 calories of cake than it will to 500 calories of steak. Your body will continue to be hungry if you are not giving it the nutrients it needs. Your body doesn't care how many calories you are consuming. Our calorie intake will vary dramatically based on your sleep patterns, your physical output, your age and gender. Become a nutrient seeker rather than a calorie counter.

5. Your diet directly affects your hormones. Your hormones control everything. You become what you eat. Are you feeding disease or fighting it? Your first meal of the day is very important. When you eat your first meal, you more than likely just completed your longest fast of the day. If you eat sugar (cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, smoothies, pancakes, french toast, bagels, donuts, etc) you are instantly shooting your insulin levels up resulting in a crash in a few hours and instability throughout the day. If you choose to eat quality meat, fat and vegetables, you are barely increasing your insulin levels and it can't crash. You will feel full for longer and your mood will stay stable. And don't skimp here. Eat as much as you are comfortable with. Many of us are extremely hungry at the end of the day because we haven't eaten enough throughout the day and our bodies need more nutrients.

We've made diet into something much more complicated than it has to be. Keep is simple. Just eat real food. For the majority of us, this will solve most of our problems. Do you have more specific questions? Feel free to email me if you want to set up a nutrition assessment or join my upcoming seminar, Before You Take Another Bite.

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