Food is the building block of our life; we need food and water to survive. Unfortunately the food consumed as part of the standard American diet is highly processed and not nutritious. Despite all of the junk food and processed food out there we can find healthy, unprocessed food to eat. Food can be delicious, nutritious and enjoyable to eat. Experimenting with new recipes is a great way to add healthier food to your diet.
Processed versus whole foods
Whole foods are foods that have just one or two ingredients on the label. They are foods that still have the bran/grain intact and have not been processed, fried or changed in form. Whole foods can include vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains (oatmeal, quinoa, barley, millet), and proteins such as beans and chicken. When a label contains a list of more than five ingredients then it is a very processed food.
Processed foods tend to have their nutrients (vitamin & minerals) removed through processing, so we don’t get the benefits of eating these foods, just the empty calories. They also tend to be loaded with added sugar or fats which provide more calories.
Organic versus non-organic
The majority of food is grown with the use of pesticides which are absorbed by the food and then we in turn absorb these pesticides, which are chemicals. Although the food companies say that the levels of pesticides absorbed is safe, research shows that many people have very high levels of toxins in their bloodstream. These toxins have been linked to ADHD and breast cancer. For more information on the produce that contain the most and least pesticides check out the Environmental Working Group’s List: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
We also need to be aware of the animal products that we eat as these can contain hormones and antibiotics that have been given to the animals to fatten them up and keep them disease free. When we eat chicken or steak we may be consuming hormones that our body does not need. Over the past five years we have seen a higher incidence of children who are resistant to antibiotics which some scientists attribute to antibiotics being consumed in animal products.
Delicious, nutritious and enjoyable to eat
Whole foods are delicious and some of them are naturally sweet. Start exploring with fruit which may satisfy a sweet tooth craving. Try fruits like Carambola (starfruit) or papaya, which is supportive of digestion. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and can be eaten raw or lightly sautéed or steamed. To add flavor include garlic, onions, scallions, basil, rosemary and any other spice in the spice rack.
Healthy Food Resources
A great source of organic local food is community supported agriculture or CSA. CSAs support local farmers and provide for weekly pick-up of fruits & vegetables. In Ft. Lauderdale there is Marando Farms CSA, Fort Lauderdale Vegetables CSA and several others. Here is a good website for information on CSAs in south Florida.