K.I.S.S.- Keep It Stupid Simple
I really hope some of you catch The Office reference in the title of this post. I actually had to change the acronym from Keep It Simple, Stupid to Keep it Stupid Simple because I don’t want to call anyone stupid, but you get 1,000 Schrute bucks if you are familiar with the phrase from my favorite show of all time. If you aren’t, well then I’m just sorely disappointed in your choice of television programming.
This post is brought to you as a result of the current book I am reading- “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell. I will do my best to give you an extremely abbreviated summary of the book. Dr. Campbell explains how our current medical/nutritional/pharmaceutical systems are based on reductionist thinking and research. What is reductionism? According to the book, “If you are a reductionist, you believe that everything in the world can be understood if you understand all its component parts. A wholist, on the other hand, believes that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.” He obviously goes into way more depth on numerous topics to explain his reasoning, but it is a fantastic book if you are at all interested in nutrition and how our country has come to be so unhealthy, even though we spend massive amounts of dollars pursuing better “health care”.
In terms of nutrition, you can see reductionist beliefs everywhere. Scientists LOOOVE to break down whole foods and figure out why these foods may be good or bad. We have all seen catchy headlines spouting something like, “Eggs are good because they have ‘x’”, or “Eggs are bad because they have ‘y’”. “Eat oranges for Vitamin C!” or “Eat greens because they have Vitamin K!”, etc. etc. Another fantastic example is how we often talk about food as “carbs”, “protein”, or “fat”. The nutrition world is obsessed with these breakdowns. How many grams of each should we have each day? Is there a perfect amount? We don’t ask ourselves what kinds of whole foods should we be eating, but whether we should be consuming more protein, less carbs, more fat, less calories, more calories. Diet crazes are created around manipulating these factors. Atkins Diet, anyone?
While it is often helpful to dive into a whole component and figure out how all the parts work, it has caused confusion, confliction, and has caused one of the most broken “health care” systems in the world when it comes to nutrition. With as much research and money the U.S. has spent on food research, you would think that the obesity epidemic would be non-existent. Just looking around anywhere in public will show you that we are indeed in the middle of a health crisis. Here is where I implore Americans to “K.I.S.S.- Keep It Stupid Simple”! We have made the simple concept of what to eat in a day into a confusing clusterf*ck of contradictory information. The author Michael Pollan breaks it down the best, “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
I will highlight a particular aftermath of reductionist thinking. I might scream if I hear another person say “carbs are bad.” Look at the whole food. Donuts, white bread and bagels, Doritos, Twinkies, refined/bleached white flour pastas, most crackers, etc. are not bad for you and contributing to your weight gain because they contain carbs. They are bad for you and contributing to your weight gain because they are nutritionally deficient and chemically enhanced. They are empty calories your body doesn’t know how to utilize because it is barely food. A scientist in a factory slapped a bunch of additives, white flour, and salt and mixed that with flavor enhancers that will make your taste buds light up like a Vegas casino together and put it in a box. You are not getting fat from eating too much quinoa, brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes, beans, or whole and sprouted grains, I can assure you.
Proteins are also often grossly processed and chemically enhanced to make them taste better. If you would like more of my thoughts on protein, check out an article I did for MindBodyGreen here.
The big takeaway is that we can’t contribute the health or non-health of a food due to one component. When you eat something, your body has a gazillion (scientific term) processes that it goes through from chewing, to digestion, to enzymes that break down the food, to all the chemical mechanisms that are used to extract nutrients and amounts needed of those nutrients to carry in an out of cells. It is literally mind boggling. So here’s how you can quit worrying about over complicating things and the individual breakdowns and calories of every food and K.I.S.S.:
1.) Eat whole, minimally processed foods that were grown from the Earth. This means whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. My addition to that statement would be to be mindful of the amount of processed oils you are consuming as well. This includes olive and coconut oil. Use less than you think you need.
2.) Eat the rainbow- look at your plate. What colors are there? A colorful plate is nutrient dense and will give you all of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients you need for optimum health. Example dinner: brown rice with red, green, and orange peppers, sautéed kale, salsa and avocado. Or breakfast: bowl of blueberries, strawberries and rasberries with sprouted grain toast and almond butter. These meals give you a variety of colors, which means you are getting a variety of nutrients.
3.) If you decide to consume animal products, consider your consumption an occasional treat, and purchase it from the highest quality source possible. i.e. from local farms near your area. The website localharvest.org will give you a list of farms and farmer’s markets near you. I would be hardcore about this. If you don’t have a good source, don’t eat animal products. This includes restaurants! This will limit your intake and protect you from a myriad of health consequences from eating too much meat, dairy and eggs.
That’s pretty much it. I promise, your body will be stoked! If you would like recipe ideas, you gotta follow me on Pinterest! Need help getting started on your food journey? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set you up with a free consultation!
Now, get ready to K.I.S.S. calorie counting and stressing about what to eat goodbye!