Eating real food matters

About Lisa Schmidt

Lisa Schmidt is an expert in the sciences of nutrition and behavioral health change. As a nutritional therapist, she specializes in weight loss, healthy weight promotion, and disordered eating. Other therapeutic specializations include grief, loss, anxiety, depression and couples counseling. She is on the faculty of Arizona State University's School of Social Work, teaching courses on Mindful Eating, Sustainability, and Stress Management.

Springtime has come to the desert!  As I travel around the Sonoran Desert Preserve, I see the signs of spring everywhere.  Even in the barren desert, spring brings life and new beginnings to my surroundings.  I am reminded of the restorative power of nature, and the ways that all living things go through periods of dormancy, and new life.  It’s never too late to create the life you want – look to the desert for inspiration!

The Desert is Blooming!

The Desert is Blooming!

Have you thought about the impact that eating and drinking “non foods” has on your body?  Have you thought about the difference between real food and food like substances?  It can be helpful as you work towards a fuller relationship with food and your body to think about how real food impacts your life, and how non foods interfere with your body’s natural workings.

There are three types of food like substances – processed, junk, and fake foods.  Processed food is made from real food that has been put through chemical processes and is filled with chemicals and preservatives.  Some examples of processed food include beef jerky, canned tea, jam, hot dogs, and low or non fat yogurt with sugar or sucralose.

Junk foods have very little food in them.  Instead, they are made of highly processed processed foods, hydrogenated fats, chemicals and preservatives, and include anything made with “refined white flour.”  Some examples are canned breakfast drinks, sugary cold cereals, donuts, drive-through fast foods, and soda (like Coke or Pepsi).  Fake foods are made primarily of chemicals, and usually contain gums and sugar as fillers.  Examples are bacon bits, bottled salad dressing, dehydrated soups, and instant coffee.

All of these foods have one thing in common – it is harder for our bodies to digest, absorb, and eliminate them than the nutritional value they offer our bodies in return.  This poor exchange of calories for nutritional value is like a bad investment offering limited return.  This leaves our bodies feeling sluggish and deprived.

Thinking back to our ancestral roots, we know that the ability to preserve food was done naturally using salt, fermentation and sun drying.  These simple practices were sustainable and safe for humans.  As food preservation has become more and more complex and secretive, food companies now use nearly six thousand additives and chemicals.  Researchers now believe many of these additives can have a devastating impact on our health.

Like most things, there are two sides to additives and preservatives which are not always negative.  Adding vitamins to bread and milk in the early 1900’s helped end diseases of nutritional deficiency like pellagra and rickets.  When micronutrients were first added to foods, intentions were good and lives were saved.  Now it seems that ways to cheaply process food and manipulate buyers has replaced the higher goals of better health for Americans.  Many additives and preservatives are harmful toxic chemicals.  It is not yet understood how harmful these chemicals are.  Difficulties exist when studying the impact of additives and preservatives on the human body.  Needless to say, eating fake food takes us as a species so far away from our historical roots the impact could be far worse than ever imagined in the worst-case scenario.

Why gamble with your health?  Fresh, gorgeous, healthful food is widely available.  Don’t get caught up with the false argument that you can’t afford fresh organic food.  This thought is your mind playing a trick on you.  The cost of poor health is astronomical, and often can’t be repaired.  Shift your focus to real fresh foods – and don’t look back.  There is no substitute for what you put inside your body, and you are worth the investment!

Never settle for fake foods.  You are worth the real thing!

Never settle for fake foods. You are worth the real thing!


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