Today I came home from work hungry. I needed to throw in a load of laundry so I did that, then I ate 3 squares of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree chocolate. You think you love chocolate, until you eat it when you are actually hungry. Then you realize you’ve been doing it wrong all along- chocolate when you are hungry is like chocolate X 100. That’s how eating when you’re hungry really works. It doesn’t take long to realize that everything tastes better when your body is signalling you to eat. It’s like magic!
After I put my laundry in the dryer, I made the salad pictured above. I’m still contemplating what else I’m going to eat this evening. Maybe scrambled eggs. Maybe frozen pizza (this brand, if you’re curious). Maybe a steamed artichoke with lemon butter. It depends on what I feel like later. I may be more or less hungry. One thing may appeal more than the other. If I eat the pizza, I may only eat half of it. Or maybe I will eat it all. I will stop eating it when I am full.
When I eat salad, it’s usually one of several smaller meals or part of a larger plan. I can make a salad that is dense enough to stand alone, and I do that sometimes. Adding beans or tofu or nuts or seeds or some combination therein can make a salad quite hearty.
I asked my Facebook page what eating Real Food meant to them and got a variety of answers. One thing that popped up a few times was the idea of only eating vegetables and fruits. This is a question I’ve heard a lot lately in various places: How can you be full eating only salad or only vegetables?
So I wanted to address this idea of eating only produce. I know that there are people who subsist only on fruits and vegetables, but I am not one of them! I definitely need more. If I were to eat only vegetables, I would have to eat so many of them, I would constantly be eating. That does not seem practical to me, personally.
“Real Food” or whole foods (not the store, the concept) means different things to different people, but to me it most certainly does not mean only produce. I consider these foods to be real food:
- beans & legumes
- nuts & seeds
And anything you can make from a combination of those items. If you think about it, that’s a lot of different food.
I don’t believe it is necessary to eat every item on that list. This is where the individual preference comes in. Personally, I don’t eat meat but I eat everything else. My main reasons for not eating meat are: I don’t really like it, I don’t like cooking with it (it gives me the heebie jeebies), I just don’t want to. IF I were to eat meat, I would prefer to eat non-factory farmed meat, which is quite expensive. I’d prefer to have the money for more awesome produce!
Others may forgo all animal products. Some do not like to eat grains. It’s all good. If you’re eating food off this list, especially if you’re cooking it yourself, I think you’re doing great!
This is not to say that I believe all processed foods are evil or will kill you or any such thing. You may note that two of the food products I listed above are not 100% “clean”. I eat chocolate and pizza. And salad.
I eat a lot of salad, especially in the summer. Salad is really all about wonderful fresh produce, which is abundant here and something I simply adore eating.
And that, in a nutshell, is my idea of eating for health. Eat food and eat according to how you feel. No other rules. Some days eat more, some less. Break the rules sometimes. It has nothing to do with weight loss. Could a person lose weight eating this way? Sure! Depends on the person though. Can you make it more complicated than this? Absolutely! And it goes without saying that some people suffer from medical conditions that limit their food choices.
I spent countless hours reading about nutrition. Each thing I read would be questioned or dis-proven by another thing I read. Only one theme came up again and again: food is more than the sum of its parts. If you extract the beta carotene from the carrot and ingest it, the effect is not the same as eating the carrot, it is less. Eating fats (oil for example) with vegetables helps your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables. Isn’t that interesting? And isn’t putting oil on your salad the most natural thing anyway? I would have done it whether some nutrition article told me I should or not. I stopped reading shortly after that and just got back to cooking and eating and living.