I’ve officially lost count of the number of times I’ve stood in line at the grocery story, glanced over at the magazine stand and seen headline after headline touting the next best way to “lose ten pounds in ten days,” or “best foods to combat winter fluff.” While I appreciate the sentiment and the thought of having leaner, healthier bodies, when I flip open those magazines to glance through while I wait in line, more often than not the solutions are to pick low-fat options, pick whole grain options, eat more granola bars, or pop anti-gas pills.
Learning by doing isn’t always the best way to do things (especially when it involves having to pop anti-gas pills to lose weight). I can’t say I have ever tried that recommendation, but I’ve definitely been one to choose whole wheat bread instead of white. I’ve eaten more bars than I can remember, but the fluff never seemed to fall off.
And then, I heard something so simply stated that I was sure it wouldn’t work – “Just eat real food.” However, like I said, I learn by doing. Depending on whom you ask, real food may not always have the same definition. The best way I’ve come to understand it is real food is food that is its own ingredient – like meat, apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli, butter, and cashews. It’s basically non-processed food. If you’re shopping in the grocery store, real food is the food that you find around the perimeter of the store– in the produce section, the deli, or the butcher – and some of the refrigerated sections. That makes shopping a lot easier when you only have to shop the perimeter.
Once I started eating real food, even though it wasn’t low-fat (did you know that low-fat often means replaced with sugar?), I felt better, healthier, leaner. It was the best food experiment I’ve ever completed on myself. Since my experiment, I’ve continued to gain interest in the conjectures of real food, and I have learned quite a bit more.
In this article from Vox, Dr. Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, explained why those headlines in Cosmo and other magazines like them (even health-specific magazines) should not always be believed. The science behind these and many widely-spread nutrition lies is based on flawed evidence. After his own dives into popular nutrition science books, he found that policies regarding dietary recommendations have been “based on fragile science, and the long term results may be terrible.”
Smith also referenced Nina Teicholz’ book, The Big Fat Surprise (which I also recommend), which sheds light on the weak science that has dictated our health policies. Research that would contradict the Big Food companies and industry in general were, and continue to be, ignored and cast aside, in the name of politics and money. The flawed research is what has actually shaped our policies and agenda, including our dietary guidelines. So, all of these recommendations splashed across health and lifestyle magazines are based on bad science. No wonder the fluff doesn’t fall off!
True science and learning by doing has demonstrated that eating real food really does work. My hope is that the real food movement continues to grow, and that as people like you and me try it for ourselves, we realize the power of food – the real stuff – and the positive impact it can have on our beings.
You don’t have to read the tips in the next fast fix article. Just eat real food.