Nutrition is much like a Rubik’s cube, complex and simple all at the same time. Because we overthink things and thus overcomplicate situations, we often miss the answers that are directly in front of us. When it comes to eating healthy, do not overthink it.
Eat food and not food-like products. If nature created it or it had a mother, eat it. If a factory created it, think twice before you bite. This will also help you see past marketing gimmicks that drive up sales for processed foods. I don’t care if the packaging says whole grains, real fruit or gluten-free, there is nothing natural about a Poptart and therefore, no associated benefits with its consumption.
Two key problems with processed foods are the added salts and sugars. Both serve several purposes—intensifying flavor, prolonging freshness, improving texture, preventing moisture build-up and binding molecules to name a few. Not only is this abundance of chemicals bad for our health, think about what it has done to our taste buds over years of chronic ingestion.
Synthetic versions of sugar and artificial sweeteners have completely warped our taste buds. Chemicals such as high fructose corn syrup and aspartame are manufactured to be up to 600x sweeter than sugar. People become quickly addicted to this unnatural sweetness and no longer can appreciate the value of foods that provide natural sugars. People pour sugar on cereal, oatmeal, fruit, beans, sweet potatoes, spaghetti, salad dressings, all with the quest of creating a more powerful, sweet palate.
Reduce your sugar intake
The good news is that you can improve your tastesbuds’ sensitivity to sugar. The process simply involves cutting out sugar and added sugars to the best of your ability for at least 30 days. It is remarkable how sweet a strawberry will taste in its natural element when you have avoided sugar for an extended period of time.
People avoid the saltshaker in efforts to reduce dietary sodium intake, but you know where the majority of sodium comes from? The Western diet or more commonly known as processed and cheap foods. More than 75% of daily sodium intake occurs from consuming items like breads, pizza, frozen dinners, sandwiches, lunchmeats, condiments, salad dressings, fast food menu items and soups. You can choose prepackaged foods and fast food menu items that are low in calories, low in fat, possibly even low in sugar, but you rarely find options that are low in sodium. Part of the reason why people add so much salt to their cooked food is because we are subconsciously trying to mimic the high salt value of the typical McDonalds order.
Reduce your sodium intake
One of the best approaches to reducing dietary sodium intake and thus decreasing preferences for salty foods is to cut back or even eliminate processed foods and eating out. Yes, it may be challenging at first, but you have everything to gain from focusing more on fresh, natural foods. Your nutrient intake will improve, your fiber will go up, you’ll sleep better, have less headaches and might even lose weight.
Eat food, not food-like products.