Top request I get when writing articles and doing presentations is to share the secret to food. To give everyone an algorithm of what's "good" and what's "bad" whether they're at a restaurant, Christmas, or vending machine.
The request is problematic in many ways -
#1 = All food has value - sometimes it's for the physical body and sometimes the emotional self.
But value is value.
#2 - Me labeling it "good" or "bad" doesn't change your decision - it just makes you feel good (or bad).
So what's the point in the label?
How do we figure it all out?
But we as a society have created hierarchies. We have deemed the glucose from a banana superior to the glucose we get from table sugar. But is one "better" than the other?
A parallel world...
So all foods are equal?
All foods are equal in the sense that they have varying blends of physical and emotional value. But some are more conveniently packaged with more nutrients that others. But that doesn’t mean we can’t complement and supplement what we eat with varying food combinations to get what we need.
We have to be realistic about what’s in front of us, what we enjoy, and what we are willing / capable to maintain. There are times I might recommend someone get their energy from table sugar instead of a banana due to what’s convenient, a diminished appetite, or the need for rapid energy unimpeded by complicated chemistries. There are times I love cheetos for the salt and crunch! But like with my patients, I’m thoughtful to make sure we get missing nutrients over time from other foods (eg, vitamins, minerals, fiber).
Similar to the money example, you can pay a $100 electrical bill a lot of different ways - 1 crisp bill or 5 twenties or 100,000 pennies or 100 singles and everything in between (let’s not even get into checks, credit, and electronic payments - yikes). There are actually 293 ways to make change for $1...I refuse to do the math for $100.
The point is, you pay the $100 electric bill based on what you have available as well as how big your wallet, purse, or suitcase is. The $100 is not more valuable based on how you got there. But at the end of the day, you’re still at $100, and that’s what the electric company cares about.
If you really want to understand food, forget the rules. Consider exploring chemistry. It can teach you the building blocks of what the body sees. And then you can look at food labels objectively to understand what you’re getting and what you’re missing.
Stay nourished friends!
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is meant to be for general education. If you want individual guidance to reach your unique health goals, please contact me or a local dietitian directly
Dietitian, personal trainer, mother, wife, runner, and triathlete staying healthy one bit and bite at a time