TOPIC WE LOVE – THE HEALTH FOOD PENDULUM
If you’re familiar with The Seasoned Chef, you know that we often discuss health trends here on the blog. But one thing that we’ve noticed in our decades of being in business is that health trends tend to run on something of a pendulum.
When something is considered “healthy,” the opposite will likely become popular or trendy in the near future. Typically prompted by a small scientific study or by a dramatically created documentary, a large shift will occur that tells the public what is “best” for their wellbeing.
Below, we explore just a few of these major food pendulum swings that have impacted our public psyche in the past few years. But, before we dive in, here’s what we believe here at The Seasoned Chef.
We have always believed, and will continue to believe, that the healthiest way to live is to eat whole, complete foods as much as possible. Cooking at home allows you to know and understand every aspect of your meal, and it also helps to eliminate many of the additives that restaurants love to cook with when they make the items on their menu.
Eating fresh, whole foods does everything from lowering your blood sugar, to improving your digestion, to increasing your energy levels, and even to reducing inflammation and any related muscle pain. This is why we never use processed foods in our kitchen and only teach simple, affordable recipes that you can make at home according to your tastes and dietary preferences.
But now, let’s dive into the fun stuff. Here are five health-trend swings that we’ve seen in the recent past, as well as our point of view.:
TREND #1: EAT THE SNACKS. NO, DON’T EAT THE SNACKS.
At least in America, we have a strong love/hate relationship with snacking.
For a while, we were told that snacking is “good” for us. Rumor had it that it kept our metabolism revving all day and helped us to control portion size at dinner because you wouldn’t be ravenous.
But, on the other side, eating whatever is available to snack on can dramatically increase our caloric intake for the day and, with many of the snacks that are readily available, we’re sharply increasing our sodium intake to unhealthy levels.
So here’s what we believe. Eat if you’re hungry, but make it natural, whole foods. We fully believe that you should eat if you’re hungry. Don’t starve yourself until your next meal or allow your blood sugar to get too low. But try to eat the healthy stuff – we recommend carrying around a piece of fruit or some small, healthy snack to indulge in when the hunger pangs hit. There’s no snack as on-the-go as a small clementine or apple – it has its own, biodegradable wrapper and everything!
TREND #2: COFFEE IS GOOD FOR YOU. OR IS IT?
Depending on the day, coffee is widely publicized to be good or bad for you. But, unfortunately, many of these studies have incredibly low sample sizes so that the research can get out to the public to grab some quick headlines!
On one hand, the caffeine in coffee does sharply increase your energy, it helps you to stay focused, and it helps you burn more fat for the amount of time the caffeine is in your body.
But coffee can also cause insomnia, increases your bad cholesterol, and certain coffees can be toxic enough to cause sickness, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.
Whether you feel like coffee is right for you or not, the research does not seem to be strong enough one way or the other that you should dramatically change your behavior immediately. BUT, we do suggest limiting your coffee where possible. A dependency on any substance is not natural nor ideal. Most of us drink coffee primarily for the experience – the delicious aroma, the cozy warm cup in our hands, and the short burst of energy it provide to help us get our day started.
If this all sounds familiar, then we also suggest trying a warm cup of water with lemon instead, or try chugging a full glass of water to make sure that you’re not just dehydrated.
TREND #3: A MEDITERRANEAN DIET IS BEST FOR YOU. JUST KIDDING, IT’S GREEK THAT’S BEST FOR YOU. JUST KIDDING, IT’S SOUTH AMERICAN. (AND ON, AND ON, AND ON…)
Many people, your’s truly included, love to travel the world with our taste buds. And we’ve found that there’s a widely recognized trend for different nations to have diets that are considered “healthier” than others.
But the truth is that any nation’s stereotypical diet, while some having healthier components than others, has both healthy and unhealthy elements. If you eat all of the fresh, Italian pasta you can find, it’s probably going to be a bit too much for your system to deem “good for you.” But fresh, Italian pasta, in moderation, can be great for you! If you eat a Mediterranean diet, you’ll eat plenty of seafood and delicious fruit and veggies, but you’re likely to have a hyper-sensitive system and will likely pay a lot in finding the ingredients.
In general, we do agree that some diets are healthier than others, but we don’t follow any diet specifically. If you do decide to follow one specific diet, then consider altering it slightly with new, fresh ingredients and a variety of different nutrient sources so that you’re eating a well-rounded diet that gives your system everything you need to live your best life.
TREND #4: LOW FAT… BUT MAYBE NOT TROUBLE-FREE
In America, many of us have goals to lose weight and/or lower our cholesterol. And, in some form, the advice to focus on eating less fat is spot on. The less bad fats we eat, the less likely we are to allow that fat to coagulate as plaque in our bodies.
But the truth is that food makers tend to replace the fat they remove with sugars and salt to improve the taste. This, then, adds bad calories back into your food.
So, instead, we at The Seasoned Chef suggest to make as much food as you can at home. When you make foods at home, not only do you know all of the ingredients, but you also have the opportunity to add back in good fats. Think extra-virgin olive oil, lean cuts of meat, and lots of seafood. These good fats will help to lower your bad cholesterol and help your normal bodily functions to keep humming along swimmingly all day long.
TREND #5: ARE GRAINS GOOD OR BAD FOR YOU?
Depending on the day, we hear about how good or bad grains are for you, or anywhere in between. Today, whole wheat is the way to go. Tomorrow, it’s grain free. Yesterday, it was everything but the crust.
But here are the facts.
Only 1 in 133 people have some form of celiac disease – an inherited, intestinal disease that forces the body to not tolerate gluten. Some people may also have a form of a wheat allergy that may not allow their body to process gluten.
However, unless you have celiac disease or some form of wheat allergy, healthy, whole grains are on our list of things that are good for our bodies… in moderation. And, even better, there are several gluten-free options that are whole grain so that you can receive the benefits, even while living a gluten free lifestyle!
Whole grains are packed with good-for-you nutrients, like beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamin C. The nutrients included help with everything from stabilizing your blood sugar, to lowering your bad cholesterol, to improving your immune function.
But, just like anything, too many grains can be overwhelming to your system. So try to incorporate them into your day, rather than making them the primary focus of every meal.
DID YOU KNOW?
If you’re looking to change up your diet a bit, then we have a class that’s called “Cooking the Paleo Way” that will point you in the right direction.
In this class, we’ll teach you how to make everything from steak to delicious pork to chicken with curry sauce. Plus, we’ll highlight a delicious shrimp dish and salmon with Mediterranean vegetables on the side so that you’ll have fresh, delicious, healthy, affordable meals to eat every day of the week!