Since when did the question "What should I eat?" become as complicated as figuring out the tech system on your new Ford Fusion or accurately inputting a list of handwritten email addresses into Outlook? In the good old days people fed themselves, living off the land and eating animals they raised or hunted. Food wasn't always plentiful. Growing a pot belly was not on their worry list. I'm sure they didn't obsess about the precise percentage of fats, carbs, and protein they consumed on a daily basis. Nor did they focus on whether they were eating a gluten-free or a pH-balanced diet. Food was sustenance to fuel the body. It wasn't a form of entertainment, a reward for a bad day at the office, or a boredom reliever.
Fast forward to today. Food has done a 180. Overeating is now the prevalent problem. The issues are twofold: There's a cornucopia of tempting food everywhere and this overabundance is exacerbated by the excessive variety of culinary options to choose from. It's gotten to the point where the average American is tasked with making over 200 food choices in a single day. Making wise decisions becomes even more complicated when you consider the constant onslaught of confusing and often contradictory nutrition research results and the latest dietary recommendations from both reputable experts and hot celebrities. Is it any wonder that we make a lot of bad decisions and end up carting around a fanny pack or roller bag stuffed with fat cells?
As a certified nutritionist, I field a steady stream of questions about trendy diets, supplements, and intricate eating strategies. "What do you think of the Paleo diet?" "Should I take a Vitamin D or fish oil supplement?" "Will I gain weight if I eat after 8 p.m.?" Given the persistent stream of quick fixes and conflicting studies that flood the media, these are not stupid questions. Trying to figure out that elusive perfect diet has become as challenging as getting a straight answer from a politically correct Californian.
As a result, many people swing from one extreme to another. They focus on identifying those magic foods and colon cleanse products that will eradicate all evidence of that yummy Carl's Jr. Tex Mex Bacon Thickburger they just demolished in one minute flat. Or they decide to suddenly abandon their fast food ways, banish the drive-thru, and become a vegan overnight.
How about adopting a new strategy? Stop trying to decipher the minuscule text on your smartphone, look at the big screen and get real about adopting a sustainable healthy lifestyle. You already have all the information you need.
There's no need to overthink eating. It's really not that complicated. Just follow the KISS acronym and you'll be on the straight and narrow of a healthy diet:
• Keep at it. A healthy lifestyle requires a concerted effort every day. It's all about consistency, not perfection.
• Insist on real food. Stop eating packaged, preserved concoctions manufactured in plants. Eat real food, especially plants.
• Share potions. We've become conditioned to overeat by supersizing and gargantuan restaurant potions. When you eat out share an entrée and you'll be on the right track.
• Select colors. Your plate shouldn't look like a washed out palette. Fill it with colorful fruits and vegetables and you're on your way.