There is a buzz going around the internet about the documentary "What the Health." So yesterday, since my hubby and I were lazily recovering from my cousin's wedding on Saturday, and we decided to watch some of it during Emma's nap. I like keeping up to date with these types of things since I AM a dietitian, a food nerd, and like to make my own opinions based on my knowledge, research, and experience.
And basically, what we felt about the documentary was confusion. Confusion about what to eat, what science is actually telling us about food, what really causes obesity/diabetes/heart disease, and basically what to have for dinner.
Nutrition can be SO confusing, and if you don't have a firm grip on what works for YOU, it can be easy to be tossed around from one diet/lifestyle to another in order to find your saving grace in regards to your health, weight, and happiness. I've done this and am guilty of it. I have moments where I believe a paleo diet, a gluten free diet, a vegan diet, or some other strict way of eating will save me from my food issues, help me lose weight, and bring me happiness. And that is just not the case!
"What the Health" is a documentary promoting a vegan lifestyle. It makes some statements that sugar is not inflammatory (false) and that fat is what is causing the obesity epidemic (false). Science shows time and time again that sugar IS inflammatory and that fats (the right kinds) are beneficial to our health. But, many of the points that the documentary made were spot on, such as the importance of fruits and vegetables and plant based eating.
So what are we left with? We have one end of the spectrum saying carbs are the devil and to avoid them at all costs, while eating more bacon, red meat, and eggs. And we have the other end saying animal protein is the devil and we must eat more carbs and less fat in order to be healthy. My viewpoint is to look at the common denominator for both of these philosophies:
What all health philosophies agree on is the importance of PLANTS. Things that are grown from the earth. Things that aren't tampered with in a factory or a farm. As Michael Pollan so simply puts: "eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
This is my philophoshy as well. Instead of focusing on what we "shouldn't have" whether it is sugar, meat, eggs, or carbs, focus on what we SHOULD have more of: green leafy vegetables, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, berries, apples, etc. Real, whole foods. Plants. They are pretty awesome for our health.
The more we fill up on these nourishing foods, the less room we will have for the treats, whether your treat is a cheeseburger or a brownie. But, that doesn't mean you don't ever have the treat. You have the treat, and then move on back to your plants. Your plants is where the majority of your diet lies. Which is what being "plant-based" is all about.
The documentary DID remind me of how awesome I felt eating a more plant-based diet. Being a nursing mama, lately my meals have been "what's easy to grab and eat" which makes for some healthy choices and some not so healthy choices. While I am still following my portion-control meal plan, some meals are not the healthiest. So I did appreciate that aspect of the documentary and plan on leaning more towards a plant based diet because of how awesome it made me feel mentally, physically, and emotionally.
But, I didn't agree with the fact that the documentary made sugar out to be a friend and totally fine to consume. While I am a big fan of sugar and do consume it, I think it is important to be mindful of our sugar intake, and especially our processed sugar intake. From the research I've done and the science I've studies, sugar DOES contribute to diabetes and heart disease and IS inflammatory. So be aware of this when you are treating yourself, and treat in moderation.
And this is even more of a reason I am so grateful for the meal plan that I follow. Being able to balance out all the food groups is key to vitality and good health. Having a balance of protein (whether plant based or animal based), vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats is important, and all in the correct portions. So my meal plan serves me in this respect.
The bottom line is to not confuse yourself too much on what you shouldn't eat. Focus on how to nourish yourself and what you SHOULD eat more of, which is what my accountability groups focus on. Don't focus on deprivation, but more so on how you can fill your plate with as many good, wholesome, nutrient dense foods as possible.
If you need some help learning how to eat this way, I don't blame you! It can be confusing, but my job as a dietitian and wellness coach is to guide you towards nourishing your body and your soul. If you'd like to apply for my next accountability group and start focusing on how to eat MORE of the nourishing stuff, click on the link below and apply! The deadline for my next group is July 16th, so apply fast to reserve your spot!
Hope you all have a fabulous Monday!