To me, it has intuitively made sense to eat real food, i.e. food that we are meant to eat as a species, for quite a while now. Like most people, when I was young I wasn’t that fussy and did eat (and drink) a fair amount of junk. It’s funny how young people tend not to worry too much about the effects of diet on health and wellbeing, probably because they think they are invincible or more likely because they don’t think about it at all. The more I’m learning about nutrition and health, the more I am embracing real food. Luckily I have not suffered from ill health so I can’t claim that a diet of unprocessed fresh food and plenty of healthy fats has cured me of numerous ailments but I still notice the difference and feel ten times better. I suppose you don’t realise how much better you can feel before you experience the difference. In case you need convincing I have listed 5 benefits of eating real food. There are many more, but I’m hoping this will get you going.
The most obvious benefit is the high nutritional value of unprocessed foods. A diet of vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruit and nuts has a much higher nutrient density than a diet that contains processed foods, including pasta, bread and cereals.
Real food is less addictive than processed food. Highly processed foods contain a dangerous combination of sugar, fats, starch, salt and often glutamate which make them very rewarding to us as we are biologically designed to seek out calorie-dense foods. This was beneficial for us when we were hunter-gatherers, but is catastrophic in our current obesogenic environment. Food is available everywhere and it is nearly impossible not to overeat.
Whole foods are more satiating than processed foods, which means we are less likely to overeat them. Satiety is a measure of how full you feel after eating a certain food and healthy sources of fat and protein score high in this department. Just think how easy it is to keep on eating crisps and biscuits, even when you know you’re not hungry and how unlikely you are to binge on salmon or eggs.
The original human diet has a low-moderate energy density compared to modern processed foods. Energy density is the amount of calories per weight. Cereals, bread, pasta, junk food and processed food in general have a high energy density and low nutritional value. Some real foods such as meat and nuts are high in calories, but the original diet on the whole is relatively low in calories.
Cutting down on unhealthy sources of carbohydrates will improve and stabilise energy levels. Eating real food will keep blood glucose levels and insulin production within a healthy range. Your body will become more adept to burning fat instead of relying on glucose as the main source of energy. After an initial transition period, when you may feel more tired than usual, you will feel more energetic for longer periods of time.
Embracing a real food diet takes some planning skills and getting used to, but I strongly feel the benefits far outweigh the (often temporary) negatives. Give it a go and see how it can make a difference to your health and wellbeing.
If you need some help adopting a healthy life style, feel free to book a free 1-hour sample session.