If all the low-fat, no-carb, low carb, high-protein, reduced-calorie and French women, etc., diets have left you confused and even wary about food, there’s some good news. A back-to-basics eating style is gathering momentum in America that’s finally promising to end our food frustration and guilt. Known as “clean,” “real,” or “authentic” eating, it marks a full-circle return to simple, fresh, wholesome, homemade, traditional food that’s nourishing for the body and soul. Here’s how to up your quotient:2012-01-01
Eat “food” not “science.” Despite how some manufacturers portray it, food is not medication. Take cereal, for instance. Peruse the boxes, and you’ll find claims of certain ingredients doing everything from fighting heart disease to stopping colon cancer. But it’s not any single food component that makes us healthy; rather, it’s the exquisite way they all interact. For example, researchers now realize that taking antioxidant supplements may provide little good. It’s only when antioxidants occur naturally in food that they truly nourish us. So eat a variety of foods, eat them fresh, and eat them whole. Examples of antioxidant-rich foods from the Panera menu include our Low-fat Black Cherry Smoothie, Seasonal Fruit Cup, and Strawberry, Poppyseed and Chicken salad.
Pick the few and familiar. Spend more time examining the ingredient list than the nutrition panel on packaged foods. The fewer and more familiar they are, the less processed and more nutritious the product is. Simple. At Panera bakery-cafes, for instance, we get produce shipments several times a week to ensure our ingredients are as fresh and nutritious as possible.
Relax and enjoy. Food doesn’t make us fat or unhealthy; it’s our overindulgence in it that does. Ironically, one of the most effective ways to control weight is not to deny yourself the things you love. Spread real butter on bread, put a dollop of whole milk in coffee…the satisfaction and satiety that results will slow your eating and help you ingest less. It’s the French paradox we’ve heard so much about. If we eat in moderation, there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff between pleasure and health.
Look for the love. Your grandma seasoned her food with it; now look for food companies and restaurants that exert similar care. Knowing where your food comes from, what’s in it, and how and by whom it’s prepared will help you eat more mindfully. This is the most important step to making peace with food and being satisfied again.