By Holly Brodhagen
I remember when I was in grade school our health class talking about healthy food choices and the four basic food groups. You were supposed to eat a select amount of servings from each food group each day and exercise. It seemed so simple and easy.
These days it seems that I have at least one conversation a day with family, friends or co-workers talking about the latest healthy eating fad – Atkins, Wheat Bellies, Isagenix, Weight Watchers, gluten-free, dairy-free, allergen-free, sugar-free and all the other “free” diets. Everyone has a story about why this or that diet works, how it makes them feel and how much it costs. People are spending a lot of time and money in this area, so I thought I’d check it out.
For every article that talks about the benefits of a certain diet, I found an equal number arguing against it – doctors arguing back and forth about good vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, calories and proteins and carbs – it didn’t end. Doctors and dietitians arguing about who is most qualified to talk about nutrition.
The debates never seemed to end, but after a lot of reading there was one thing that became clear. Almost all the recommended diets rely heavily on a foundation of healthy food choices and exercise, especially when it comes to weight loss.
So maybe my grade school teacher had it right. We should be eating food as close to its natural form as possible and eating from each food group in moderation. If the key to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle is good food choices and exercise, then why spend so much time, energy and money chasing diet fads? If eating food that comes in boxes and cans has caused our health problems, why would something that comes in boxes or cans solve them?
In my opinion – and please tell me if you disagree – you shouldn’t have to spend more money on supplements and replacements then you do on food. Why not take the money you would be using to buy the newest alternative food product and spend it on real food such as fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meat cuts, whole grains and dairy products? Support local food producers and farmers to get the freshest and healthiest food possible, which also means less processing. Eat seasonal foods and rely less on packaged foods that travel long distances.
Now my daughter is learning about the same healthy food choices I learned about at her age. Maybe this “fad” has been around for so long because it works so well.
Holly Brodhagen is a citizen of Dokis First Nation. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work.