There are lots of trendy diets out there that promise to magically or through strict, torturous sacrifice make you healthy, skinny, desirable and full of self-esteem with no exercise at all. Most are touted with lots of exclamation points and fearful warnings and deliberately make you worry about your health and your appearance. Few are based on science or come from serious doctors. And even fewer do much for you in a permanent and whole sense.
So, since I’m not a medical doctor (doctor, yes, but a PhD.) and have only my own personal observations on which to rely, I feel fully qualified – or at least as qualified as most other purveyors of dietetic regimens – to present to you my EATNOCRAP diet! Ta-daa! (Don’t sue me.)
First EATNOCRAP rule: Don’t swallow any baloney! The bigger the claims, the more likely things are too good to be true. The more hysterical the admonishments the more skeptical you can be. Remember how deadly eggs were considered for a time? Potatoes? Now soy is terrible, no it’s a super-food, no, it’s…..??? Terms like “all natural”, “high protein”, “super-food”, “low-fat” or “low-sugar” don’t mean much. Some of these claims, like “low-calorie” come with icky trade-offs, like artificial sweeteners. (“Organic”, on the other hand does mean a farm follows some strict rules and that they are monitored.) Corporate food marketers have their own set of priorities, and your health and my health are not at the top of that list.
Second EATNOCRAP rule: Keep it real! Instead of counting calories, count added chemicals! Real, unadulterated, un-fake food from the garden or farm, as fresh as possible, has better flavor and should contain more nutrients. And your body knows what to do with it. Colors, preservatives, added nutrients (’cause the real ones were lost in processing), fillers, sugar, salt and fats are trying to cover up the dismal lack of real taste and value. And they can have a negative impact on your health. Cook stuff, rather than microwave or order through a clown’s face, and don’t over-fuss. Simple is good. Real, fresh food requires less work and less added ingredients to be fabulous.
Third EATNOCRAP rule: Treat yourself! If you think your diet is a miserable sacrifice, it won’t work. Get the nicest, most colorful, freshest food you can afford, and make something pretty. You deserve it. You need it.
Fourth EATNOCRAP rule: Connect to the world around you! Be a real human being! Eating fresh, local, seasonal food from small farm helps your environment and your local economy. Massive commodity foods like sugar, cheap fats, GMO corn and wheat, dairy, soy, etc. and foods shipped from afar work against your environment and your local economy. There are also a lot of nasty chemicals around food when it’s shipped in bulk. That’s a big picture issue, but in the small picture, i encourage you to know your farmer and to eat with nice people, share and swap (healthy) dishes and recipes, and slow down to enjoy your meal. Encourage each other to EATNOCRAP.
Fifth EATNOCRAP rule: use common sense! I know, nobody does that anymore. So old-fashioned. Kids aren’t taught critical thinking skills. Nobody has time to be their own researcher and advocate. But if it’s in a glitzy package, you know it’s not farm fresh, right? Turn that package around and read it! If you don’t know what that stuff is, don’t put it in your mouth! You may find out later that it’s made from hair (L. Cysteine, a dough conditioner found in bagels, bread), anti-freeze (Propylene Glycol in lite ice creams) or beaver butt glands (fake vanilla flavor) or just straight up weird chemicals. Buckets of worthless carb-fat-salt concoctions and soda seem like a bargain, but you are smarter than that. Chicken nuggets are cheap in both senses of the word – not much money, not any real value. Ask yourself, how can some foods possibly be so cheap? How is cola cheaper than water? What is the real cost?
Sixth EATNOCRAP Rule: Do the best you can! Do what you can afford to do, but use your wits, your benefits, your social networks to find the best fresh, real food within your budget. Keep only the healthy stuff in your home, your space for well-being. Everyone will go off their ideal diet when traveling or at work or on special occasions, but if the junk food isn’t in your house and veggies with hummus is, that’s what you’ll eat while watching tv. If you must have something that’s not great for you, do it in a small amount, not too often, but exquisite quality. Rather than a rubbery, sugary, chocolate bar (made with slave labor), get a special artisanal truffle – same money, bigger treat. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip, but the more you eat fresh food, the less you’ll want to have the other.
Seventh EATNOCRAP Rule: Be your own fiercest defender. Your wellness is the priority. Take no bull. EATNOCRAP!