by Dalia B. Tepper
If you haven’t heard by now that “white foods”—such as refined and processed grains and sugars—are fat-factories with little or no nutritional value, you must have been living alone on an uncharted island in the Bermuda Triangle.
Ignorance, however, is no longer an acceptable defense for poor eating habits. Especially since these days it’s impossible to avoid being bombarded with information about what to eat or avoid to keep the health of body, mind and emotions in the pink.
So, for the adventurous ‘I-am-going-to-eat-and-drink-what-I-darn-well-choose-and-I- don’t-give-a-hoot-what-you-say’ crowd, here are a few basic tips on how to keep alive, looking good and having the energy to get off the couch.
Message to junk food-addicted teenagers: Get a clue! What goes into your body determines whether you’re treated like dumpster trash or rising star. And don’t give me that lame “OK, I’ll try…” As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Relax kids, young and aging alike. I’ll make it easy for ya… Here are a few simple ways to push old eating habits out of your memory and get used to eating for health, energy, mental clarity, and just for the pleasure of feeling good:
First, whenever possible, choose ORGANIC foods. That will keep you away from genetically altered, biotech-engineered, Frankenstein grains; dairy (another category of white foods!) loaded with growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides (also found in non-organic meats); chemical-laden produce; and processed foods with questionable ingredients.
Avoid foods made with white flour—including bread and other baked goods, cereal, pasta, tortillas and gravy thickeners. In fact, whole-grain flours have more robust, often nutty flavors and pleasing textures.
Avoid processed grains—white rice, for example—because only the whole grain, with its starchy endosperm, germ and bran intact, can provide such health benefits as reducing the danger of heart disease and stroke (by lowering cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and controlling blood coagulation), and reducing the risk of various types of cancer. Whole grains also help regulate the blood glucose levels of diabetics, and keep the body’s weight in check by improving the metabolism. They are as rich as fruits and veggies in phytochemicals and antioxidants, plus they are a fab source of E and various B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and, of course, fiber.
Give wild and brown rice a whirl, and thank me later. Your taste-buds will take to the WHOLE grain versions of wheat, oats, rye, amaranth, millet, quinoa, triticale and even popcorn, faster than you could say, “Where have you been all my life?” You’ll find whole grain versions of all of these in cereals—hot and cold—as well as in breads, bagels, muffins, and even croissants, cakes and cookies.
Your bulges and love-handles will melt away fastest if you stay away from the white food that makes your heart race one moment, and puts you to sleep the next: Sugar.
As far as I’m concerned, sugar—from the refined crystals in our sugar bowl, to the molasses and corn syrup that masquerade in darker colors to throw us off—should carry ‘health-hazard’ warning labels… just like cigarettes.
Any foods that cannot escape being sweetened, taste far better when the white stuff is replaced by organic fruit juice, brown or raw sugar, or honey.
And even though, I must admit, there are many delicious and HEALTHY white foods—such as jicama, cauliflower, turnips, Daikon and other radishes, onions, garlic, and white asparagus—it’s still smart to keep one’s guard up against their less nutritious cousins.
For example always choose dark (organic, semi- or bitter-sweet) chocolate full of heart-healthy antioxidants, and avoid the empty calories of white chocolate.
If you keep in mind that what you put INTO your body affects far more the way you look than what you put ON your body, you’ll be on the path to becoming gorgeous. So, dress your insides in the high fashion of our century: Nutritious, health-building foods.
Oh yes… send us a ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture… and maybe a few lines about your journey to feeling good. We’ll be glad to post them on our blog, for all your present and future friends to celebrate your accomplishment.