By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage
I have had to eat a “healthy” diet for most of my adult life. As a young girl, I ate as much junk food as my peers and my body rebelled. By 20, I could not eat any white or processed sugar because I was hypoglycemic. I developed migrane headaches from chocolate (a former childhood love) and fermented foods like sharp cheeses and wines. White bread made me sick, so I had to switch to whole grain bread even before it was marketed as whole grain bread. Through the years my body let me know, anything overly processed, overly sugared, overly salted, or overly fat was going to give me stabbing pain in my head, my abdomen, or just plain make me sick and exhausted. I am the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to food. But in many ways I am a lucky person. I haven’t been able to eat the typical American diet and I don’t have a lot of the typical American diseases. (such as obesity, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes)
I don’t tell you this to get accolades or say I am so great. No, my healthy diet was mainly by default in the beginning. I liked the junk food. I just couldn’t handle it. Later, as I read more and learned more, I ate healthy by design. Having grown up on Rice Krispy Treats, all things Nestle, Rice a Roni, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Skippy Peanut Butter, McDonald’s and Wonder Bread, I know what it’s like to try to wean off the processed foods and try to eat vegetables, fresh fruit, healthy grains, like brown rice, and be satisfied. In my case, I had a crash course in changing my diet. Still, it took a while to adjust to new tastes and learn how to be satisfied with less added sugar. But I can tell you IT CAN BE DONE! and your health and well being is worth it.
But How do you Know What’s Junk Food and What’s Healthy Food?
According to Margie King of the Philadelphia Nutrition Examiner, the NuVal nutritional scoring system may be the ticket to simpler healthy eating. The NuVal system will analyze more than 50,000 food items found in a typical grocery store and assign a value of 1 to 100 to each item. The higher the score, the more nutritious is the food.
The system is the brainchild of Dr. David Katz, an Associate Professor at the Yale University School of Public Health, and the Director and founder of Yale’s Prevention Research Center. Dr. Katz is an expert in nutrition and preventative medicine, the author of several books including The Flavor Point Diet, a syndicated health columnist for The New York Times and a medical contributor for ABC News.
Read more from Margie King of the Philadelphia Nutrition Examiner here
Dr. Katz says our taste buds are malleable and we are teaching them to crave salt and sugar. Eating added sugar in non-dessert items in everything from pasta sauce to breakfast cereal causes our taste buds to crave sugar much more than we normally would. In the video, he talks about how there is as much sodium in many breakfast cereals than your diet should be. It’s well worth the 4 minutes to watch Dr. Katz talk about how our diets are modified by the food supply and how we can retrain our taste buds to enjoy healthier less salty and less sugary foods.
As American’s look to health care reform, there is a growing buzz about food system reform as well. Some say health care reform won’t work without reforming our nutritional system. The Nu Val system is one attempt to give us tools to reform our diets so we don’t NEED as much health care intervention. It’s Prevention versus Disease Treatment. And that sounds pretty sweet! Read Why Health Care Reform Requires Nutrition Reform by Margie King in the Philadelphia Nutrition Examiner