So now that we've covered the meats it's time to move on to my tumultuous relationship with fruits and veggies. I love fresh fruit and vegetables, after all, I went vegetarian for a while, remember? BUT this has been a confusing one for sure.
First I had to recognize that the 1950's called and they want their "US Dietary Guidelines" back. It is no longer valid or relevant to the food we eat now as so much has changed. The government updated the guidelines in 1992 and made a fancy pyramid which still makes no sense. To irritate me further.... the food industry is directly involved in developing these guidelines. Not at all a conflict of interest (insert sarcasm here). My fave of all is the idea that we as humans should/need to drink cow's milk everyday. Hilarious. That topic for another day.
Bottom line - our present day food supply looks very different than that of past generations and even our parents. That can't be ignored. I'll cover off on how this affects all areas but I will stay focused on fruits and veggies today.
Let's establish a baseline here: anything with a seed is a fruit. Yes that means - cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini.... Now, have you noticed most fruits are available all year long? How is it that strawberries for example are in season all year long? That is because the food industry is "farming" these fruits in a way that has required genetic modification to grow all season and grow fast. This has been going on for years and years and the end result is what is on our shelves now and they are loaded with fructose (sugar) and the seeds have a protein called lectin. This brings new meaning to "ripe" and our bodies are not quite sure how to process them which results in gut issues and hormone disruption. I could go into the science of it all but it's boring to most...... So let's call this my opinion. Because of the this informed opinion I make an effort to do the following:
(Note: if you want to learn more, reach out and I can recommend some great books.)
- Eat fruits only in season. Not sure what those are? There are tools out there like THIS.
An easier approach - head the Farmer's Market on the weekends. What is available and for sale? You can be pretty confident the local farmers are only growing what is in season on their sustainable farms. (Again, check your farms, do your research). In general I do not eat much fruit anymore except avocado's. I eat TONS of avocado's and I try to buy organic Haas. They are much lower in sugar than other fruits and they are filled with healthy fats and well - they are delicious!!
On to veggies..... I try and stick with lots of leafy greens either locally farmed or organic in the grocery store. I personally love greens so this one is easy for me but I know it's tough for some. My faves: Romaine, Spinach, Kale (Baby Kale my fave), Swiss Chard, Arugula. I eat them all in salads and cook with them as well. Root vegetables (also called tubers) I stick to sweet potatoes, radish, beets, and carrots. Other regulars in the house every week are Broccoli, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Cabbage/Brussel Sprouts, Mushrooms and Onions.
- My only important tip here is buying local or organic to avoid the pesticides or anything raised with GMO's/preservatives.
- Just buy what you need as fresh veggies don't last for days in the fridge..... if it does it's laced with fun preservatives and chemicals to make it last long. Not good. Your body will not thank you.
My final note and is that what I have learned is that I do not need to "count calories" and I do not need to worry as much about how much I am eating. It's about what I am NOT eating. Yes, the list has definitely grown over the years but it has also pushed me to try new things and explore other healthier options. I don't feel boxed in on my choices by any means. I also practice moderation when I feel like eating the things normally on my "no" list.
As always - share your feedback and experiences, send questions. Happy eating!