Chicken, spinach and pomegranate salad. Natural and healthy. Also, delicious!
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
From: “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”
By: Michael Pollan – author, journalist, professor of journalism
Michael Pollan´s aphorism is one one the best-known sayings to do with nutrition. A large part of the population in most Western countries overeats in relation to the physical activity they do and they also, often, stuff themselves with the wrong things. Greasy take-aways, hamburgers, and many things crammed full of sugar. Chemicals, preservatives……
One of the consequences is overweight, or even obesity.
How to Lose Weight Without Dieting
We believe that the best way, for most people, to reach – and then maintain – the “right” weight is via a “Natural Diet“.
Some life-style changes are usually necessary to lose weight permanently. They will involve consuming less calories than are used from day-to-day living and/or increasing the calories used by doing more exercise. Common sense, really!
The Natural Food Diet is painless, because the changes can be introduced gradually and the total food and drink consumed are not drastically altered. Rather, adjustments are made to the kind of food and drink consumed, and that gnawing permanent feeling of hunger that comes with most diets is avoided.
Advantages of the Natural Food Diet
(also known as the Real Food Diet)
- It is a balanced diet, with no food groups eliminated
- A drastic, potentially dangerous, drop in food and drink consumption is not advocated
- Steady weight loss over months, rather than in a short period is suggested
- It should be part of a new healthy lifestyle, so that the reduced weight is easily maintained
- Special, and usually expensive, diet foods or supplements are not necessary
- Readily available, generally cheap, foods are the essence of this diet
- It is a common-sense diet, in which you are not left feeling hungry all the time
Above all, it is a diet that works for most people, both to lose weight and then to maintain the new weight indefinitely.
What are Natural Food, Real Food, Organic Food?
There is confusion over the names of different approaches to food. Three common expressions are: natural food, real food and organic food, which sound quite similar. Many people think they are the same.
So, what is the difference?
Natural Food and Real Food: “Natural” foods and “real” foods do not have a universally accepted definition. In the context of diets, both natural and real foods are considered as meaning foods that have had little or no processing and contain no hidden sugars or other additives. Furthermore, they have not been altered chemically. Natural foods are often, therefore, described as “real foods”, because they are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Consequently, they are generally the healthiest foods for people to eat, as they are packed with nutrients.
This is the essence of a “natural” foods way of living:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables – see results of recent study here.
- 100% whole grains
- Fish, meat and eggs
- Dairy products – milk, cheese, unsweetened yogurt
- Snacks – nuts, seeds, dried fruits, popcorn (unsweetened)
- Drinks mostly limited to water; milk; natural unsweetened juices; tea and coffee, without sugar. Some wine & beer!
The food consumed should be balanced, without very large amounts of any particular one.
What Should Not Be Consumed With a Natural Food Diet
- Refined grains, including, for example, white rice
- Refined sweeteners, including sugar in all the guises that it appears in (anything ending in -ose is likely to be out, as it´s probably a form of sugar)
- Processed foods – lots of calories and they are usually full of additives. “Bad” fats, salt. And sugar!!
- Deep fried food
Seeing a list of food like that can make it seem complicated, but it isn´t really. It soon becomes second-nature to choose the right things when shopping. In fact, a positive aversion often appears for the things that should be avoided. What sort of oil is used at your nearest fast-food joint and how often is it changed? How about the food and the quality of the ingredients that they buy? It´s likely to be the cheapest oil and food at the wholesalers. Better not ask what is in sausages or pies, because it´s usually better not to know.
The beauty of a “natural” food diet is that it does not absolutely prohibit things. The fact that on Monday you had a take-away pizza is OK – so long as it´s exceptional. While you are in the process of losing weight, you should avoid all the items listed, but having reached the target you can be a little more flexible. With great care!
“Organic” food is often confused with “natural” or “real” food, but is in fact different.
“Natural” and “real” foods are concerned mainly with having the least possible amount of processing of food before they are consumed. Some countries have stringent standards for what may be described as natural food, but many countries, including the USA, do not. Thus, in many countries a label on food saying “natural” means little.
“Organic” foods include fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy foods and meat that are produced, processed and handled in accordance with specific rules, which exist in most countries. These include not having had chemical or artificial fertilisers, pesticides or preservatives used in their production. Livestock for organic meat should be able to go outdoors and should be fed with organic feed. Also, they should not be given antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products..
Labels describing food as “organic” are subject to regulation and are enforced in most jurisdictions.
Are Natural Food and Organic Food Better For Health?
There is little firm evidence that either natural food or organic is better for health, but many people have an instinctive feeling that they must be. This is particularly the case for organic foods, which have been produced without disagreeable-sounding pesticides and chemicals. Also, people are increasingly concerned with exactly what they are eating, specially after the various scandals there have been round the world. The long list of additives that are common in manufactured foods may or may not potentially damage health, but they are certainly off-putting!
It is, however, the case that healthy natural foods as part of a lifestyle are likely to lead to weight loss during a diet. After the diet, when the desired weight has been reached, natural foods help to maintain the new weight. This avoids the fate of almost everyone who loses weight on a conventional diet – to put back on again all the weight lost. Usually, the weight put back on exceeds the weight lost on the diet.
The “Natural” or “Real Food”Diet
A Natural Diet is the best and healthiest way for most people to lose weight. If they do not need to lose any weight, it is nevertheless an excellent way to live on a routine day-to-day basis. A simple and healthy way of life. Losing weight with this diet does not involve any drastic and unhealthy reductions in food and drink consumed. Calories are cut, but in stages which are hardly noticeable from day to day.
Accompanying the change in the type of food eaten come tweaks to lifestyle. Because the lifestyle adjustments are small, it is far easier to make them part of permanent lifestyle even when the diet has finished. This avoids the problem that over 95% of dieters have, which is that within a relatively short time they pile the weight back on again.
See the changes to lifestyle here.
What are Natural Foods?
A natural food diet includes lean meat (preferably local) and fish; plenty of fruit and vegetables; whole wheat and other grains; eggs; milk and cheese, yogurt (unsweetened); plenty of water and natural juices, tea and coffee; dried fruit, nuts, seeds and popcorn.
Sugar and its variants should be drastically reduced and sugar substitutes have also come under a lot of suspicion recently. Consequently, it´s best to use them sparingly, if at all. Sugar is packed with calories, is addictive and brings no nutritional benefits at all.
The proportions of the different foods consumed should be altered. This diet not only helps you lose weight, if you need to, but also to helps in making you healthy. It works on the principle that the healthiest foods are fresh whole foods and that manufactured or processed foods are usually cumulatively bad for you.
A natural foods diet is not, in fact, so very different from a “normal” way of eating. Proportions are changed. Less junk food, far less sugar and more fruit and vegetables. Also, a lot less deep fried foods, specially if from a fast-food joint. A natural foods diet is also flexible. Occasionally breaking the rules , by having something that should normally be avoided, is OK! Nothing is absolutely out, it´s just that some things should be reduced, sometimes drastically.
What are “Unnatural” Foods?
If there are “natural” foods, then there may also be “unnatural” foods, but what are they?
Processed, or manufactured food-like substances, usually have fewer healthy ingredients and are full of unhealthy things like sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and other additives. They crowd the food sections of supermarkets and attract attention with their colouful packaging and, often, dubious health claims. Dr David Katz, the celebrated and sometimes controversial nutritionist, would maintain that they usually glow in the dark and they also tend to contain a lot of calories. They are, in fact, bad news. This is specially so in the quantities that they are consumed now-a-days, specially in the form of take-away or fast- foods. Mainly “artificial” food, they are often responsible for illnesses and poor health among people who consume them in large quantities. They are considered a contributory cause of the overweight and obesity epidemic that has gripped the western world.
Images courtesy of:
Header image – Pexels
“The Joy of Eating Black Beans” – ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER
“Food Addiction” (Spaghetti and Meat Balls) – Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose
All other images – pixabay