Is it time to cut the C.R.A.P?

While Americans are beginning to panic due to a national obesity epidemic, nutritionists, health gurus and “those guys from the gym” are recommending a clean eating lifestyle. The clean eating movement is based on avoiding pre-packaged, processed foods and choosing to eat “whole foods” such as whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, fatty fish and lean meats. Many assert that eating food in its most natural state is the catalyst for a healthy, active and long-lasting life. Livestrong.com asserts that “Loading up your diet with minimally processed, whole foods… not only provides nutrients to support healthy cell function but also helps fight chronic disease.” University of Florida IFAS Extension promotes filling your plate [9 in. in diameter] halfway with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, carrots or salad greens and filling only a quarter with lean meat and the last quarter with grains or starchy vegetables. This promotes clean eating and is a great way to control one’s carbohydrate intake. In addition, a plate full of vegetables ensures one feels full at the end of their meal and prevents after dinner snacking. While many are strict followers of the clean eating movement– others assert that eating processed foods and high-fat, high-calorie treats is okay in smaller quantities. Evidence Magazine, an online source dedicated to fitness, points out: “Vegans believe meat is toxic and gives you cancer. Dr. Robert Lustig and others claim that fructose is a ‘poison’ and causes obesity and liver damage. The USDA still tells people that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, and that whole grains should form the base of your diet. Paleo advocates claim that grains, gluten, beans, processed oils and dairy give people cancer and pretty much every other known disease. Mycotoxins are lurking in everything you eat, secretly making you fat and damaging your health. ‘Processed’ foods and artificial ingredients are dangerous. GMO’s cause cancer and give you tumors. Pretty much everyone claims all trans-fats are bad for you in any amount. All of these claims are either untrue or out of context. Any food can be damaging in large enough amounts. The real question is whether or not these foods damage your health in the amounts they are normally consumed, in the context of a mixed diet. The scientifically valid answer to this question is ‘no.’” So, what does one do with the overload of information? Perhaps, it all comes down to practicalities. Most agree excess of anything is harmful and eating a balanced diet and maintaining a regular excericise routine is best. Should everyone remove dairy, gluten or red meat from their lives forever or else die? Probably not. However, cutting back on the “crap” can create a healthy, more energized you. Write this acronym on a sticky note and place it where you’ll see it every day; perhaps your bathroom mirror or desk at work.

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