I heard a phrase recently that I think perfectly describes the state of America's nutrition at the moment. We are over fed, but under nourished. In other words, our food is rich in calories, but low in nutrients that we need to survive. This is mostly because of two things: processed foods and man-made chemicals in food.
Processed food could also be called "convenience food," because it is anything manufactured to simplify ingredients to increase shelf life, reduce cost, and likely make you addicted to the food. Yes, twinkies and oreos get the bad wrap, but technically most bread, crackers, and cereal should be considered "processed" as well.
Let me make an analogy. The coca tea leaf is native to Colombia and when chewed actually has many medicinal benefits. However, when put through a chemical process the drug cocaine can be manufactured from this leaf. The result is a processed, white powder that is highly addictive and illegal. We would never give our children cocaine to cure a headache!
However, did you ever think about what white flour or white sugar really are? White flour takes a wheat plant, removes the bran and germ leaving only the endosperm, which is then milled down into a simple white powder devoid of most nutrition. Likewise, table sugar is usually made from sugar cane or beets that are processed into a simple white powder.
I'm not saying that flour and sugar are the same thing as cocaine, but when you think of it closely - anything that is overly processed and refined becomes a simple white powder that barely resembles the original plant from which it came. I will go as far to say that sugar and while flour are possibly as dangerous as something like cocaine because they can be equally addictive and over consumption can lead to chronic health problems as we age and don't change our lifestyle.
These two white powders are found in about 99% of the foods we see on the shelves in grocery stores. We have as a country moved to making products that truly aren't food anymore, they just resemble food. Food is an apple, oats, spinach, nuts and seeds, animal meats...what we see on the shelves is mostly made of food derivatives that hit the bloodstream and are immediately turned to sugar. You see, when any form of sugar (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, maltodextrin, etc.) or flours (refined...unrefined...bleached...wheat...unbleached, enriched... it doesn't really matter what it says it's still processed!) hit our bloodstream, they spike insulin which is a "storing" hormone. It gives a temporary high, but then the fuel is used up before it can feed our cells and the result is this storing hormone creating more fat on our body while our cells are malnourished. The definition of "over fed, but under nourished" lies right there!
The other issue are the man made chemicals found in products that we use - not exclusively food. It's a tough thing to test these chemicals because often the companies which develop food products are the ones who hire out the safety studies of their food, and then the FDA simply reads and approves the reports. Common sense would dictate that with the rate of obesity rising in our country, there has to be some correlation to the amount of toxins in our food.
Do you know how a toxin works? Most chemicals are fat soluble, meaning they bind with fat molecules making it all the harder to break down these fat molecules. And then, even if you exercise and break down the fat molecules, you simple release the toxin into the bloodstream and unless you are eating food detoxing food, these toxins will likely not get flushed out of the system and will rather bind with other fat molecules. This leads to a nasty plateau. If you ever thought the term "detox" was a myth or fad, it's not. There are foods that will naturally help you detox and therefore help you break your plateau! Here is a list:
Green vegetables - nutrient dense
Gelatinous fibers - Chia seed, aloe vera, and sea weed (make gel when mixed with water, have soluble fiber
Parsley - has chlorophyll
Cilantro - binds with heavy metals and removes them
So many diets focus on what food we are going to "remove" from our daily eating, so I'd encourage you instead to focus on adding these foods to your diet. Juicing can be a very elegant way to take in large quantities of these foods. Also, Shakeology is the only nutrition shake that has many detoxing ingredients from this list and beyond mixed right in. Remember - toxins stick to fat. If you break down the fat, you need to have something in your body to help remove the toxin, otherwise you won't see any changes!
So how do you go about reducing processed foods and eating more detoxing foods? First - you must change your mind. Instead of seeing a bag of Doritos and saying, "Oh...I can't eat that. It's not on my diet," rather say, "I CAN eat that - but I choose not to." Can is empowering...can't is limiting. Know the difference!
Second, all these realities are why many people are turning to Ultimate Reset, which is a 21-day detox where you actually eat exclusively whole food for 21 days. It's not a low-calorie diet or a liquid diet. It is a 21 day whole food program with natural supplementation - there were days I was eating more than I would have on a "normal day" and I lost 13 pounds and was running so much cleaner after doing it. If you don't know what to do and need to revamp the way you are eating, this set will tell you exactly what you need to do for 21 days, and also the weeks after. Visit my blog to see what happened to me when I did Ultimate Reset: http://fitasylum.com/index.php/reset/dans-reset-video-blog. If you have done it before, you can always do it again as well.
Lastly - this post isn't meant to scare you and make you change everything over night! But I do think sometimes putting things in perspective is important and realizing that the food we eat can either be a slow acting poison, or nature's best medicine. Even if you can make a change of just 10% (adding 10% more detoxing foods and taking away 10% of the sugary foods) imagine how much healthier you will be as that 10% compounds every day. You can do it! Start somewhere, ask me for help, and know you are not alone - so many of us, including myself, have room for improvement on this.