by Matt Espeut – Providence, RI
Every personal trainer will tell you the same thing—you can’t work out a bad diet. Why? Because it’s true. You can have the greatest workout program, but if you begin it or end it with a run through a donut shop for coffee or you think you can reward yourself with an unhealthy choice, you are going nowhere. And, you’re spending your valuable time—and money—to get there.
The first thing I ask people about when they come to me is their eating habits. Nine out of ten times, people tell me that they eat pretty well. They are not telling me this because they are trying to lie to me, but, instead, due to false marketing and media claims, they are disillusioned into thinking they are eating healthy.
So, let’s talk about the foods we eat.
FACTORY FOODS. It can be difficult to find the proper foods in traditional supermarkets. When I hear the word “factory,” the first thing I envision is a large building or complex, with pipes taking chemicals in and tall stacks taking wastes and pollutants out. And, yes, it is very much like that, but if you can’t stop shopping in the big-box stores, then let’s at least do it with some skill and knowledge that will get you the best foods possible.
GMOs. Today, just about everything containing soy, wheat, and corn has been produced in an outdoor, manufactured way, with large cash crops being turned into GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Our bodies do not break down, digest, and utilize these foods efficiently, causing great stress and inflammation to the body. GMO foods get stored as fat. Look for GMO-free on the labels.
FARMS. Look for grass-fed beef, lamb, and bison, and free-range chicken, eggs, and pork, and consume only wildcaught fish. Animals that are allowed to roam, forage, and consume what they were biologically designed to eat provide us with more of the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids our bodies need to maintain a strong immune system, build muscle, burn fat, and be healthier, energetic, and more
vital and efficient.
ORGANIC & LOCAL. Is your produce grown organically or conventionally? Some argue that the difference in nutrients is minimal, so consider other factors. You can wash your produce and peel the skin, but what about the chemicals that are absorbed through the soil? I recommend you begin transitioning to eating organic produce, or at least local, where you know it was picked fresh and seasonal.
LOW-FAT DAIRY. Dairy is a highly processed food that is both inflammatory and high glycemic. This is due to the process of pasteurization and homogenization, which kills nutrients and damages the proteins and probiotics, and then needs to be fortified with synthetic man-made vitamins and minerals. Your body now recognizes this as an invader, causing inflammation and disruption in the digestive tract. Opt for raw or organic full-fat dairy, if you need to have it.
SOY. Another highly marketed food that has people brainwashed into thinking it’s a health food is soy. Not only is soy a neurotoxin, and most soy consumed is genetically modified, but it is also a component that mimics estrogen. This causes hormonal disruption. Unless soy is organic and fermented, it contains high levels of phytates, which act as mineral blockers.
GLUTEN-FREE. I am a big advocate of avoiding gluten whenever possible, even if you do not have celiac, because most products containing gluten have little or no nutritional value. Gluten also blocks the absorption of beneficial nutrients.
DRINKS. If you want to add quick pounds around your waist, start drinking your calories. Look at the label on sports drinks and juices and calculate the per-serving calories you are consuming. When drink labels say “electrolytes, minerals, vitamins, 100% fruit, and protein,” it usually means you are drinking pasteurized, sugar-added junk food. If it says low or zero calories, it’s even worse for you because it is all carbonated chemicals. And if it’s electrolytes you are looking for, just add a pinch of sea salt to your water. And drink water!
KEEP A DIARY. You’ll be surprised what foods you are eating, as well as what foods you are missing. Don’t trust labels…read the back of the packages, and avoid the front health claims.
You’ll be surprised what foods you are eating, as well as what foods you are missing This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being nutrition conscious, but the most important things to remember are: avoid highly processed foods; eat only humanely, sustainably raised animal products; and eat organic and local as much as possible. Take the challenge to learn more about the foods you eat, both for you and your family. Visit the local farmer’s markets; stop at roadside stands this summer; plant a garden; find local, organic farms; or buy your seafood off the docks. Remember, consumers have power—the more we raise our voices about the quality of the food we have to buy, the better our options will be.
Matt Espeut is the owner of Fitness Profiles, and has been a personal trainer for over 20 years, helping people from ages 14 to 89, become healthier and stronger. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning, with holistic health and nutrition as the cornerstone of his programs. He works in private and small group training He offers his services to overweight young people, youth/collegiate athletes, average women and men, and seniors. He can be reached at: [email protected] and at his website atwww.FitnessProfiles.net.