The word “diet” has never had a positive connotation for me, and truthfully, I’ve successfully resisted following any special diet most of my life. What has worked best for me most recently was making a life change in my eating habits and paying more attention to ingredients, food labels and food sources. There are many trendy diets today that want people to eliminate foods. I’m neither a proponent or opposer of these diets — one positive that I see is that they create more awareness around food, bringing attention to ingredients, labels, etc. and encouraging people to cook more at home — all positives in my opinion.
Recently I learned that a friend was going to do a Whole30 challenge. She is an avid home cook, and I didn’t think that this would necessarily be a big challenge for her. For those that aren’t familiar with “Whole30,” it’s a trendy elimination diet that eliminates sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. By doing this, it’s said that people experience more energy, less aches and pains and helps some lose weight. According to whole30.com, it can also help people with “skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or chronic pain.”
My friend is very analytical and was doing her research to prepare her pantry before she and her husband started this diet in March. She learned to make non-dairy cheese from cashews and prepared sauces that she often bought pre-made. She was surprised to find so many foods in her pantry that contained sugar, especially common condiments, such as ketchup. By eliminating legumes (this includes peanuts), that meant no peanut butter, and soy, so soy sauce was out.
If you’re accustomed to buying most foods in a bag, box or other packaged container, unless it’s fresh vegetables, there’s a high probability that it contains some form of corn, soy, sugar or preservative often in an undisguised term such “lecithin,” a by-product of soy, or the numerous terms for corn or sugar that one can find searching the internet.
Personally, I don’t avoid sugar in our household, but by making most of our food from scratch, I can at least control the amount and type of sugar used in the foods that we eat on a regular basis. For example, by making homemade chicken broth — yes, sugar is number four on Swanson’s chicken broth label — we avoid unnecessary sugar in a food that isn’t even sweet. And making sweets at home, I decide how sweet they’re going to be.
Being more aware of food and where it comes from is the first step to becoming a healthier society. Choices exist. We decide what goes into our bodies. Consider eating food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Start and end your day with real food. Don’t focus so much on eliminating food, focus on adding more healthy food to your lifestyle.
Tiffany Tripp is co-owner of Graise Farm, founder of Faribault Winter Farmers Market and admirer of all things local. Reach her at email@example.com.