The Power (and Confusion) of Food

05.14.21 |

Each week, the Habits of Health community focuses on a different topic, and I try to match these blogs with those themes as well. If you’re not a part of this community yet, we’d love to have you. Here’s where to join.

This week, we’ve been talking about portion control strategies, such as learning to estimate visually how much of a food constitutes a serving and tricks like using a 9 inch plate instead of a 12 inch plate to make you less likely to overeat.

But let’s zoom out from portions to talk about fueling choices in general because there is a lot of confusion about what foods to eat well before you have to decide your portion sizes. And that confusion also clouds the true benefits of healthy fuelings.

Finding the Truth in a Sea of Diet Advice

One criticism of current diet advice is that it really doesn’t help people distinguish between healthy and unhealthy choices. One group is vilifying sugar and another is saying that high fat is the problem. The advice doesn’t consistently discourage the consumption of red meats high in saturated fats or encourage the use of health-enhancing oils. It gives equal classification to energy-giving whole-grain products and health-robbing refined grains found in many processed foods.

The Habits of Health Transformational System, however, teaches you to replace the processed foods with healthy foods that have a powerful healing effect on your body. By choosing healthy foods from the designated major food groups in our color-coded system (check out page 238 of Dr. A’s Habits of Health for more), you will have a simple system to always be able to choose the healthiest options. This will allow you to tap into the natural ability of nutrient-dense foods to actually improve the health of your cells, thereby putting you in an ideal state to shed excess weight while moving you from non-sickness to optimal health.

Food vs. Medicine

Nutritional intervention as lifestyle physicians like myself have come to define it, is a much more powerful medicine than any pharmaceutical I’ve ever seen.

In my 20 years as a critical care physician, I never saw one of my medications create radiant health but, over the last 17 years, we have seen that by providing nutritional intervention we can witness the almost miraculous reversal of multiple unhealthy conditions.

With this perspective, I hope you are starting to see the power of food. We aren’t just counting calories. We are picking the foods that fuel optimal wellbeing. The recommendations we make around food are based on decades of nutritional and medical research, looking at how food can resolve pre-obesity, high insulin levels, and other unhealthy states without dangerous side effects. At the same time, we seek out the foods and fueling habits that have been found to influence longevity.

How to Take Control of Your Fueling Habits

The takeaway here is not that you should immediately stop your medications in favor of healthy foods. In fact, do not make any changes to your current lifestyle or routine without first consulting your healthcare provider. Instead, I hope that you can start to see the potential rewards you can unlock by choosing healthier foods. This takes practice, and having a coach in your corner can make it easier, but over time you can transform your diet and reap the rewards.

Our color-coded shopping system (page 238 of Dr. A’s Habits of Health) makes the process of choosing foods simple and painless, and knowing just how powerful food can be will help you make those choices as well.