Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.
― Michael Pollan,
Nutrition is confusing. Everyone has an opinion, and the rules always seem to change. Yet, it is vital to longevity, health, mental and physical performance, and looking good naked. Fortunately, the basics of good nutrition are simple, and you probably already know them well. However, there is a big difference between knowing nutritional basics and following nutritional basics. More on that to come.
First, a review of what you already know. Junk food is bad for you. Minimizing it in your diet is the most effective way to improve nutrition with the least amount of effort. Maximum marginal gain, minimum marginal cost. These are things like:
- sugary drinks: soda, sugary coffee drinks, “fruit juice” cocktails, anything else with added sugar or high fructose corn syrup
- sweets: cookies, cake, pie, brownies, donuts, candy, Twinkies…
- salty snacks: chips, cheese puffs, Cheese-Its, Cheetos, etc
- fast food
- processed food-like substances: frozen dinners, microwave meals, Hot Pockets, etc
We know these things are unhealthy and fattening, but many of us keep right on eating them. While there are many reasons for that dissonance, most of them come down to lack of mindfulness about what we’re eating. We grab chips when we’re bored; we eat ice cream when we’re sad; we grab a soda with lunch. We aren’t choosing these foods in most cases, and if we took a moment before consuming them to be aware of our decision-making process, we’d probably do something different.
If you’re interested in improving your nutrition for any purpose, before moving on to advanced strategies or fad diets, apply a little focused awareness to your decisions about food. Simply becoming aware of the choices you’re making can make a world of difference.