How To Make Something Bad Out Of Something Good

I get so many good questions from my patients about things they should and shouldn’t eat.

Whether it’s during a regular visit or one of our “Fundamental Food” dinners that we have on a Thursday night each month, I see people struggling with food nearly every day. There are so many misconceptions being floated around as truth in the media that it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s just plain fiction.

That’s why I like to dedicate Wednesday’s blog to nutrition and overall wellness. Thus, “Wellness Wednesdays.”

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I shared this graphic:

Nutrition Mistakes

Honestly, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read these. But I can talk about them here, and in a way, it’s therapeutic for me.

I want to look at item #2 today: “Assuming a food that’s called ‘healthy’ can be eaten to abandon.”

Wow. I see this all the time.

Sometimes, the problem is not what you eat, but how much. And in our over-abundant American culture, overeating is a national pass-time. But is it possible to eat too much healthy food? Can you overdo salad? Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Here are a couple of examples that come to mind:

Good: Nuts are very good for you, especially walnuts, almonds, and pecans.

Bad: Eating a bag of nuts a day will plump up your spare tire quickly.

Good: Eggs have 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.

Bad: If you eat three of them every morning, you are likely to develop a sensitivity to them.

Good: Wine has been found to have some valuable digestive benefits.

Bad: Too much wine will…well, I think we know what happens when we overindulge in wine.

Women’s Health shared this tidbit:

“You’ve got to be careful to not overindulge with [oranges and tomatoes], those delicious but highly acidic summer staples, says Gina Sam, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital. The increased acid intake associated with eating too many oranges or tomatoes can lead to reflux. Over an extended period of time, this can cause Barrett’s Esophagus, a disorder in which precancerous lesions form on esophageal lining. Sam suggests sticking to no more than two servings of oranges or tomatoes a day and avoiding these foods altogether if you already have symptoms of reflux.”

So, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

I’ve had patients say to me, “I don’t understand it, I’ve switched from junk food to healthier snacks, but I still can’t seem to lose weight.” What they neglect to mention is that, while they switched from regular chips to fat-free chips, they are still eating the whole bag. (And honestly, the fat-free food industry is one of the biggest lies in America. Don’t even get me started.)

Switching your snack is a good idea. Eliminating bored-eating and emotional-eating is a better idea.

Granola is better than Froot Loops, to be sure, but downing three bowls of either will cause problems over time.

Fresh fruit is wonderful, but it’s high in sugar. It’s better than refined sugar, but it’s still sugar and it can still upset your insulin balance if you binge on it.

It All Adds Up

Anything you get out of balance will end up hurting you, even if it’s really healthy otherwise. Your body will develop a sensitivity over time. This is where I see a lot of gluten intolerance, peanut intolerance, and so forth. Your gut starts to treat it like a foreign invader.

Like everything else in life, moderation is the key. Some people think giving up a certain food cold turkey is the hardest kind of discipline, but in my experience, it takes much more discipline to maintain self-control when you allow yourself a little of something. Can you eat just one piece of pie? One slice of pizza? One piece of chicken?

Now, obviously a huge bowl of lettuce is less objectionable than a huge bowl of pasta, but my point remains.

Balance.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas

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