What is “Good” Food?

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Since it’s long overdue, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. At worst, it’s a homework assignment for anyone who cares, and at best I hope it’s a resource for any and everyone who wants to overhaul their dietary choices to maximize energy levels and health.

Before I make it complicated, I’ll suggest everyone pick up Michael Pollan’s easy-to-read (on the toilet!) book, Food Rules. Its most parroted line goes like this:

“Eat food. mostly plants. not too much.”

When you get ready to cook (or, in Chicago as it oft happens, order) always try to go for the most nutrient-dense stuff. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore, people will argue over what “Nutrient-Dense” means, but I’ll recommend you start with vegetables, high-quality animal products/proteins, high-quality fats, and some fruit.

But it might not be that simple.

A few points before I start linking all sorts of homework for you (the two of you who read these!) to check out:

  • If you want to know why the Standard American Diet (SAD) is what it is/has been, read up on Ancel Keys, the Lipid Hypothesis, the McGovern Report, Saturated Fat, and why all of that is wrong.
  • I don’t care if you eat/are “Paleo.” I’m not here to sell any ideology to anybody, unless it’s about strength training. I haven’t the time, energy, or education.
  • But for most people, I’m convinced a move towards Paleo would be an improvement.

There’s a great piece on moving beyond a “Paleo Diet” towards a “Paleo Template” written by Chris Kresser. I’d recommend reading it to understand why I’m convinced that it’s the best place to start for people who know they need a dietary overhaul.

By far the best user-friendly/simple resources for food choices that I’ve found are from Dianne Sanfilippo over at BalancedBites.com. The site is full of great info, but if you want a place to start, I’d recommend her easy-to-follow food guides: (PDF Warnings!)

  • Food Quality
  • “Paleo” Foods
  • “Paleo” Carbs (since, you know, Paleo is “Macro”-agnostic, and not necessarily low-carb.)
  • Guide to Fats & Oils
  • Cooking Fats

And although I’m not 100% “Paleo” (as many of you know, I like beer too much, among other things), I would also recommend her more-than-just-a-Cook-Book, Practical Paleo. Whatever dietary dogma you decide to subscribe to, this book is awesome. It talks about food, has step-by-step instructions (for those of us – like me – who are mildly cooking challenged), and it even talks about poop!

Beyond those, I’m going to put another plug out there for Examine.com. It’s a great resource for many Frequently Asked Questions, like “Are eggs healthy?” And “will eating eggs increase my cholesterol?

One more thing: This expresses my (Chad’s) opinion, and may not reflect the opinion of Dan, Ron, or Collin. But I’m interested in this stuff – enough to write a little about it because, yes, we do get asked. While I’ve never met anyone who’s taken grains out entirely and said, “Man, I just don’t feel better,” I don’t care if you go “Paleo.” I don’t even like saying “Paleo.”

But you guys ask about food. So there’s (the start of) my answer. Done right, I think the old saying is true:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

I think it was Michael Scott that said that. Might be wrong.