healthy eating – the research

We all strive to eat healthy, right? It’s good for us. The problem is that it is such a vague concept. You feel like you don’t really know where to start, what is healthy and what is not and why is healthy food good for us while pizza is not?
I’ve been planning to “eat better” for years without much success. So I decided to really tackle this as a project late last year and just get down to it and do my research.
I took a day off to cram as much research about food and eating in it as I possibly could and hopefully end up with a plan. The good news is, I did and it was not even that hard! I’m going to share with you what I found out and what I changed in my diet.
This is my personal experience. This isn’t going to be a book and I’m not an expert so I strongly encourage you to do your own research since I will try to keep this short and sweet ­čśë
healthy eating, a plan.
The first thing I found out is that there literally is no general definition of healthy eating. What is good and healthy for a person is a very individual thing. There are government issued guidelines but they change and evolve over time.
There are so many different ideas and diets out there and they all tell us they are the one way to eat to be healthy. Vegan, paleo, Atkins…just to name a few and there are so many more. I got very confused.
Whenever I get confused I try to structure my information. I made a chart and jotted down which foods all (or almost all) sources agreed were healthy or not healthy and which foods seemed to be controversial. This is my list:
—————————————————————————-
GOOD:
Vegetables, fruit, water, herbs, roots, nuts, good fats and oils, fish, meat (if organic and consumed in moderation). Eating as much food raw as possible.

CONTROVERSIAL:
Grain, dairy products, legumes, eggs, coffein, alcohol. Cooking foods.

BAD:
Sugar in any form, additives, bad fats and oils
—————————————————————————-

That seems a lot more manageable, right?
healthy eating, a plan.
I did want to know why some products were bad or highly controversial, such as grains and sugar and certain fats. Here’s where again I strongly encourage you to do your own research (share your sources in the comments!) since I did most of my research on german language sites and will be keeping this very short. If you would like my list of german language sources let me know.

SUGAR
Sugar is present naturally in lots of sources, especially as fructose (fruit sugar). When we eat an apple it contains sugar, but this sugar is attached to lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The body can really get to work breaking those down and using them, releasing the contained sugar slowly. Our blood sugar level rises slowly, inducing the gradual release of insulin to transport that sugar to our cells to be used as energy.
When we eat refined sugar (pure sugar which is not attached to anything valuable like fiber) we’re basically flooding our body with so much sugar that it can’t really deal with it all. Our blood sugar level soares way too quickly and lots of insulin is produced which results in a blood sugar level crash again. We are really throwing our body processes off balance continually.
Eating lots of refined sugar can thus lead to permanently confused insulin processes and in turn, diabetes. As I said, I’m keeping this veeerry simple.
What is more, tumor cells love sugar. Empirical research suggests that consuming sugar in the way we do in the western world dramatically incresases cancer rates. Animal research suggests that sugar is also responsible for a range of other negative effects.

GRAINS
Grains are controversial. Whole grain flours contain fiber, minerals, vitamins, micronutrients and unsaturated fats. White flour however has lost most of these nutrients, so what remains are empty carbohydrates which in turn are absorbed way too quickly by our bodies and make our blood sugar levels soar too quickly and unnaturally (see sugar). The starch and gluten get sticky and acidic when digested and can cause problems with the digestion for some people from bloating to serious bowel inflammation.
Some sources also mention that all the good stuff even in whole grain flours and products can be found in greater quantities in fruit and vegetables and advise to quit grains altogether.

FATS
I won’t go into this in great biological detail but fats and oils are not all bad. The right ones help us absorb vitamins, protect our organs and even help our blood flow better. Good for us are unsaturated fats and oils, such as walnut, rape seed, soy and linseed oil. Some are better used cold (like olive oil) because heat damages their good properties. Rape seed oil is recommended for cooking as it can stand the heat better.
Saturated fats are present in animal products like butter and cream. They are usually solid at room temperature and should only be consumed in moderation as they bump up our blood cholesterol levels. Industrial food products such as chips should be avoided completely because the hardened fats in them are much worse than other saturated fats like butter.

That doesn’t sound so hard at all does it? After my day of research the picture has grown a lot clearer and while I will probably never understand the biological intricacies in detail, the general direction is clear.
The boyfriend was impressed by this compilation as well and we have made an effort to incorporate these findings in our daily eating habits for the last few weeks. As this post is already very long, there’ll be another one one detailing what simple changes we have made and how it has affected us.
I hope to also share some recipes and tipps for healthy eating with you throughout the year. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section, I’d love to know what you think of this and if you struggle with eating better too!

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16 thoughts on “healthy eating – the research

  1. Stefanie Neumann

    Du sagtest ja anfangs, dass gesunde Ern├Ąhrung etwas sehr individuelles ist. Das ist auch meine Erfahrung. Deshalb h├Âre ich auch immer genau auf meinen K├Ârper – besonders, wenn ich eine neue Ern├Ąhrungsweise ausprobiere.

    So funktioniert Rohkost als grunds├Ątzliche Ern├Ąhrung (Rohkostler) f├╝r mich zum Beispiel gar nicht (jedenfalls derzeit), stellt aber eine wichtige und leckere Erg├Ąnzung in meiner Ern├Ąhrung dar.

    Vor vielen Jahren habe ich begonnen, langsam auf Biolebensmittel umzustellen. Mittlerweile kaufe immer Bio, wenn ich die Wahl habe (und die habe ich fast immer). Auf einmal schmecken Pilze wieder wie Pilze und Gurken wie Gurken, besonders wenn ich gute Bioqualit├Ąt kaufe – denn auch da gibt es Unterschiede.
    Mit der Bioern├Ąhrung kam auch mehr Gewahrsamkeit f├╝r die Sache mit dem Zucker. Es stimmt dass viele Lebensmittel von Natur aus Zucker enthalten und das empfindet mein K├Ârper auch als viel ges├╝nder.
    Raffinierten Zucker habe ich seit Jahren schon nicht mehr im Haus. Rohr- und Rorohrzucker, Honig und Ahornsirup werden in Ma├čen konsumiert (au├čer zu den Feiertagen, da ist es schon Mal etwas mehr…).

    Vor einigen Jahren habe ich mal vegetarische Ern├Ąhrung ausprobiert und gemerkt, dass es mir pers├Ânlich damit viel besser geht. Daher hole ich mir meine Eiwei├čportion schon regelm├Ą├čig unter Anderem ├╝ber H├╝lsenfr├╝chte und Getreide. Was ich zum Thema Getreide beitragen kann ist Folgendes:
    Es gibt Studien dar├╝ber, dass unser modernes Getreide ganz andere Eigenschaften hat und viel schlechter bek├Âmmlich sein soll, als das sogenannte Urgetreide. Das ist vielleicht auch mal einen n├Ąheren Blick wert. Aus meiner pers├Ânlichen Erfahrung kann ich sagen, dass Kamut, Einkorn und Dinkel f├╝r mich definitiv bek├Âmmlicher sind als unser moderner Weizen.

    Schlie├člich habe ich dann auch endlich rausgefunden, was mir das gr├Â├čte regelm├Ą├čige Unwohlsein bereitete. Das sind n├Ąmlich Milchprodukte, da ich offenbar allergisch bin. So eine Allergie bleibt ├╝brigens oft unerkannt, es lohnt sich also, wenn man bestimmte Probleme hat, einfach mal f├╝r eine Weile auszuprobieren, wie es ohne Milch geht.

    Im Grunde genommen ist gesunde Ern├Ąhrung f├╝r mich ein fortlaufeder, sich immer wandelnder Prozess, denn der K├Ârper ver├Ąndert sich ja auch laufend. Als ich 14 war, ging es f├╝r mich zum Beispiel gar nicht ohne Fleisch. Mit 30 f├╝hlte es sich dann genau richtig an.

    Jedenfalls freue ich mich darauf, mehr ├╝ber Deine Erfahrungen zu lesen und auch auf die Rezepte!

    Danke f├╝r den sch├Ânen Beitrag und sorry f├╝r den langen Kommentar. (Es ist ein interessantes Thema!)

    Lieben Gru├č,
    Steffi

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    1. Kristina

      Hi Steffi, danke dir! Spannend zu lesen, was du f├╝r dich umgestellt hast, das h├Ârt sich n├Ąmlich alles sehr bekannt an f├╝r mich…ich habe auch herausgefunden, dass ich auf Milch verzichten muss und mir ganz genau anschauen muss, welches Getreide ich verzehre. Als Zuckerersatz schmeckt mir Agavendicksaft ganz gut!
      Wir kaufen soweit m├Âglich alles beim Bauern um die Ecke, der ist zwar nicht bio, hat aber alles frisch da. Die Biosachen im Supermarkt sind bei uns immer aus der halben Welt herbeigekarrt und schon halb um. Ich werde noch einen ausf├╝hrlichen Post schreiben, was wir umgestellt haben bzw. woran wir arbeiten. Ich kann aber jetzt schon sagen, dass es mir wie dir deutlich besser geht, wenn ich darauf achte, was mein K├Ârper will und wie er auf bestimmte Nahrung reagiert!

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      1. Stefanie Neumann

        Hi Kristina!

        Willkommen im Club! ­čśë Ist eine spannende Entdeckungsreise, wenn man den Bed├╝rfnissen eines sensiblen K├Ârpersystems folgt, oder?

        Das mit dem Einkaufen von regionalen Nahrungsmitteln ist auch ein wichtiger Punkt. Viele kleinere Landwirtschaftsbetriebe k├Ânnen es sich nicht leisten, ein Biozertifikat zu erwerben, bauen aber trotzdem naturnah – also so gut wie Bio – an.
        Ich lebe ja in Hamburg. In so einer gro├čen Stadt gibt es nicht immer einen Bauern um die Ecke. Es gibt aber Lieferservices von Biobauern aus der Region und wir haben einen gew├Ąhlt, der ganz in der N├Ąhe ist. Auch sammle ich ├╝ber das Jahr gerne ein paar Wildkr├Ąuter (nur die, welche ich sicher bestimmen kann), als sehr nahrhafte Erg├Ąnzung in unserer K├╝che.
        Agavendicksaft ist nat├╝rlich auch in Puncto Rohkost eine sehr gute Wahl! ­čÖé (Ist nur irgendwie nicht ganz so mein.)

        Auf gute Gesundheit und viel Spa├č beim Entdecken! Ich freue mich auf weitere sch├Âne Fotos und Erfahrungsberichte von Dir.

        Alles Liebe,
        Steffi

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  2. Lou

    Such a great post! I’ve been researching the same information for nearly a year now, I’ve watched 2 doco’s which I highly recommend! (‘fat, sick and nearly dead’ and ‘forks over knives’). It has been a bit hard for me at times as my partner took a while to get to the same level of thinking about food. I was drinking green smoothies and he was eating a packet of chips with a coke! We have both come a long way over the last year. One great change I’ve made is using coconut oil to cook with, it has a great flavor and can also be used on your skin and in your hair!!

    I have 2 food goals for the next 6 months, try a 21 day sugar detox (starting very soon!) and go dairy free for a month. I’m planning on keeping a type of food/health diary to document how my energy levels are, how my skin changes, how i feel etc etc. Hopefully the detox/experiments will turn into habits too!!

    Good on you for doing your research, it’s definitely hard to know ‘what is right’!! But you do feel so much better for doing it! I look forward to reading about your changes and how they go!!

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    1. Kristina

      Thanks, Lou! I’ll have to look up the documentaries! It’s definitely easier when your partner is on board and you can make your choices together. I think a complete sugar detox would be very hard for me, I’m curious how it will go for you!

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      1. Lou

        I’m curious too, and a bit scared since I have such a sweet tooth haha!! I’m planning on writing a post soon about ‘food’, you have inspired me!!

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  3. Erin

    I try to eat healthy too, although I don’t always succeed. I like your classification of good controversial and bad. Makes it easier to decide on what to eat, though temptation gets the better of me most of the time ­čÖé

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    1. Kristina

      Thanks, Erin! That’s what I like about the classification as well, it’s not very scientific or detailed but it does give you a general idea of where to start and what to choose. Good luck fighting temptation ­čÖé

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  4. Lindsay

    Love this posts. I agree, healthy eating is an individual process, but there does seem to be a few recurring patterns about types of foods and processes that are more problematic for people than others. Personally, I think I’ve finally found a way to eat that really works well for me (mostly paleo), but sticking to it can be difficult sometimes. Before I started trying to eat healthy, I had no idea how incredibly addicted to sugar I was. I can go weeks without it, but the minute I eat something loaded with sugar, I have to deal with the cravings all over again.

    Anyway, good luck! Can’t wait for your next posts on the subject. ­čÖé

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    1. Kristina

      Hi Lindsay, it’s great that you’ve found what works best for you! I really think everyone needs to find out for themselves as each body works differently. That doesn’t make it easier to stick to it when you’re hungry and those fries look so damn good ­čśë I’ve always assumed I was completely addicted to sugar as well but since I started drastically reducing my sugar intake I hardly get cravings at all, I’m suprised myself. For me it works better to allow me a small piece of chocolate a day than to try to stay away completely. But there you go, every body works differently ­čÖé

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