by Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.
This simple answer is: EAT FOOD. However, this recommendation is not quite as simple as it sounds. It used to be food that was all you could eat, but today there are thousands of edible food-like substances in the supermarket. This is where it gets very confusing and overwhelming for those on the quest to have a “healthy diet.”
This confusion about food has fueled the perceived notion that it’s necessary to consult many resources on how to conduct this most basic question of survival. Michael Pollen, author of many books about food asks, “What other animal needs professional help in deciding what it should eat?”
This fairly bold statement rings true for the present day disagreement on largely guided by our culture. Our ancestors knew what, when, and how much to eat by observing and being taught by their families, specifically their mothers. In the last few decades we have lost this valuable guidance from our culture and have begun to rely on the scientists, nutritionist, governments, and ever-shifting dietary guidelines. This has led to present day meals that faintly resemble what our grandmothers served.
Diet tends to be a very tricky subject to speak on, ranking closely to other taboo subjects like politics and religion. That’s not so in Chinese medicine, where one of the main principles is that food is your first medicine. This belief puts a strong importance on the content of what you put in your mouth, but what should that be. As Americans, we are bombarded by loads of conflicting information, colorful advertising, neighborly advice, proper/improper body images, ect. We invest our money in a wide range of products (vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and diet pills, ect.) Our stomachs, eyes, convenience and pocket books often pull us in different directions. And, through all this, Americans continue to be some of the least healthy individuals in the developed world.