It's hard sometimes, even for a health professional like myself, not to give in to the pretty pictures, amazing testimonials and witty memes online regarding "superfoods." But I have to say, at least in hearing about them from the many people that talk about them in my practice, or the many calls/Facebook messages I get each week about the next big thing, I simply have to say...it's a start...
Yes, there are a lot of powerfoods out there. I'm a HUGE fan of nutrition and it is the basis of my practice. But we also have to use common sense. Just because you swallow an ounce or 2 of a delightful, vitamin-packed fruit or veggie juice each morning does not mean you are getting all the touted benefits IF you are not reflecting those same nutritional choices throughout the rest of your day.
Now don't get me wrong...I may be a naturopathic doctor, but I am also human! Everything that graces my plate is not always the perfect choice, but when you primarily focus on the healthier choices, moderation can be just as healthy. Recently, I posted a picture of one of my healthier pizza choices -
This simple and DELICIOUS mix of flatbread, a Roma tomato, fresh basil, whole milk mozzarella and olive oil is 439 calories (according to FitDay.com's nutritional analysis) and half the carbohydrates (yet almost double the fiber) of 2 slices of a popular pizza chain's 14" cheese pizza that totals about 542 calories.
I'm not in denial here...it's still pizza! But the choices significantly differ. Plus, I made it myself (other than the flatbread) so I knew what was going into my food.
It may seem like tiny changes, but those tiny changes add up and can make significant changes in whole health. Especially for the many who eat fast food/food chain meals daily - think of the money saved! Think of the HEALTH saved!
Many people say "it costs too much to eat healthy," or "I don't have time to cook," and it sure is easy to feel that way. This is when I try to encourage people on the little changes like I made here - this meal took me 7 minutes to make and costs approximately $2. WAY cheaper and faster than any pizza chain, or even most frozen pizzas.
Changing your diet is a HUGE step in bettering your health and it can be overwhelming. Which is why I focus on the little changes that can help you rather than getting a false sense of health from taking a shot or pill of something each morning. Yes, it's better than nothing I suppose, especially if you are nutrient deficient and the only real nutrition you are getting is from that superfood. But the fact is, if we ate the right kinds of foods and lived healthy lifestyles for the most part, we should be getting better effects than eating a chocolate bar each day that has a superfood in it.
I am not anti-superfood, in fact, I am a HUGE fan of quinoa, chia seeds, pomegranate, kale and the like. But imagine the power they have when you add them to an already healthy diet and lifestyle! I actually had a patient once tell me he was eating healthier and after some discussion, realized that meant he started sprinkling chia seeds on his fast food and pizzas because he read that it was "heart healthy." I applauded him for at least incorporating something into his diet and then educated him on the heart damaging effects of his current diet, even with the chia seeds. It took several months, but gradually he was able to incorporate little changes that really added up! All it took was some education and motivation on better choices which is what I'm here for. Baby steps is all it takes so don't feel guilty if you indulge. Just make up for it with your next meal.
So, next time you see a new superfood that claims miracles, try adding it to your meal repertory and let it inspire supermeals. There is no magic pill or magic potion but you can make a huge difference with baby steps each day. Your energy levels, sleep, mood, weight and overall health will thank you for it!