A person who bought a new car and drove it out of the showroom without knowing what it ran on would probably not be your candidate for making a good decision. You are doing the same thing if you do not know what your body needs to function well.
I decided to do this post because of a joke. Sometimes I joke about chocolate being one of the basic food groups. I discovered that people really believed that it is one. I can agree with the sentiment, but not the information. In this blog post I wish to help you learn what your body needs to run on. Experts agree that there are a set of basic food groups. They don't all agree what these basic food groups are. They all get the same foods into their basics. They just arrange them differently and differ on how much of each you need.
The USDA used to have food arranged in a pyramid, they still have some pictures of this around. They are trying to switch to MyPlate instead. USDA site about MyPlate The groups are fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. How much you eat of each group depends on what you want to achieve with your eating. Examples of what you might want to achieve with your eating are weight loss and muscle development for athletes. People who want to lose weight usually eat less fats, sugars and carbohydrates. More detailed site on nutrition
You can eat less fats by cutting back on oils, fatty meats, drinking low fat milk and low fat cheese and low fat yogurt. I like to substitute low fat yogurt for dairy that is much higher in fat like cream cheese or sour cream. It is easy to thicken yogurt by draining liquids out of it by placing it in a strainer or on several layers of cheesecloth and letting the liquids drip into a container. You can use the nutritious liquids from the yogurt in soups. That is a way to get used to the change from cream cheese or sour cream.
Most desserts have a lot of sugar in them. You can look at the label on them and see how much sugar they have in them. If it does not have a label, you can look at the links in my previous post about exercise to stop holiday weight gain and find the calories in the food.
A lot of sugar in your coffee or tea can add up to more calories than everything you eat and get you fat in no time. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners because studies show that people who use them regularly usually gain back any weight lost within a year. They have also been shown to be related to cancer. http://www.foodpolitics.com/tag/artificial-sweeteners/
Honey is one of my solutions to this problem. Honey has the same number of calories per teaspoon as sugar, but it has three to five times the sweetening power, so you can use 1/3 to 1/5 the amount of honey as you would sugar and get the same sweetness. Stevia powder is 16 times as sweet as sugar, so I use it some. When I cook with it I use half sugar and half stevia powder- that is using a brand that adds bulk to the stevia powder so that it has the same volume as the sweetening power in an equal volume of sugar. In other words, if you need 2 cups of sugar you can use 1 cup of stevia powder and 1 cup of sugar. You really need to know what you are doing if you completely substitute stevia powder for sugar because sugar does other things besides sweeten in a recipe and you have to allow for all those changes as well. I mostly don't risk it. There are plenty of sites on the internet for recipes low in calories.
For those who don't know, stevia is an herb and a tiny bit of it sweetens as much as a lot of sugar. It is hard to calculate how much to use in a recipe because you have to account for the difference in bulk between the stevia and the sugar. I only use straight stevia powder in things like dry cereal and milk, coffee or tea.
Now for carbohydrates. There are a lot of fad diets that cut out carbohydrates entirely. I do not like them, unless you are using a nutritionist. They can cause you to start burning up parts of your body that you will need later, and I think they are dangerous. I do not think they work well either, but cause people to go off their diets entirely and even gain weight instead of losing.
My favorite approach to carbohydrates in weight loss is to simply change the kind of carbohydrates I eat. I stopped eating refined carbohydrates (carbohydrates that have had a lot of unhealthy stuff done to them,) and eat complex carbohydrates, like potatoes and whole grains, instead. People often think of potatoes as fattening, but that is only because of all the fattening things people usually put on them. This is where I especially like to use low fat yogurt to replace the fattening stuff. When I had more weight to lose, I used to put butter substitute powder from the grocery store on the potato and low fat yogurt. I also use fresh basil from my greenhouse. Sometimes I put legumes and vegetables on the potato instead. When you are creative, you won't miss the fattening stuff as much.
I am heartily sick of writing about weight loss, etc. by now but have one more bit to tackle on the subject before I move on to other things. Aboriginal people are not ready for refined foods. If you have genes from an aboriginal people, refined foods will make you very sick and probably kill you early. I wish to write about this next, and then I believe I will begin to write about ways to cut back on your living expenses.