Zia Hassan

The Jungle Of Nutrition

A few years ago, a routine doctor’s visit got me very interested in what I was eating to cause high cholesterol. Surely, my diet couldn’t have been that bad.

But it was. The area that I lived in was full of walkable restaurants, and most of them used dramatic amounts of oil, sugar, and salt in their foods. At the time, I didn’t cook much. We did get mealkit delivery, but this gave us three meals a week at most. The rest was all takeout and eating out.

When I decided to switch my way of eating, my first step was to figure out the best way to eat. If you’ve ever tried to figure out “the best way to eat,” then you know that there is a ton of conflicting advice. Some say that it’s best to eat low carb and high fat, some say low carb and high protein, some say it’s good to have a balance, some say you should avoid animal products, some say carbs are fine as long as they’re not processed… and the list goes on.

You could drive yourself mad with these suggestions. Not only are the diet suggestions abundant and diverse, but they’re also backed by studies and licensed doctors.

The commonality between all of these diets, though, is that processed and refined foods have no nutritional value and adverse affects on your body. If there’s any agreed upon “best way of eating,” it’s that.

You could watch, over the next 50 years, the popularity of many diets come and go. The paleo diet turned into the ketogenic diet, which turned into the carnivore diet, and so on. Vegetarian craze became the vegan craze which became the whole foods plant based craze. There are important things to learn from each movement, but to become a religious zealot around one of these ways of eating might cause us to forget the reason that we eat in the first place: nourishment.

Yes, nourishment, both physically and emotionally. For a few months, I ate a salad in a jar every day. The ingredients were tasty on their own, but there was way too much in the jar. I didn’t realize that salads are tastier when they’re simplistic.

Also, eating with people, or cooking for people, is part of what makes food so wonderful. Mindful eating, or concentrating on the eating process instead of mindlessly shoving food bits into your mouth, can help us nourish our relationships as well.

I don’t know what the answer to healthy eating is, and I probably never will. But for now, my method is a mix of intuition (if it feels healthy, perhaps it is), mindfulness (I am conscious of every bite), and nutrition (food that is high in micronutrients, with very little removed).