Long before I figured out a legitimate, sustainable healthy lifestyle for myself, I was the queen of yo-yo dieting.
It was pretty miserable. All of my focus was on my appearance — not how I felt. I was willing to do almost anything my body to be skinny… except actually stick to healthy habits, of course.
Her mission is to separate the facts from all the BS out there when it comes to health and food. As someone who encourages people to eat what’s best for their bodies and stop trying to diet, this is something I can get behind.
Here’s what we covered in this interview:
- Why Whole Foods is more of a health food club than a health food store
- How much your health and fitness goals affect what goes into your mouth
- Some trendy health ingredients that are total BS and not worth the hype
- Why simple cooking is better for you than anything you can buy in restaurants
Whether you’re a yo-yo dieter, cleanse addict or just want to learn how to start eating healthier, you’ll find something useful from Dr. Ihonor’s advice.
What are the most common misconceptions about healthy food?
I would say price. People often claim they “can’t afford to eat healthy,” but they’re often thinking of superfoods and gimmicky over-priced health foods instead of natural whole foods.
They’ll go for chocolate bars and McDonalds and claim that’s all they can afford, but in reality, foods like apples, water, vegetables and a piece of chicken are less expensive than fast food.
Another one is as healthy eating is so on-trend at the moment, there’s a level of elitism that goes on. Some people think being truly healthy involves nibbling on the worst tasting food you can find.
But healthy food can taste good! Salmon, sweet potatoes- in fact, most everyday foods can be healthy if you cook them in a certain way (think baking instead of deep frying) and combine them with other wholesome natural ingredients.
Looking for a holy grail – a magic bullet for all your health problems – is another common misconception.
I think humans by nature prefer quick fixes over putting in hard work. It often takes years of trying many fad diets and seeing first-hand that they don’t work in the long term before a person finally sees the light. It’s a process I think we all go through.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when starting to eat healthier and how can they fix it?
Going all out.
People try to do it all at once, it gets too difficult and they quit. They don’t realize the health idols, like Gwyneth Paltrow, aren’t healthy all the time.
People who try to go all out and cut out every last trace of sugar from their diets, for example, just end up feeling deprived and binging on sugar again a week later.
You have to do it gradually. This is why the 80/20 rule is so effective.
You have to give yourself permission to “cheat” because you know it’s going to happen anyway.
If someone wants to detox or cleanse to see quick results, what should they do instead?
It depends on why they want to do it.
I work one-on-one with clients and I’ll often put them on an elimination diet, which is a little like cleansing as it allows your body to have a break from potentially allergenic foods. You can see what your body truly does and doesn’t like to be fed. It is essentially a cleanse of processed foods.
However, I have a problem with the modern idea of cleansing and detoxing.
It’s not done to uncover food intolerances, instead it’s done to nullify decades of ridiculous eating behavior and instead of focusing on removing unhealthy foods from their diet.
Detoxers often focus on flooding their bodies with excessive amounts of juices and pseudoscientific concoctions. And at the end of the cleanse, they say they feel great and think it’s because of the product they bought. But they feel great because while they’ve been living off juice they’ve stopped eating processed food.
It’s not the detox product that made the difference at all. Instead of wasting money on a cleanse, just cut out processed foods and see how you feel.
How does “health food” you can buy from a restaurant compare to home cooked meals? Is buying the healthy prepared food actually better?
Whole Foods isn’t really that healthy. It’s filled with the latest trendy health foods, lots of celebrities are seen in there and this creates an essence of conspicuous consumption.
A huge part of it is being affiliated with that lifestyle -It’s more about being seen with the Whole Foods bag, so people think you’re healthy and you feel like part of the ‘healthy crowd’. Inside stores like Whole Foods you’ll find the same foods you find in fast food shops, like chicken wings, and fries.
Of course, there are also lots of extremely healthy foods, but when you watch how people eat them, you find it’s not as healthy as you think. Take the salad bar, for example. I often see people take a few leaves of salad and pour on lots of blue cheese dressing, and convince themselves they’re being healthy because they’re in that environment — but it’s not healthy at all.
Shopping at Whole Foods is like being part of the cool gang, it skews your perception.
I treat any meal I eat out as an indulgence. And when I do go out, I’m the worst. I give the waiting staff a hard time. I always ask, “what’s in this?”
And if they tell me something is sugar-free and I can taste sugar in it, I ask to see the labels. I don’t trust those foods at all.
The truth is a lot of the staff at restaurants don’t know exactly what’s in the food on offer in their restaurants, especially if it’s a chain restaurant where a lot of the food comes in prepackaged and pre-mixed.
They understand the main ingredients, but once you push them on things like sugar content, it quickly becomes clear they aren’t sure.
The only way to know what’s in your food is to cook it yourself.
Even places that claim to be “healthy” want you to come back, so they make their food taste good – and a quick way to do that is by adding sugar, sweeteners and chemicals like MSG. But if you want to know what’s in it, you have to ask.
What are some of your tips to make cooked food healthier than food bought at restaurants?
Keep cooking simple. Stock your fridge nicely with core ingredients.
A lot of people come home and say like, “I don’t have time to cook healthy” as if it takes forever. You can batch cook a couple of proteins like a whole chicken or some salmon fillets at the start of the week and divvy it up to eat through the week.
It’s a mix and match thing. If you’re prepared and have a variety of healthy foods at your disposal, that helps.
Variety is a big one. When my clients start eating healthier, they seem to want to eat the same thing over and over. I have to push them to try new things! Otherwise, after a week of eating quinoa and chicken for every meal they declare ‘healthy eating is boring’ and want to go back to the wide variety of junk foods they know.
We see so much variety in JUNKY and fatty food, but there’s less of a variety of healthy food. in shops. So you have to do a little more work to find recipes and make them.
What are the three most bogus trendy cooking ingredients people claim are healthy?
- Coconut oil. It’s a saturated fat! Too much of it isn’t good for you.
- This whole activated charcoal as a detox agent thing. It’s not safe, especially in these boutique fitness drinks you can buy. People just guzzle them thinking they’re detoxing. But it’s total nonsense.
- Kale. There’s nothing wrong with kale, but it has a massive health halo. You have so many other normal greens, like spinach that delivers more or less the same nutrients, but everyone acts like kale is better than the others. The difference between them is negligible.
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