Two of the most important fundamentals of good nutrition are food quality and food quantity.

The quality of your food is extremely important. While it is possible to lose weight on a diet of oreos and twinkies as long as you keep your calorie count down, it won’t result in optimal health. (Side note: think about health as the motivator when making nutritional decisions, not necessarily weight. While most people want lose weight, this goal can be attained in some very unhealthy ways). Focusing on food quality will help your body function the way it’s supposed to, leading to a healthier and happier you. 

My basic rule of thumb for food quality is this: focus on choosing the most natural foods as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean foods that say natural on the label. This means choosing foods in their simplest form. Minimally processed foods. Single-ingredient foods. Foods like sweet potatoes and apples and rice and broccoli and beef and chicken. Foods that came out of the ground that way or off of an animal that way. These are the foods your body was designed to eat. They have fiber and nutrients and vitamins and minerals. They take work to chew and digest. They fill you up. 

When you focus on the food quality, the food quantity naturally falls into place. How? When you give your body the nutrients it needs, it does a really good job at regulating hunger signals and cues. When you eat vegetables and meat and all of those single-ingredient, fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods, your body will tell you when it has had enough. It’s actually quite challenging to over-eat when you’re consistently taking in the foods your body wants and needs. If, on the other hand, you decide to eat a package of oreos, you’re not giving your body the nutrients it needs, you’re taking in lots of calories, and it only makes you hungrier and hungrier. This will happen with any food that is extremely palatable and low in nutrients. This is why when you start eating poorly, it’s very hard to stop. Give your body what it wants. 

Another common question is this: “Does poor food quality or poor food quantity dictate negative health effects and possible weight gain?”

Carrying excess body fat alone, regardless of what the individual ate to gain the weight, is a huge risk for adverse health complications. Individuals with body fat levels in the extremes are likely to have serious health problems that reduce life expectancy and threaten their quality of life.

Obese individuals have a higher relative risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, dyslipidemia, hypertension, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, obstructive pulmonary disease, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and cancers of the colon, esophagus, gallbladder, and endometrium.

HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART. Obesity is independently associated with coronary heart disease, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, and menstrual irregularities. What causes obesity? Overconsumption.

What does this mean for us?

It’s really hard to pinpoint that one specific food is the culprit of our problems. Rather, we have very clear evidence that OVERCONSUMPTION (which leads to obesity) is one of the main culprits in the chronic illness epidemic.

The foods that are the best to limit are the ones that are easy to over consume.

You know what those foods are for you.