The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free In Japan

The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free in Japan

Gluten-free in Japan? Good luck. Trying to avoid gluten in Japan is like trying to avoid glitter at Mardi Gras. It goes completely undetected until you get home and find glitter hiding in your hair and the folds of your clothes. Well, you can’t even imagine all the places that gluten hides in Japanese food…

The Only Way to Eat Gluten-Free in Japan

Writing to you from Japan now, I’ve learned quite a bit about what it takes to eat truly gluten-free in this land of culinary wonders. I did my research before coming and thought I was prepared, but still ended up accidentally eating gluten. Fortunately for me, I am not highly symptomatic and don’t suffer much when I eat gluten, but my leaky gut does. If you are highly gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, you will definitely need to read this article before eating in Japan.

Where gluten hides in Japanese food

The 4 Offenders

Nearly every type of Japanese dish is made with at least one of 4 glutinous suspects: soy sauce, miso, dashi, and MSG.

Soy Sauce: Most all the soy sauce is made from wheat and my Japanese friends in Tokyo area have never even heard of Tamari, the wheat-free soy sauce we eat in Australia. Soy sauce is definitely not just for dipping in Japan. It is used as liberally as salt and pepper in other countries, added to everything! It’s even on that seemingly gluten-free steak, mixed in with those seaweed snacks, and added to even the most plain-looking soups. Japanese for soy sauce is SHOYU (しょうゆ) pronounced ‘show you’.

Miso is a flavourful paste traditionally made from soy beans, but also often made from wheat, barley, or any combination of grains. Just like soy sauce, miso is usually one of the essential ingredients in most Japanese foods, and even if you knew it was there, you wouldn’t know if it’s the kind of miso made from glutinous grains or not.

Dashi is Japanese stock. Just like broth and stock around the world, the traditional form is highly nutritious (dashi is traditionally made from bonito fish flakes) but the modern commercial version is often just MSG-filled powder. Just like soy sauce and miso, dashi is in nearly every restaurant dish or packaged food.

MSG: In China and Japan MSG is made from real gluten! But instead of MSG on the labels, you will see ‘amino’ (in Japanese characters: アミノ), which stands for amino acid or amino flavouring. The majority of food labels I’ve seen this week in Japan say ‘amino’, and my Japanese friends confirm that it is everywhere. As if MSG didn’t make you feel bad enough, in Japan you get the effects of MSG and gluten all in one.

Even the rice has been ‘glutened’!

Sadly, this favourite grain for gluten avoiders is not guaranteed to be gluten-free in Japan. The vinegar added to sushi rice and the rice used for those delicious onigiri snacks at the convenience stores usually has gluten in it. At a restaurant, a bowl of rice may very well be safe, but always best to enquire first. Read below to find out how.

Don’t drink the brown tea

After your meal at a restaurant or when visiting Japanese hosts, you will usually be offered tea that’s either green or brown. The brown tea is usually mugi-cha, or wheat/barley tea, so politely decline!

Salted cucumbers on a stick, gluten-free street treat
Salted cucumbers on a stick, gluten-free street treat

How to eat completely gluten-free in Japan

1/ Buy your own food from the shops or markets
No matter where you are in the world, the absolute best way to control what you eat is to go to the shops or markets, buy real primal food – meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits – and prepare your own meals.

Make your own food in Japan
My homemade sashimi salad in Japan

If you can’t cook because you’re visiting Japan and staying in hotels, then buy fresh produce daily that can be enjoyed raw, and the pre-packaged green salads are also yummy and safe, as long as you don’t use the separately packaged salad dressing. For meats, your best bet if you’re not cooking is raw or grilled (non-marinated) fish from the supermarket. All of the sashimi (raw fish) has nothing on it and is very cheap and delicious. For the grilled fish, look for the one that doesn’t have an ingredient list, then you know there’s nothing on it.

gluten-free-in-japan10 gluten-free-in-japan13 gluten-free-in-japan12 gluten-free-in-japan2 gluten-free-in-japan7 Buying gluten-free food in Japan

Japanese convenience stores like 7-11, Lawsons and Sunkus have a wide array of healthy-looking food but with long and dubious ingredient lists. There are some salads like at the supermarket, but the safest healthy food I’ve found here is tinned fish with no sauce. I found some very delicious canned saba fish and tuna fish with only salt, and the best sardines I’ve ever had in my life, in only olive oil.

You may need a Japanese friend or basic Japanese phrases to check if the canned fish has any of the 4 offenders on it, or if it only has salt. I often point and ask “Shio dake?” (she-o daw-kay), meaning “Only salt?”.

As mentioned above, don’t eat the sushi or rice balls and beware of the harmless-looking hard-boiled eggs. I was so excited to have that healthy option, but as soon as I tasted it knew something was fishy. Sure enough, my Japanese friend confirmed the hard boiled eggs are cooked in at least 3 of the 4 offenders. I had a hard-core MSG racing pulse the next day. 🙁

Avoiding gluten in Japan
Don’t eat the hard-boiled eggs at the convenience store.

2/ Stay with a Japanese host
Finding a local to stay with in Japan might be as easy as getting onto airbnb or couchsurfing.com, and you’ll not only then have someone to translate food labels for you (invaluable!), but you may also get some Japanese style home-cooking catered to your dietary needs! Japanese people are incredibly generous hosts and will be curious and eager to cook their dishes for you with traditional versions of the 4 offenders that don’t contain gluten.

Gluten-free breakfast at our Japanese friend's house
Gluten-free breakfast at our Japanese friend’s house

3/ Print out and carry gluten-free restaurant cards
Some wonderful gluten-free folk on the internet have been kind enough to create gluten-free restaurant cards in various languages and give them away for free. I printed and laminated mine before leaving for Japan and have found them invaluable when eating out here. The best I found are these restaurant cards from glutenfreeeasy.com.

When I gave the card to waiters at both a sushi train and restaurant, they took the cards to the chefs and came back with the menu, pointing to things they could make for me without gluten. Sushi train options were limited to sashimi and plain asparagus, but at the traditional restaurant, I had a delicious grilled whole fish flavoured only with salt, and a raw veggie platter to share with my friends.

Gluten-free order at the sushi train
Gluten-free order at the sushi train

4/ Eat at international restaurants
Even though Japanese food is one of the most glutinous cuisines, it is also a very delicious and traditional cuisine that is one of the best aspects of visiting Japan. So unless you live in Japan, I recommend this option the least. However, if you’re eating out a lot, consider going out for an Indian curry or an Aussie steak now and then to give you more menu options. The Japanese love international cuisine, so you’re still doing as the locals do. Definitely still bring your restaurant cards though!

5/ Go out for yaki-niku
Yaki-niku, or grilled meat restaurants are really fun and so easy to avoid gluten that you just might be able to eat the same food as everyone else at your table! You cook your own meat and vegetables on the grill in the middle of the table, and the menu gives the option of ordering your meat with only salt and no marinade. Just avoid the dipping sauce after you grill your meat, or bring your own little bottle of safe sauce. Use your restaurant card and ask about the rice if you want to have some on the side. Yum!

Fresh fruit on a stick, gluten-free street treat
Fresh fruit on a stick, gluten-free street treat

More info and resources:

– Informative blog post ‘Eating Gluten Free in Japan’
– A list of the different types of miso
‘Your Guide to Gluten Free Adventuring in Japan’ by Ctrl Alt Eat

 

Please share any other tips you have for eating gluten-free in Japan!

Gluten Intolerance: A Real Problem or a Diet Fad?

Gluten Intolerance: A Real Problem or Diet Fad?

Are you getting sick of hearing about gluten yet? Or are you getting sick from eating it? With the gluten-free craze reaching new heights every day, it’s sometimes hard to tell what is breakthrough science and miraculous cures, and what is marketing hype and diet fashion. So here’s what’s really going on with the gluten thing…

Is Gluten Intolerance a Real Problem or Diet Fad?

What exactly is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains. Gluten intolerance is not an allergy – it’s a physical condition in the small intestine that goes like this:

1/ You can’t digest the gluten properly, so it hangs out in your small intestines.
2/ Your body sees this gluten ‘hanging out’ as a foreign invader, which it doesn’t like.
3/ Your small intestine gets irritated/inflamed. This flattens the microvilli along the intestinal wall.
4/ Without your microvilli active, you have less area to absorb nutrients from your food. You suffer from malabsorption.
5/ The malabsorption leads to nutrient deficiency, which leads to symptoms of disease.

So you can see how if you don’t realise you are gluten intolerant for the first 20-40 years of your life, that is a long time for gluten to continue damaging your guts and your immune system.

What starts out as intestinal damage leads to malabsorption, which leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which leads to autoimmune disease, liver damage, hormone disruption, and more.

 

What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

As proper digestion and nutrient intake are required for all of our bodily processes, the damage from gluten intolerance can show up in your body in a multitude of various ills, pains and diseases. Therefore, any of these symptoms could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance.

– Fatigue after eating gluten / Chronic fatigue
– Headaches & Migraines
– Skin rashes & disorders
– Depression, mood swings, anxiety, mental fogginess, ADD
– Weight gain or weight loss
– Digestive issues like bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, IBS
– Autoimmune disease diagnosis such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis
– PMS, PCOS, unexplained infertility
– Swelling or pain in joints / fibromyalgia / tingling or numbness in extremities

Of course, these symptoms could also have other causes and not be linked to gluten intolerance.  So be careful not to jump to conclusions solely based on the presence of related symptoms.

Symptoms alone are not evidence of gluten intolerance. However, if you completely remove gluten from your diet for awhile and symptoms improve, then you know you are onto something!

 

Are there tests for gluten intolerance?

You have some symptoms, so how do you confirm if it’s gluten intolerance? There are a few problems with traditional gluten intolerance testing. The first is that even if you are gluten intolerant, the test may come back negative if you have already started to cut gluten out of your diet. Secondly, the most common blood tests only test for one type of protein component in wheat, called gliadin. However, there are a handful of other components in the wheat that your body could be reacting to. So you could come back with tests saying that you should be all good to eat wheat, when really you are not.

 

What about Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is one possible result of gluten intolerance, so it is possible to be gluten intolerant but not have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune response to the gluten proteins in your gut.

 

Again, the testing for this disease is not very reliable, as the test can come back negative if you are not currently eating gluten, or if the test sampled a less damaged section of the gut. Plus, as the disease is only one result of gluten intolerance, you may test negative for celiac but still have a problem with gluten.

 

There are now other lesser-known tests that have been developed to be more detailed and reliable at detecting an intolerance to gluten, however the best test is still the elimination diet.

 

Elimination is the best test

Therefore, the absolute best way to determine if you have a gluten intolerance is to completely remove gluten from your diet for at least 30 days, and see if your symptoms subside or go away.

 

In order to get accurate results here, you must eliminate gluten from your diet 100% . No 80/20 gluten eating! List every single nagging symptom you have, no matter how infrequent. After the elimination period, see how many of your symptoms remain. If most symptoms are gone, you may just want to stay with your new diet – your body likes it! If you are not sure, you can then reintroduce gluten to see if the symptoms reappear.

 

Just as it can take decades for the effects of gluten damage to manifest into symptoms, it can also take months or years to clear it from your system and heal the gut damage. So the longer you can eliminate it from your diet, the better.

 

In addition, some gluten-free grains like corn, oats and rice contain proteins that are similar in structure to gluten and therefore still cause an immune response in people with gluten intolerance. This is why a large percentage of people who go gluten-free only feel better for awhile, until they also then do the elimination test with the other grains.

 

Why is gluten intolerance on the rise?

There are several theories and discussions in the health community about this. Mainly they point to modern agriculture using hybridised grains for high yields. These modern grains are different from the ancient grains that many cultures have safely consumed as a staple for centuries. Additionally, traditional cultures always soaked and prepared their grains thoroughly before consumption, which is not at all the case today.

The Gluten Free Diet-Fad

When going gluten-free, DO NOT get sucked into the marketing madness of gluten-free products! This is when eating a gluten-free diet can be just as, if not more dangerous than just eating the grains. Gluten-free breads, pastas, cereals, flours and snacks are often nutrient deficient, over-processed foods that will also cause digestive distress and nutrient deficiency.

Remember that food corporations are not health professionals! They are simply manufacturers of products who want to cater to what the public wants. If everyone is going gluten-free, they will put that label on anything they can find to sell. Gluten-free Oreo cookies, anyone?

Eating Gluten-Free Package-Free

All fruits, vegetables and animal foods are naturally gluten-free, and so that is what makes up a gluten-free diet. This is a very Primal diet! Just make sure that your animal foods are as unprocessed/packaged as possible, to ensure there has been no added gluten (as in the case with sausages, roast chicken spices, etc.). If you do have packaged foods, beware of gluten going by different ingredient names. Celiac.com has a long list of label ingredients that typically contain hidden gluten.

To get started on how to go gluten-free package free, check out my simple formula for Primal Meals.

 

THE WORLD’S FIRST GLUTEN SUMMIT!

Here’s a sign that gluten intolerance is definitely on the rise, and your chance to learn more about it from the experts. Dr. Tom O’Bryan of the Dr.com has gathered 29 of the world’s experts and opinion leaders on the topics of gluten-related disorders, nutrition and healthy living for a series of online interviews taking place for FREE from November 11-17, 2013.

If you’re reading this after the date of the summit, you can still click on the image below to access all the speakers talks in a great package for a small price.

The Gluten Summit November 11th-17th 2013
The Gluten Summit November 11th-17th 2013
  • Learn about the latest research on gluten-related disorders
  • Understand why we MUST call more attention to them
  • Gain improved knowledge of proper diagnosis/treatment methods

 

References:

http://www.naturalnews.com/038170_gluten_sensitivity_symptoms_intolerance.html
http://chriskresser.com/50-shades-of-gluten-intolerance
http://www.foodrenegade.com/the-rise-of-gluten-intolerance/
http://theglutenminded.com/2013/05/13/the-rise-of-gluten-intolerance-modern-wheat/

Gluten Allergy Symptoms (What To Look Out For)


 

What is your experience with gluten symptoms, elimination and gluten-free diets?

The Best Alternative to Breads, Tortillas and Wraps

The Best Alternative to Bread, Tortillas and Wraps

Homemade, soaked and fermented sourdough bread can be a nutritious addition to some people’s diets, and the same goes with tortillas made with the long traditional method. But let’s face it: most bread, tortillas and wraps we buy today are nutrition-less, over-processed grain and gluten products that cause many of us digestive distress, slowly leading to disease.

Sadly, we have become so dependent on these flour-based products, that it’s one of the hardest things to imagine eliminating from our daily diet. What will we toast for breakfast? What will we eat for lunch if not a sandwich? How will I eat my chicken salad or tuna salad at the picnic?

The best gluten-free bread or wrap your tuna salad has ever seen.
The best gluten-free bread or wrap your tuna salad has ever seen.

Lettuce Wraps!

I know that if you are someone who doesn’t eat many vegetables and/or salads, lettuce sounds like the most boring food on earth. Mostly water, not much taste. However, when you are using a leaf of lettuce to hold flavourful meats and vegetables, it is the most perfect food for the job. It’s crispy. It’s moist, requiring no butter or spread. It doesn’t detract from the tastes of the food inside. It’s cheap, portable and requires no cutting board. Yes, as a wrap, lettuce is king.

Many kids who won’t eat lettuce, will have it as a wrap – as long as there is something yummy inside! Our 4-year-old, Kaiya, loves the crunch of lettuce wraps. It’s the only time she enjoys lettuce.

Gluten and grain free tacos coming right up!
Gluten and grain free tacos coming right up!

 

The downside of the movement away from gluten is that people are now eating loads of gluten-free breads and wraps. Sadly, these are also just over-processed packaged products that are not much better. So ditch the gluten-free bread and the wholewheat spinach wrap, and just get a cheap, fresh, head of lettuce!

I find that Cos Lettuce (Romaine) has the best leaves for wraps, and Baby Cos (Baby Romaine) are good for snacks or appetisers. Keep your lettuce nice and dry in the fridge and it will last longer.

Not just for sandwich time, lettuce wraps go well with any meal.
Not just for sandwich time, lettuce wraps go well with any meal.
Lettuce wraps go well with any meal. Here with beef and beetroot and a side of pumpkin.
Lettuce wraps with beef and beetroot and a side of pumpkin.

When you want to take your lettuce wraps out for a picnic or lunch at work, just tear off some leaves and put in a container or little bag. Keep your filling in a separate container, then just make the wraps as you are about to eat them. You could pre-wrap, but often the filling falls out everywhere and the lettuce may start to get soggy.

Even Kids Love Lettuce Wraps
Leftover beef and pumpkin scrap salad for Kaiya and her friend.
They spooned it into the lettuce wraps at the park.

Lettuce wraps are perfect for Lovin’ Leftovers. What a perfect way to enjoy leftover stewed or grilled meats, fish, chicken and veggies – throw it in a lettuce wrap!

 

What do you love to put in your lettuce wraps?

From Glandular Fever to Yoga Teacher: Louise’s Story

From Glandular Fever to Yoga Teacher

Yoga as a form of physical exercise has been part of Louise’s life for over a decade. However, a recurring struggle with glandular fever left her physically exhausted and emotionally drained. For such an active, busy individual this was a huge blow.

 

Louise O'Boyles Health Journey Story Testimonial

“Just before starting my one year, 360 hour yoga teacher training course, I met Bex. With our shared passion for an outdoors lifestyle it was no surprise that we immediately connected. As I started to study yoga physiology and philosophy, I felt the desire to review my whole lifestyle. With the help and support of Bex, I identified areas to work on, set realistic goals and started to make simple changes.

People had always commented on my busy lifestyle. Jam-packed with commuting, long work hours, exercise and socialising, there was no space for relaxation or cooking. Gradually I made a conscious effort to pull back, turning down some social invitations, slowing down and ultimately, listening to my body and mind.

My weekdays involved early rises so I could push through high impact, cardio classes, long hours in the office, followed by strong yoga classes in a heated room in the evening. Although I was physically fit, I was also lacking in energy. Following Bex’s suggestion, I moved my heated yoga practice to early mornings and lunchtimes which freed up my evenings. I am now able to go to bed earlier, my body has time to replenish its energy levels overnight and I awake feeling refreshed.

“I suffer from food sensitivities so I avoid gluten and dairy, but Bex pointed out that my lack of energy was due to the lack of protein and nutrients in my low-fat, gluten-free, dairy free, semi vegetarian diet which was full of complex carbs.”

Having de-cluttered my schedule, I found I had more time for food shopping and cooking – which was useful as my new diet did require more forward thought and preparation. With Bex’s assistance though, I got into the swing of it and nowadays it’s just part of my normal routine. I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way; tins of tuna are perfect for leaving in your office drawer and combining with any salad ingredients you happen to have in the work fridge. Salt, pepper and lemon juice are the best salad dressing combo – no need for processed dressings. Almonds are your friend! I snack on them at my desk or on the go. Bananas are nature’s pre-exercise pick me up and so portable – great for eating in the car. Sunday nights are my favourite time of the week for prepping food.  I often make egg muffins by lining a silicone muffin baking tray with ham or bacon, combine eggs, herbs, seasoning, capsicum, cherry tomatoes (or any veg you have on hand), and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Hey presto, breakfast sorted for the entire working week.

As chance would have it, shortly after making changes to my schedule and diet, I got approached about a new corporate role that offered career progression and new challenges, along with more balanced work hours. I not only finish work at a decent hour, but even have time to teach yoga one or two evenings a week. I love equipping my students with the tools I’ve learnt to help them find more balance in their lives and to inspire others around them to do the same.”

Louise went from Glandular Fever to yoga teacher

Deepening her awareness of nutrition, natural therapies, relaxation, meditation and the interconnectedness of body and mind had a profound effect: increased space, freedom and vitality, both mentally and physically. Now back to her habitually active self, Louise has realised her optimal balance of work and play and enjoys a healthier and happier life.

 

Louise O'Boyle Surfside Yoga SydneyLouise’s lightness of spirit is infectious. Instinctively focusing on the happier things in life, she radiates playfulness and positivity. This attitude is the cornerstone of her work as a yoga teacher. Based on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches, Surfside Yoga strives to motivate you to take time out to move, stretch, strengthen and relax both body and mind. Teaching a dynamic style of yoga, Louise’s positive energy and genuine smile are infectious.

Connect with her at www.facebook.com/SurfsideYogaSydney

 If you are in Sydney, get to one of Louise’s yoga classes at Narrabeen Surf Club: Thursday 7pm – 8.15pm and Saturday 8am – 9am. Yoga with an ocean view!

Single Mother Lydia Found Freedom From Migraines, Asthma, PMS & Chronic Sickness

Lydia Discovered Divine Health

“I lived much of my adult life encumbered by some sort of illness. At one point my illness became chronic and after an extremely intense season of challenge in my life, I threw my hands in the air and said, ‘Enough is enough!’ I knew deep down that this was not how life should be and I took it upon myself to heal my weary soul and body. It wasn’t long before I was experiencing major health breakthroughs. This is what I long to share with others, so that you never have to be in chronic ill health.

Lydia turned her health around by eliminating processed food

For much of my adult life I have been very interested in health and nutrition. I read every book I could get my hands on. I sought many paths towards health and wellness, but none of them led me where I truly wanted to go.

When I discovered ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon, that was the missing link for me. After that I discovered there was a whole wide world of people out there that think outside of the box. Through folks like the Weston A. Price Foundation, Nora Gedgaudas, Carolyn Dean, Julia Ross, Mark Sisson and many others, I have come to enjoy greater health by implementing what I have gleaned.

“I have learned that you can reverse many health maladies by simply consuming real nutrient dense foods and avoiding processed cheap foods. Thus discovering that the saying holds true, ‘You are what you eat!’ It has only been in the past few years that I have fully shifted my family over to real foods and away from processed foods completely. It has been a pleasure!!”

After completely eliminating processed foods, I have seen a health transformation in myself.

I no longer suffer from:

– Intense menstrual pains and cramps each month, nor the pain of mittelschmerz each month during ovulation.

– Random severe body aches and pains all up and down the right side of my body.

– Sinus infections. Blowing my nose constantly due to constant mucous production.

– Migraines and headaches. Popping ibuprofen like it was candy.

– Asthma symptoms, as well as seasonal colds and allergies.

– Adrenal fatigue, a malady that plagues most Americans today.

After having struggled with asthma since I was 12, I have learned how to manage any possible flare up through natural alternatives to inhalers. Additionally, in early 2010, I learned I needed to stop consuming gluten, with this transition I have experienced many wonderful benefits as well.

“Overall, I have way more energy, lost 20 pounds and generally feel great in my own skin. I am no longer a slave to my cravings. I find great freedom in that alone.”

Fitness is also important to me. Gone are the days when people work physically hard, walk to school/work, and labor on the farms (well for the majority of us at least). I find that exercise is not the more crucial element in a healthy lifestyle, but it is a very important one. I love to push my body physically and benefit from the results. I also believe in the importance of rest when needed, as well as focusing on quality sleep. I thoroughly enjoy yoga, bike riding, kettlebells, dance and hope to one day become an RKC instructor or take up martial arts.”

Single mother Lydia transformed her health

“I believe that health is a choice, a right and a gift that we cannot take for granted, and in this day and age, unfortunately, must fight for!”

 

Divine Health from the Inside OutLydia is a single mom of four boys, on a mission to share her passion for whole, healthy, real foods with the world. Lydia is:

– Founder of ‘Divine Health from the inside out’ website and facebook community.
– Certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association.
– Co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa.
– A member of the Nourished Living Network.

Eat Healthy by Ignoring Health Food Labels

Eat Healthy by Ignoring Health Food Labels

Walking down the aisle of the supermarket (yes, I go in occasionally for toilet paper and raw cheese), it’s easy to see why everyone is confused about what to eat. In every aisle, for almost every type of product, there are dozens of choices and each one claims to be healthier than the next. Hmmm, this one is low-fat and all-natural, but this one is sugar-free with added bran. Should I get the one with that’s fortified with vitamins or the one that’s low GI? So many marketing buzz words are plastered all over every package in the place, designed to make us feel good about whichever box we finally choose to put in our basket. At the health food store, the scene is much the same. The place is smaller, the choices aren’t as vast, but the buzz words still swarm. You can have the natural, organic, certified organic or biodynamic option. You can go gluten-free, high-protein, dairy-free, vegan or raw. You even have the luxury of your choice of superfoods! Da da da…superfood!

Fake food marketed with healthy sounding labels

In the end, you get home with boxes and bags of products. Not a lot of real, whole food, but a lot of cleverly-marketed products. You have an initial pride in knowing that you got the healthier option, that you’ve gone gluten-free or dairy-free. However, when you still feel hungry all the time, low on energy and frustrated that you can’t lose that extra body fat, you get confused.  You get on the internet to read more forums and health articles to see if you did make the right choice at the supermarket. Well if you’re reading this, you’ve finally found the article that will stop your confusion forever, because I’m going to give it to you straight and simple. Ignore the health fad labels and buy real whole animal and plant food.

There are No Labels on a Carrot

Although there is no label proclaiming its benefits, a carrot is dairy-free, gluten-free, low-sugar, all-natural, and full of vitamins (no fortifying needed). So is an apple, a chicken thigh, an eggplant, a steak, a tomato, an egg, a bunch of spinach. When you buy animal and plant food in its natural state, you don’t need a label. You can trust that nature put the right amount of everything in that food to nourish your body and make you feel great. You don’t have to stress about lean pork loin versus fatty pork belly or skinless chicken breast versus chicken leg. Nature will give you the right balance of protein and fat in a healthy animal, all you have to do is enjoy the variety of meats that are available to you. You don’t have to stress which fruits and vegetables are higher GI or starchier. Simply enjoy a variety of plant foods and listen to your body to see which ones make your body function best. That’s it. No packages with persuasive and confusing labels, just real food. The easiest way to satisfy your hunger, energy and nutritional needs, which will then discourage weight-gain and illness, is to eat unpackaged animals, vegetables and fruits.

Real Food doesn't need Slick Marketing Labels

I realise that there are some other real foods that you may want to eat and are still confused about. What about grains? What about dairy products? What about nuts, seeds and legumes? So let’s clear all that up right now too. Grains work for some bodies and not others. Grains should only be eaten in their whole, unprocessed state. Grains are also difficult for humans to digest if they are not soaked first. And gluten, a protein in certain grains, causes havoc in many people’s bodies. See why grains are complicated? Dairy can be a superfood, but only if it’s raw, unpasteurised, unhomogenised from healthy grass-fed animals. If you can find good dairy like that, by all means, eat it! Nuts, seeds and legumes are also foods that should be soaked before human consumption, and work better for some people’s bodies than others. If you really want to eat these foods, learn more and follow the rules.

What About Organic and Biodynamic?

And speaking of rules, what about those labels saying organic, certified organic, and biodynamic? The easiest way around any confusion is to buy your meat and veg from the farmers themselves at your local farmers market. Ask the farmers questions until you find animal foods from free-ranging, grass-fed only animals, and plant foods free from artificial fertilisers, chemical pesticides, herbicides and any topical waxes. These foods may not be certified or labelled organic, but you will know that they are. Otherwise, the word organic on a package does not mean much at all. A certified organic label, however, is only put on food packages that adhere to certain standards, so for those foods that always come in a package, such as oils, look for the certified organic label. Biodynamic is a type of organic farming, so can be a great choice, as long as the food itself is also a good choice. Don’t ever let the health industry buzz words be the only factor in your decision to buy food.

We’ve only become consumed with these buzz words in the last century. Our ancestors never felt overwhelmed with low-fat and gluten-free labels, as they simply ate the plant and animal foods that were available to them. Even vegetarianism was not a choice, but simply a matter of having less animal foods available. Today, we have more food available to us than we really need. We are filling ourselves to the brim with nutrient deficient, over-processed, “health-foods”, so there’s no room left for the real foods. Changing this is as simple as eating that carrot, apple, chicken thigh, eggplant, steak, tomato, egg, and bunch of spinach. No labels, no buzz words, no health fads.

COMMENT : Which health fad labels have you been sucked in by?