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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Time to go back to the basics

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Health trends often fly forward and backward. Foods seemingly swap from being healthy to unhealthy to healthy again in a single news cycle. For example, eggs experts warned about the bad health effects of eggs only to reverse the recommendation later. While the hype often leaves consumers bewildered, nutritionists and health experts often suggest going back to basics. 

 “When we’re reading packaging, claims like local, organic, natural, gluten free, dairy free all give a perceived health benefit, and I think if we go back to basics and really focus on eating real food that is going to make us feel good as individuals … then you really don’t need to worry about all the claims that are on the packages,” Tara Rochford, food blogger and Butler University’s registered dietitian, said.

Part of going back to basics is eating food rooted in the natural world.

“If it comes from the earth or has a mother, it is fair game,” Rochford said. 

Be cautious of pairing food that fits Rochford’s description with food that doesn’t. For example, Loren Bertocci, director of Marian University’s exercise and sports science program, notes how asparagus contains many important nutrients despite a small calorie count, but “pour a cup of hollandaise sauce on the asparagus, you ruin it” because of the sauce’s high cholesterol and fat load. 

Another basic rule of health is variety. Eating a little bit of everything is important.

“A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you eat 20 different foods a day,” Christina Ferroli, an educator with Purdue Extension-Marion County, said. 

For many Americans, reaching 20 foods a day means incorporating more fruits and vegetables. Ferroli recommends eating six vegetables and two fruits a day for a total count of eight fruits and vegetables. Most Americans eat three or less fruits and vegetables a day, so there is definite room for improvement.  

While 20 seems like a high number, Ferroli said it’s very attainable if people take smaller portions. 

Combining smaller portions with substitutes makes reaching 20 a day much easier. For example, Ferroli recommends substituting half a regular portion of mashed potatoes with riced cauliflower mixed with low fat milk and creams. It’s a good way to sneak a serving of vegetables into your day.

Beyond all, going back to basics means moderation is king. Gimmicky diets like the meat-only carnivore diet might create interesting headlines, but these types of meal plans can go too far. 

“People are so into demonizing food, and I feel like all food is good food in moderation. That’s our motto,” Ferroli said. 

Giving too much weight to the terms “healthy” and “unhealthy” can even have some drawbacks.

“I don’t really love the idea of giving food labels because I think that just puts a weird mental stigma on things,” Rochford said, “When people feel like they can’t have something, that something is off limits, then it makes us want it more.” 


Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar




To learn other health recommendations from Tara Rochford, Butler University’s dietitian, read her blog Trebel in the Kitchen at trebleinthekitchen.com.

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