Being on a cruise where food is one of the main attractions, I decided beforehand that I was going to make this a healthy 73-day adventure. I was determined to stay away from sugar, bread and carbs and make every effort to get in my adequate number of steps to not gain weight.  What a bonus it would be to even lose a couple of unwanted pounds and feel more energetic. This task was going to be daunting given the amount of food served, including the plentiful number of yummy desserts and ice cream socials the cruise company hosts during this trip around Africa.  

Several years ago, I attended a nutritional seminar. The speaker blew me away with her simplicity and exuberance for health and wellness.  It wasn’t about what not to eat. It was about eating and savoring REAL FOOD. Real food is defined as being grown or raised rather than processed.  She told this story about being with her son in the grocery store. The child was whining that he wanted the Captain Crunch cereal. Instead of saying no, she went over to the box of cereal, sat on the floor with him and told him that they were going to play a little game called, “Farm or Laboratory”. She read each ingredient on the box, her son had to tell her if the ingredient was from the farm or laboratory. When she read the last ingredient, all but one of the contents of the box was from the farm, the rest was from a laboratory in the form of additives and flavorings.  The child decided that he no longer wanted the Captain Crunch cereal.  She did this game with her children often. Soon they were laboratory and farm savvy, and they choose, on their own, to eat REAL FOOD.  

According to this food expert, there are more than 75 additives and hundreds of flavorings to make food prettier, creamier, tastier, and stay fresher longer and this doesn’t even include sugar, salt, and fat!  Some of these ingredients are more harmful than others. Research informs us that eating too much of these ingredients can rewire the brain and change its circuitry. Yikes!  It’s just too much to think about. What this nutritionist was saying is all you must remember is three words, EAT REAL FOOD.  That is the simplest health plan I have ever heard!

This EAT REAL FOOD mantra has served me well thus far. I have been able to stay focused on eggs, chicken, lean meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Being one who dislikes buffets, I started to enjoy them as I go on a hunt exploring the vibrant colors of REAL FOOD. I do not feel as intimidated, out of control, or deprived. Staying focused on what I can have and what I should have makes it easier to make healthy choices. 

This strategy can work well in other areas of our lives. Instead of thinking about what we don’t have, we need to focus on how grateful we are for what we do have. Instead of implementing anti-drug programs, perhaps we can ask heart-to-heart questions about what is happening in one’s life that would make an individual want to zone out. Instead of instituting anti-bullying programs, perhaps we can teach skills to develop kindness and character. “Farm or Laboratory” let’s focus on what is real and good for us.