Are you one of the millions of North Americans in search of the “perfect” diet?

Have you tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Cabbage Soup Diet, etc?

Are you adding supplements to your diet monthly — Glutamine, Vitamin B, calcium, Vitamin D, multivitamins, multiminerals, acai berry drinks, CLA, fat burners, antioxidant formulas — as they become the “next miracle cure”?

Well, maybe it’s time we started changing the way we look at food as a nation.

As North Americans, we are pretty smart … or at least we think we are.

We have scientists who break down the nutrient content of food into it’s tiny little parts. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Then we break those down even further into essential and non-essential amino acids, glucose, fructose, fast-absorbing, slow-absorbing, omega 3’s, omega 6, trans fats, saturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals galore.

Then we take from individual studies on obese people, individuals with diabetes, heart attack and stroke victims, etc, and we extract what we think are “good” and “bad”.

Then we bottle it up and sell it to people like you and I who just want to be healthier.

~Eat food.

~Mostly plants.

~Not too much.

These are three very simple thoughts that were introduced to me when I started reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food. And from then on the entire book spoke to me.

These seem like very simple things to follow.

Eat food. This means food, not edible material. Food is a natural product from nature. If it was alive and has not been processed and formed by man, then it is food.

Choose foods that you enjoy; you don’t have to eat something because you have been told it’s good for you.

Is modern meat whole food? You could argue that it is not. If you look at all the hormones and chemicals used to make the animals grow and you look at the fact that the animals are fed (or in some cases literally stuffed with) corn in order to make them grow larger faster, then you could argue that they are not natural.

A natural animal meat is a pasture-fed animal. Not a feed lot animal.

Some will even go as far as to argue that the meat you eat should be “happy” meat. Meaning the animal lived a natural life, not stuffed into a box with 100 other animals ready to be pushed down a chute.

If you have seen Food Inc, you are now visualizing the horrid scenes. This does not say, become a vegetarian. Humans are omnivores, we eat meat. Sure there are, what we like to call, “bad fats” in meats, but look at other diets in the world high in saturated fats such as the Inuit and the French. They don’t have the heart disease we have, so that’s not the answer to our health problems.

Mostly plants. This sounds easy enough. There are a million different types of plants in the world. This category leaves us open to fruits, vegetables, grains, rice, etc, anything that used to be growing as a plant.

You will notice that it does not say “don’t eat wheat/bread or stay away from carbs”. There are many places in the world where people eat a lot of carbohydrates, and they are way healthier than we are, so that’s not the answer to our health problems either.

Not too much. This is a great general rule. Eat whole foods, whatever ones you enjoy, until you are 80-per-cent full.

How the heck do you know if you’re 80-per-cent full? Well, this brings us to the next part of this rule: eat socially.

Food is a social event. I know, I have said for you to take your friends out for a walk, not coffee and donuts, and this is still true, but with your family, please try sitting down to dinner. At a table, not in front of the TV.

Have a conversation with your family/friends over a great meal. You know what will happen? You will slooooow down your eating. Then you will begin to feel full faster as you take your time to actually enjoy the food you’re eating. This is also called “conscious” eating.

With everything, simply watch your portion sizes.

You will notice that you will not need to count calories or stay away from your favourite foods. The trick is that you need to eat just that, food. No more packaged foods. No more foods that need to put health claims on the packages.

You don’t need to purchase a wonder food. Learn how to use your kitchens and your tables and cook, cook, cook.

If you have to purchase packaged items at the store that you just can’t live without, read the ingredients and if there are more than five ingredients, if you can’t read the ingredients, or if you don’t know what it is; don’t eat it.

I am fully aware that organic, whole food is more expensive than genetically modified, out-of-season food from China, but I am also aware that as a nation we spend more on everything else than we do on food.

Do you buy the cheapest car you can find? How many times have you purchased the latest health craze? Acai berries in a bottle anyone? That stuff is not cheap.

Eat a variety of natural, real food. Eat mostly plants, from fruits and vegetables to ancient unprocessed grains. Eat not too much, with family and friends over a small glass of red wine in a relaxed state. Your body will love you for it.

This column is provided by Peak Fitness. Mrs. Lee Randell is an ACE certified personal trainer. Contact information and past articles are available at www.peakfitnessyukon.com. Anyone who wants to begin an exercise program should consult their physician first.

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.