What's Trending: Eating Real Food!

By Ann Thelen

When a new year begins, resolutions involving health or exercise frequently top the list as the most popular resolutions. The marketplace is flooded with tips, trends and techniques to transform your body. With a barrage of information occupying commercials, news programs, magazines, newspapers and our social media feed how do you know what will work best for you?

Dr. Amy Michelle WillcocksonDr. Amy Michelle Willcockson, director of Live Healthy Iowa (LHI), says it’s important to sift through the trends and learn what works for your body. Since receiving her Doctorate of Chiropractic in 1999, Dr. Amy Michelle has been a leading authority of the wellness movement. She has become a well-known advocate for wellness and nutrition in Iowa and shares her enthusiasm across the state in a quest to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. The Iowa Food & Family Project, presenting sponsor of LHI, recently connected with Dr. Amy Michelle for her take on food trends, secrets to overall wellness and why everyone can benefit from a better understanding of agriculture in Iowa.

Trend: Falling for Fads

Once the new year starts, almost every other commercial is a dieting fad that promises to help you lose weight, reverse the aging process and make you feel 10 years younger.

Dr. Amy Michelle doesn’t buy into the dieting fad hype. Rather, she advocates for making lasting lifestyle changes. Once most people start a diet, it may work for them for some time. However, diets are often restrictive, and old habits creep back into daily routines.

“It can be confusing with so many fad diets competing for our attention. Plain and simple, 'diet' should be about the type of foods you’re eating, not the action of ‘dieting.’ The wellness approach I recommend is simple – Eat Well. Move Well. Think Well, she says.

“I understand that people are looking for solutions – people are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. We need to go back and learn what the roots of our food needs are all about. The adage has never been truer than it is today – You are what you eat.”

This phrase has been nearly 200 years, yet we’ve significantly deviated from its meaning. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin -- one of the most influential food writers of all time – wrote this phrase in 1826 in his book, The Physiology of Taste.

He wrote, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." In short, he said that a person's mental, emotional, and physical health could be determined by what they ate, and indeed, their very character revealed. The idea that good food led to good character has hung on ever since.

“There is so much truth in this saying, and we need to get back to the basics when it comes to our eating habits,” Dr. Amy Michelle added. We need to move more. Since 1988, the obesity rate in Iowa has increased from 14 percent to 32 percent. We can’t afford to keep putting our health on the back burner.”

Dr. Amy Michelle’s “Trend-Takeaway”: Thumbs down. Don’t fall for fads. Instead, fall in love with a lifestyle change of eating well, moving well and thinking well. You can get moving with Live Healthy Iowa’s 10 Week Wellness Challenge, which is January 22 to March 30! Registration is open now and stays open until February 5. See more below.

Trend: Keeping it Real

Crockpot Orange Turkey

Getting back to the basics means eating real food. A food trend that is the cornerstone of Dr. Amy Michelle’s wellness approach.

“Healthy bodies start with healthy food. Food – in its natural state – is the fuel God made for us,” she says. “Real food includes meat, apples, milk, lettuce, whole grains – food that has not been processed into an ingredients’ list so long that we can’t understand what is in the food. Once you start putting real food back into your body, you’ll feel better and have increased mental clarity and energy.”

People are figuring it out – the low-fat food trend is over,” she says. “The brain is the master conductor of our body, and it has to have healthy fat to function properly. I believe that the decades of being told to eat fat-free are catching up with people’s health.”

Dr. Amy Michelle fuels her body with real food every three hours. She enjoys a lot of meat-based protein; healthy fats and plant-based protein, such as nuts, avocados, edamame; vegetables; fruits; and healthy carbs, including sweet potatoes or grains. Her favorite protein snacks are homemade meatballs and with good reason. A 3-ounce serving of beef provides 10 essential nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12!

When people switch how they eat, they often get into a habit of consuming the same foods, and that leads to boredom. She advises getting creative with spices and new recipes so that you are enjoying a lot of different foods and keeping your body guessing, which helps to improve metabolism.

Dr. Amy Michelle’s “Trend-Takeaway”: Thumbs up! Americans spend around 10 percent of their disposable income on food, so make it count! Real food is in abundance in our communities with 10 percent of the world’s more productive farm found in Iowa.

Trend: Learn from a Farmer

The farm-to-consumer connection is seeing a surge of interest across the country, a trend that some thought leaders say is one of the Top 10 food trends of 2018. People want to know who is growing and raising their food. Once people learn firsthand about farmers within and near their communities, they will be amazed, Dr. Amy Michelle predicts.

Today on average, people are three generations removed from the farm. While Dr. Amy Michelle has farming in her family’s roots, she never lived on the farm. In August 2017, she joined 40 other Iowans on the Iowa Food & Family’s Project’s Expedition Farm Country, where she met corn, soybean, pig, cattle, turkey and dairy farmers.

Dr. Amy Michelle“For many years, I have been passionate about getting people interested in thinking about where their food comes from and choosing to "go back" to eating real food from the farm. Due to the up close and personal experience, Expedition Farm County anchored my commitment to that mission in a way I did not expect, she says.

“As a society, we have become so disconnected with the food chain process. For example, when you’re buying meat, there was a farmer who got up every morning to tend to the livestock.

When the temperatures are below zero, that farmer was making sure his cows or pigs had shelter, bedding and proper nutrition to make it through the winter.”

After visiting so many farms firsthand, Dr. Amy Michelle says the pride that Iowa’s farmers take in raising healthy animals stood out. It’s their top priority. There are so many standards that farmers must adhere to in order to get their livestock to market.

Dr. Amy Michelle is not alone in her faith in the way farmers produce food and care for the land. In the Iowa FFP’s recent Consumer Pulse Survey of 400 Iowans who are the primary food purchasers in their household, four out of five respondents are satisfied with Iowa agriculture ranging to how animals are cared for to farmers being stewards of air, soil and water quality.

Dr. Amy Michelle’s “Trend-Takeaway”: Thumbs up! Find a farmer in your area and ask if you can come out for a tour. Farmers have real food in their souls. They are growing and raising food in a manner so that families can enjoy nutritious meals around the dinner table while having confidence in the way it got to store shelves.

Get Moving, Get Healthy with Live Healthy Iowa

It’s easy to take the first step to better health with Dr. Amy Michelle’s tips. Live Healthy Iowa’s 10 Week Wellness Challenge can help jump-start your goal to Eat Well. Move Well. Think Well!

Over the course of 10 weeks, teams (2 to 10 people) track activity minutes and/or weight loss through the Live Healthy Iowa website. This simple and affordable challenge provides Iowans an opportunity to improve their health while engaging in fun, friendly competition. Since 2002, Live Healthy Iowa has helped more than 339,000 participants shed over 1.2 million pounds and log nearly 661 million minutes of physical activity through the 10 Week Wellness Challenge.