01/09/2013 02:02 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

You Are What You Eat

Perhaps I'm showing my age, but I can remember a slogan from my childhood that went: "You are what you eat, from your head down to your feet." I cannot remember what product it was for, but it was very catchy. Interestingly, I haven't heard it for many years. It seems, somehow, passé to advocate such a simple approach to food.

Why is that? At what point did the producers of our food stop wanting us to focus on the quality and only consider the convenience of it? And how can the producers of highly-processed foods justify trying to be the healthiest of the lot, when the term "fast food" is completely opposite the reality of truly "nutrient-dense, healthy food"?

If you do a search for "diet plans," you'll be rewarded with more than 76 million results. Uhhh, overwhelmed, anyone? Where in this new year do we start? And, since there is no shortage of options, what is the right plan for you?

Now, here's my disclaimer: There is no single plan that works for everybody. However, choosing a plan that works for your body is both very simple and very difficult. Or, I should say, the choosing part is simple, the doing part may be difficult, depending on your lifestyle. But, it boils down to this (often unpopular) approach below.

As an aside, when I say "nutrient-dense," I'm referring to foods that are not made in a factory. They are not processed, and they are often organic. These are foods that provide nutrients to your body in ways that you can absorb and use. Interestingly, individuals who are overweight and obese often lose significant amounts of weight simply by replacing the processed food calories with whole food that have nutrient-dense calories. Additionally, when people do this, they generally eat less, since nutrient-dense foods take up more space in the stomach and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.

Other benefits to these foods include helping you be more "regular" (more on the benefits of this in a later post), the resolution of hypoglycemia (since you don't have a huge spike in your blood sugar, you also don't have the plummet), more energy and clearer thinking. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, most nutrient-dense foods don't come in packages with labels. They don't come "ready to eat," and they often require more than "just add water." A microwave may cook them, but it won't be a meal. Eating these foods will require more thought, preparation and money, and they cannot be purchased at the drive-thru.

Processed foods are much cheaper, but I would argue that the costs they exert on the body are hugely expensive. Processed foods can lead to obesity, back pain, diabetes, heart disease, constipation, fatigue and a long list of additional problems. These foods are so hard on our bodies because the additives they contain are difficult, if not impossible, for the human body to digest. The quality of the food (and I use that term very loosely!) is poor, with a lower nutrient density per calorie than any unprocessed food. The carbohydrate load in these foods can, for many individuals, cause an opiate-like effect; in other words, it's like getting high on food, and the withdrawal leads to further food cravings.

I hope I haven't scared you off. That's not my intention. My intention is to presence you to how important and special you are, and how you deserve better than food that has unpronounceable ingredients. And makes you sick, to boot! This January, I invite you to try on the idea that good food is of good quality, is naturally colorful, and leaves you with no "buyer's remorse!"

For more by Wendie Trubow, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.