Do you sometimes feel that nutrition has gotten complex? I feel that way too! With nutrition science and industry optimizing our food and magazines giving conflicting advice, things have only gotten more complicated. For Minimalists, it’s different because of their perspective of things. Here is some real-life evidence that shows nutrition has gotten more complicated.
- We read the glycemic index, pH values, calories, etc. from the labels
- We are desperately looking for the best sugar substitute
- We practice sports and hate to make up for our sins
- We read magazines, blogs, and books on nutrition
- In the supermarket, we choose from more than 5,000 products
- We count calories and enter them into apps
- We push nutrients back and forth: less fat, more protein, fewer carbohydrates
- We try the most absurd diet concepts of
- We rate foods with points
New findings turn everything upside down every day but does not make anything better than before, but even more contradicting.
Nutrition has become so complicated that there is a right for the profession of a nutritionist. Of all people, brilliant people – more intelligent than all animals – need advice on food intake. Crazy!
We can escape this complexity through simplification – or minimalism, to use a trend term.
Minimalism is a choice for voluntary simplicity, according to Wikipedia. But be careful! Simple does not mean convenient, not easy, not cheap, and not time-saving. Below are 5 things we can all learn from minimalism.
1. Minimalism Involves Not Having Excess
We live in a society characterized by material abundance. Wikipedia describes such a society as follows:
- Products and services are mass-produced
- Goods are sold through advertising in the mass media
- The range of goods goes beyond the demand
- More is produced than can be consumed
- Customers buy more than they want (and need)
In this description, I recognize the food industry. Foods are also mass-produced in factories, given brand names and product promises, and are available anytime, anywhere. You can get food on the internet, in supermarkets, and even on your doorstep.
All you need to get food is just browse or make a call. There are thousands of products in our supermarkets. Nobody has ever asked about most of them. Nobody needs them.
They produce them believing that if there is enough sugar and fat, or it has a beautiful label, someone will buy them.
This constant abundance leads us to buy so much that we throw a lot of it away. About 150,000 tons of food are tossed out in US households each day, equivalent to about a third of the daily calories each American consumes.
Minimalists want to let go of this excess and get by with what they really need. In terms of nutrition, this means not piling up more and more goods and hoarding them in the cupboard for months, not having five types of cereal and four barbecue sauces in stock. It means getting by without ready-made dressings, dips, spreads, and bag soups.
Instead, a minimalist would buy mostly unprocessed or underprocessed staples. When shopping, a minimalist spends most of his time in the fruit and vegetable department and fresh produce counters.
He doesn’t have to make many decisions because there is only one type of cauliflower, one type of broccoli, and little choice in potatoes, rice, tomatoes, etc. The rest does not bother him.
2. Minimalists Want Transparency
Life in abundance is comfortable but complicated. With all the options, who can still decide? We always feel that we are missing out on a better alternative because we cannot evaluate all the information available to us.
If we were to compare all the products in a category with each other every time we shop, read the ingredients, and want to understand them, we would have to walk the aisles armed with a smartphone and spend many hours in the supermarket. We’d rather close our eyes and overlook all the things that we don’t know.
Minimalists don’t accept that. They want clarity in their life. If they transfer this value to their diet, they end up with unprocessed or barely processed staple foods.
You don’t have to deal with a 100 square meter beverage department; drink water – the only drink that people need. Instead of buying processed goods with complicated e-additives that nobody understands, you buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
They avoid food supplements in the form of powders and vitamin tablets because everything is unclear about them! Only real food offers (somewhat) clarity.
They contain no calorie information, no additives, and do not make any health promises. They are just fruits and vegetables.
3. Minimalists Seek Liberty
We live in a free society. But if we don’t take freedom for ourselves, it remains just theory. Expectations, everyday constraints, and comfort always restrict it.
Unhealthy eating is rarely self-determined. Advertising promises initially influence us, and as soon as we taste fast food or sweet goods, we can hardly keep our hands off them because they are addicting us. How convenient that they are available on every street corner. So we lose control of our diet.
Ready meals also relieve us of many decisions that we can no longer make alone: How much sugar should I put in my cake? What should I put in my muesli? How many strawberries should I put in my strawberry yogurt? With industrially produced goods, we hand over responsibility for this to the companies.
Minimalists don’t want to be bogged down by such constraints. You want to live independently and make free decisions. Such freedom, however, requires skills.
Only when we buy fresh food and prepare it ourselves can we regain control over our diet. It is no longer a matter of course that each of us can cook, but these skills allow us more freedom. Those who even grow their own food become even freer.
4. Minimalists Focus on the Essentials
What is essential in life? With so many topics that bombard us every day, it is easy to lose sight of that. Whether to cook fast food or cook it yourself determines our health and is therefore essential for our quality of life.
It is also important for minimalists (including me) to have more time for loved ones and hobbies that bring joy. In nutrition, we can achieve both through healthy eating. Cooking may be a chore, and sometimes you have to overcome yourself, but having cooked is very satisfying.
I especially like cooking for friends. After preparing it myself and when I am together, I enjoy the food much more than if I carelessly gobbled something down in front of the TV. Incidentally, enjoyment is another value of minimalists.
5. Minimalists Want to Live More Sustainably
Many people are increasingly concerned about the responsible use of scarce resources. Sustainability has become a catchphrase and also plays a significant role for minimalists.
They don’t want to live ignorantly but rather leave the smallest possible ecological footprint behind.
If we adhere to this value, it will affect our dietary decisions. Sustainable means buying regionally as possible, but above all, we should buy fresh food instead of processed products.
Each processing step means additional kilometers that a product covers before it ends up on the market. If it is there, it is usually wrapped in plastic, which creates mountains of rubbish.
You see, there is a lot we can learn from minimalism. Simplicity is not convenient. Diet is associated with self-conquest and time expenditure according to minimalist principles. Depending on the ingredients’ quality and the finesse of the meals, it is also more expensive than ready-made products.
However, you don’t have to overdo it with effort. I do not claim to do everything myself. Instead, I take a path that reconciles minimalist values with my everyday life.
That means I cook simple dishes that take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I don’t cook every day; I prepare enough to eat it for several days. Sometimes I freeze something.
I also don’t shy away from making the same dishes every couple of weeks. So I can mostly get by with a selection of 10 recipes. I only need a few devices and a few ingredients that I use repeatedly.
I’m not a minimalist, but I find the values of minimalism reflected in my diet because they coincide with our philosophy of real food.
If you ever wonder which expert or advisor you should believe, orient yourself to the values of simplicity. In this way, you will automatically achieve a healthy diet.