Today I did a BIG (pushing $300) shop at Natural Grocers with my 9-year-old daughter, Caroline. For once, we had plenty of time to browse in the beautiful produce section and check out all of the fun new healthy items in stock (like paleo wraps!). As we were checking out, Caroline mentioned how excited she was that we were only buying seven packaged items even though our shopping cart was overflowing with food. Real food! In our house, we talk a lot about what real food is and how important it is for our health. We grow vegetables in our garden and shop at farmers’ markets in the summer, shop for pastured meat and eggs (locals when possible), make our own nut and seed milk and bake our own bread (paleo bread, that is). I do admit to keeping a few convenience foods in my cupboards such as Lara Bars, Kind Bars, dark chocolate, seaweed and organic corn chips (my husband likes a little “crunch” every once in a while).

Our bodies simply have no idea what to do with most of the packaged “foods” you find at a typical grocery store. Dr. Mark Hyman proposes that “food contains information for your genes that controls your metabolism.” Processed foods send the wrong messages to your genes; messages that “promote weight gain, changes in hormones, increases in molecules that trigger more hunger, inflammation and more – all the things that give the wrong information to the body as it tries to regulate its weight.”

Following a whole foods diet will send the right messages to your genes. That’s because your genes know exactly how to interpret the information they receive from real foods. And they know exactly what to tell your metabolism to do to use these foods in the healthiest manner possible. Whole foods were designed by nature to keep you at a healthy weight and keep your metabolism finely tuned. Your body simply has no idea how to process man-made foods, which is why the Standard American Diet (SAD) – high in “fake” foods – is implicated in so many chronic diseases.

Consider making one of your goals for the New Year to cut back on packaged foods. Your genes (and your waistline) will thank you. Until next time, make every bite count!