For decades we have been given conflicting information regarding our diets based on scientific studies. Eat eggs, don’t eat eggs, eating fat free will make you healthier (it didn’t), use artificial sweeteners over sugar, use margarine over butter. At this point, I feel confident saying that the science is flawed, and we should ask more questions regarding the parameters of the studies used to guide what we eat. The first question should be who funded the study? Instead of waiting for the next scientific experiment, I suggest following a few simple rules, listen to your body (you know the foods that don’t agree with you), and know that eating healthy is not complicated. I also suggest eating mindfully. What do I mean by mindfully? Focus only on eating when you eat (NO multitasking!), think about the quality of the food you put into your body, take time to breathe, move, and sleep because it’s all works together for your good.
Not so fun facts:
- 60% of the American Diet is processed foods
- More than 90% of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified
- The wheat products we eat today contain 30-50% more gluten than the wheat our ancestors ate
- Sugar is addictive some believe as addictive as cocaine
- In the US, added sugars account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake of adults and up to 14% for children. Dietary guidelines suggest limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10% per day.
- 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep
What to eat?
Eat whole foods
The first step, ask yourself did God make this? Was it created in a lab, processed, or refined? God made, whole foods are free of additives and artificial substances. These foods include whole fruits, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and meat on the bone.
Whole Food vs Processed:
- Potato, plantain, sweet potato, or beet vs. potato chips or veggie chips
- Avocado vs guacamole (Mashing an avocado with onion, tomato, garlic and cumin is great. Skip the plastic container from the store.)
- Organic Grass-fed, free-range chicken or beef vs plant-based meat, processed meats, antibiotic-growth hormone injected meats
- Fresh Fruit vs fruit in gel, syrup or a can
Limit Sugar and beware of hidden sugar
What does sugar do to our bodies? It makes us gain weight, depressed, age faster, it is a contributor to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also addictive so if you start your day with a doughnut, you will be craving more sugar in a few hours. Sugar is added to many foods because it is a cheap way to add flavor. This includes condiments like ketchup which is 29% sugar, peanut butter, and salad dressings. Beware of low-fat food options like peanut butter or yogurt they typically have more sugar. Cut back on sodas, sweet teas, sport drinks, and fruit juices. A good rule of thumb is eat your fruit and drink your vegetables. Read the label on your granola, protein bars, and dried fruit. Many have as much sugar as a candy bar.
Healthy low sugar options:
- nuts and seeds
- no-sugar-added jerky
- hard-boiled eggs
- fresh fruit
- oatmeal with fresh fruit
- Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- egg scrambled with cheese and veggies
- avocado on whole grain toast
- dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
- Baked fruit
Anything shipped to you from great distances is not fresh, is more likely to be sprayed with pesticides and chemicals to prepare for that long journey. Shipped or trucked produce (even organic) must be picked before it is ripe which means it not reached full nutrition potential and will also not be as flavorful. Less natural flavor leads to added dressing and sauce which most likely contains sugar.
Take the time to make that extra stop and pick-up local produce and meats you will taste the difference, you’ll be doing the environment a favor and supporting local jobs.
Have a plant-focused diet filled with low-glycemic foods
Don’t let marketing sway you with their “low carb” or “no carb” labels on processed foods. I am not saying don’t eat meat, I am saying cover 50% of your plate with slow digesting, low glycemic options with a smaller portion of grass-fed meat.
Low glycemic foods
- Greens (spinach, kale, collards, beet)
- Green beans
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Peppers (bell peppers, jalapenos, serrano, etc.)
- Zucchini and crookneck squash
- Snow peas
- Cherries (not dried)
- Tomato Juice
We need “quality” protein
Protein is a structural molecule comprising amino acids, many of which the body can’t produce on its own. Proteins are main building blocks in the body, used to make muscles, tendons, organs, and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various molecules that serve many important functions. Protein should be divided up throughout the day because the body will only utilize approximately 30 grams at a time. A portion size should be the size of your palm. You can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 to get your personal Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).
Quality sources of protein:
- Hormone, antibiotic, pesticide free poultry
- Wild caught, mercury free Fish, shrimp, and scallops
- Whole soy products, avoid GMO/ overly processed
- Free range Eggs
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Organic, grass-fed, Lean red meat
- Nuts and seeds
- Nutritional Yeast
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Black Beans
- Green Peas