Do you struggle to figure out the best way to eat? Does all the nutrition “noise” result in confusion and making what you realize are some less-than-terrific food choices? The fact is, eating real food does not have to be complicated. And a whole foods diet provides your body with the fuel it needs to optimally function, as well as the raw materials to begin to detoxify and heal. Of course, there’s much more to living a healthy balanced life than simply the food we eat. However, it’s a great start! Here are some very basic principles to help you make your food work for and not against you.
The Magical Guideline for Eating Like a Wellness Rockstar:
Aim for 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. All day, every day.
About half the food on your plate should be carbohydrates—vegetables, healthy grains. Add a good portion of protein at every meal. Then, add some fat. It’s that simple! Some more details…
CARBOHYDRATES (aka anything that comes from plants):
- Vegetables: Eat huge amounts—you cannot overdo it here—especially lots of leafy greens. Go for rich color and variety.
- Fruit: Eat moderate amounts of fresh fruit.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates: Refined carbs (i.e. white bread, white rice, pasta, instant oatmeal) are grains that have had the fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, bran and germ removed. Instead, try brown rice, whole grain oats, quinoa, amaranth, and millet.
- Sweeteners: Minimal, very occasional. Less is best. If you must, opt for real sugar or maple syrup over anything artificial (NutraSweet, Sweet and Low…)
- Avoid refined sugar. Refined sugar increases insulin and adrenal hormone production, depletes vitamins and minerals, feeds yeast and other “bad” organisms in the gut, leads to mood and energy swings, increases cravings, disrupts sleep, and increases pain and inflammation.
- Pastured, organic, grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs are excellent, healthy sources of protein, as are organic unsweetened whole milk dairy products (no low/non-fat).
- Consider healthy sources of vegan protein as well: hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, nuts, beans and legumes, and spirulina.
- For the past 60 years, Americans have been on low-fat and/or poor quality fat diets. We are a society extremely deficient in healthy fatty acids. Additionally, the research from decades ago that suggested that fat consumption was responsible for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity has now been debunked as flawed and false.
- Fats benefit our health and well being in so many ways: they satisfy our appetite, they are the building blocks of healthy hormones, they provide a long-burning source of energy, and they aid in the formation of anti-inflammatory substances in the body.
- Good fats are vital for every aspect of health: nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado. Avoid “vegetable oil” or “canola oil”—no oils in clear bottles on the grocery shelves.
LIQUIDS: As a general guideline, drink half your body weight in ounces of good quality water throughout the day. No sodas, juice, vitamin water, or sweetened drinks. Adequate hydration will improve a number of health problems including sinusitis, constipation, inflammation, allergies, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and many others.
Remember: Always choose the best quality products possible.When possible, choose Certified Organic.
Avoid processed foods, fast foods, chemically treated foods, and industrially prepared foods. Pay attention to the quality of the ingredients that go in your mouth. Shop, plan, and cook for yourself. Just eat real food. (There is no pasta tree!)
Ellen Lovelace, MPH, NTC helps health-challenged people to overcome the confusion and nutrition “noise,” and achieve optimal wellness through the use of a whole foods-based nutrition plan. She helps clients focus on what they CAN eat, finding good alternatives to not-so-good choices. Ellen specializes in digestion issues, food sensitivities, and general wellness counseling.