Eating Healthy: Tips for a Healthy Diet & Lifestyle
Eating healthy is defined many different ways by many people. Sometimes it can be a little confusing and sometimes, downright overwhelming. Seems like every few years the media is telling us, “eat a no fat diet”, “stay away from carbs”, “sprinkle this chemical on your food to make you feel full!” The list goes on and on and on. So is there really a right way to eat, is there a good diet? The answer is simply….. YES! Now to clarify what I mean by ‘diet’ let’s look at the two definitions of ‘diet’. The first definition of the word diet is the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. The second definition (which most people think of when they hear the word ‘diet’) is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself to lose weight.
Today we are talking about the first definition: the kind of foods humans should be eating. Do you know what kinds of food you should be eating in order to be eating healthy? Well I will give it to you in very simple terms. We humans should be eating whole foods, a nutrient dense diet. What does that mean? Whole foods equal 1 ingredient foods. That means all your fruits vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, herbs etc. If you eat a whole foods diet, you can guarantee that your body will be getting the nutrients it craves. Now, you may ask, what if I am a Vegan, Vegetarian or Paleo, etc.? Good question. No matter which lifestyle you lead, you should be following the same rule in order to be eating healthy: eat whole foods. Did you know that Oreo’s are a vegan food? Hmm… makes you wonder a little bit doesn’t it. Most of us know there is nothing healthy about an Oreo cookie. Just because someone is vegan or vegetarian does not mean they are eating healthy. That is why everyone will benefit from a whole foods diet. Limit or eliminate processed foods. Try a balance of 80-20 or if you can 90-10 (the bigger number being whole foods and the lower number being processed). That is a good goal for all who want to be eating healthy to work up to!
Tips to eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle:
1. Eat as many whole foods as you can, shoot for 80% of your meals being whole foods. The average person would benefit from a meal consisting of 40% Carbs (complex healthy carbs from vegetables and properly prepared grains) 30% protein and 30% fats. We are all different so that ratio might vary from person to person.
2. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. That is where you will find your whole foods like your produce, proteins (meats, poultry, fish) and dairy.
3. When buying your proteins ALWAYS buy and look for words like:
- Uncured and nitrate free
- Free range or pastured raised (pastured are the best eggs)
- Wild caught fish
*This will help you get the best quality proteins which will be the most nutrient dense.
4. When it comes to your fruits and vegetables always do your best to buy organic or locally to help out and support the farmers around your area.
5. Don’t sweat it, if you have to buy conventional produce from time to time, just make sure you wash your produce really well to get the waxes and chemicals off. A good tip is to fill up your sink with cold water and add a cup of vinegar. Add your veggies and let them soak in the cold vinegar bath for 5-10 minutes. I do this will almost all my veggies (local, conventional and organic).
6. When buying nuts and seeds always look for the word “raw”. This tells you that they haven’t been heated or treated.
7. Be cautious of the word “Natural” especially if you see this on meats, eggs, poultry, pork and fish. I mean all of that is natural, but in the industry it means that the meat contains no artificial colors, it has been minimally processed and there should be no additional artificial ingredients. What this label is not telling you is how this animal was raised, what it ate or the conditions this animal lived in. I stay away from most everything that say’s “Natural” and doesn’t back it up.
8. Eat FAT! People these days are so scared of fat I could write a whole book on this subject alone. Our bodies scream for good fats, not only are they good for you, but having good fats in our diets is absolutely essential. Here is a very quick list of why fats are essential for our bodies:
- They are our key source of energy, which is a nice long steady energy burn, unlike sugar which is a quick source (which craves you to want more). Fat burns slow which helps us to have more energy for a longer period of time.
- Good fats are in every single cell in our bodies and they play a crucial role in our elimination of toxins and healthy fats are responsible for healthy liver function.
- Fats are essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. Which means if we are taking and or eating foods with these vitamins they are absorbed into our body better if we are eating good quality fats.
- Fats are also wonderful at managing the inflammation in our bodies.
9. Which fats do I eat then?
- Fats to avoid at all costs are: Hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils like : Canola, vegetable oils, margarines and those fake butters like Promise and Can’t believe it’s Not Butter. These fats are toxic and interfere with the roles healthy fats play within our bodies.
- Instead good fats to add to your diet are organic, cold pressed and unrefined. Which means the oils haven’t been heated to kill the nutrients. These include: Coconut oil, Olive oil, raw butter, Grass-fed butters, ghee or clarified butter, fats from pastured animals like lard and tallow, hazelnut, sesame, flaxseed oil, fish oil, hemp and sunflower oils are all good.
10. Limit your sugar! This is a huge topic and could be talked about alone. I’ll try to shorten it up a bit. Did you know in the year 1810 the average person consumed around 10 pounds of sugar a year. In the year 2005 the average person consumed an average of 199 pounds of sugar a year. Go ahead, read that last sentence again…. I was blown away too. That’s pretty sad isn’t it? And people wonder why there is so much sickness. Sugar is everywhere and it has many sneaky names too. Make sure you read your labels and watch out for all these words: Brown sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar. Hidden Names for Sugar: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, disaccharides, molasses, succanat, polysaccharides, sucrose, fructose, invert sugar, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, malt, malt extract, maltose, maltodextrin, rice extract. If you read the label and one of these is listed in the 1st 3 ingredients then you can guarantee it will be a high sugar product.
11. Fake sugars to avoid:
- Aspartame aka Nutrasweet, Equal and this one is found in sodas, energy drinks, gum and many yogurts. Aspartame is one of the most studied artificial sweeteners, and has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup found in virtually everything from ice cream to spaghetti sauces. It is highly processed from corn which will mostly likely contain GMO’s. HFCS should be avoided like the plague.
- Sucralose aka Splenda found in fruit drinks, canned fruit, etc.
- Agave Nectar has more fructose than table sugar which, which means it’s less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, but it is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
There is so much to say about eating healthy, so much controversy, but in the end if you just stick to these couple things you can ensure you are doing right for your body. So to end just remember these few things: shop the perimeter of the store for your whole nutrient dense foods and read your labels.
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