We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” Well, for the most part it’s true. The substances we eat and drink have a huge impact, some good and some bad, on our health. There are many thoughts on what “health food” is and sometimes it’s difficult to decipher what’s a fact and what’s a myth.
Here are a few basic tips to think about to eat your way to health. One way to think about meal composition is dividing your plate into quarters. At any given meal, two quarters of your plate should be vegetables (for breakfast this could be antioxidant rich berries), another quarter of your plate should contain a lean, healthy protein, and the last quarter of your plate could be some sort of starch or whole grain if you tolerate grains. By dividing up your plate this way gives you a visual, making it easy to determine whether you are getting enough of the necessary “healthy” foods or too much of “unhealthy” foods.
As for what foods to include (or not include) on your plate, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Avoid processed foods. The more people or machines who have touched your food, the less healthy it is for you. Also, only eat foods that will spoil. If the food has an extended expiration date, it’s considered a processed food with additional ingredients that aren’t good for you.
Adults should consume between 45-55 grams of protein every day. This range can vary from person to person depending on their height and activity level. I recommend that you take a few days to tally up how much you’re eating. Another thing to think about is the source and quality of your protein. If you choose to eat meat, select naturally-raised hormone-free meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
Overall, Americans eat way too much sugar and refined flour products. Although the bread, tortilla, roll, pasta, chips, cereal and crackers are tasty, they do a number on our blood sugar, energy, weight and overall health. Many people note health improvements when they eliminate all grains from their diet.
Don’t be afraid to eat fat. We need to consume healthy fats for many functions such as balancing hormone and cholesterol levels, warding off cardiovascular diseases, and managing inflammatory conditions to name a few. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado, and nuts & seeds. Avoid hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils. Again, the more the fat has been tampered with prior to making an appearance on your plate, the less healthy it is for you.
We aren’t meant to eat the same foods every day. Try to make your plate colorful and you’ll ensure that you’re meeting all your daily nutrient requirements.
Use only filtered water for cooking and drinking. Between 55-70% of your body is made up of water. If you have trouble staying hydrated, try herbal teas, or water infused with lemon, lime, or cucumber.
Natural sweeteners include raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, organic cane sugar and stevia. Avoid all artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet and Splenda.
With that comes an abundance of food that out-lives pests and problematic weather conditions. Although food is plentiful, food quality is at an all-time low. To protect your body from the unknown long-term effects of genetically modified foods and pesticides/herbicides, the only safe option is to choose organic.