We live in a world of competing ideas about nutrition, health and wellness. Everywhere you turn there is someone telling you to eat this, or to eat that. Conflicting evidence at all times. Therefore, I choose to take my cues from nature. I believe that if you eat local, natural foods that you will be making the correct choices for your body.
All you really need to eat healthy is to keep these three things in mind:
1. Whole Foods
2. Fresh Foods (mostly fresh, preferrably organic or natural)
3. Eat more vegetables (especially leafy greens), high quality meats and less carbohydrates (especially simple ones such as sugar and refined flours)
When we speak of whole foods we speak of the entire edible portion of the food. We live in a world that wants to reduce foods to their basic parts. This is called reductionism. I once heard two pieces of advice in choosing foods at the grocery store. One was to only shop on the outside of the grocery store (typically you find the vegetables, fruits and meats on the outside of the store and the refined foods are on the inside of the store) and the other was to purchase foods that do not have a label telling you that they are healthy. I’ve never seen a label telling me that tomatoes or oranges were healthy, but we all know that they are. That is because they are packaged whole. They come with all of the required parts needed for nutrition.
Typical whole foods are your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats
Typical refined foods are white breads, instant oatmeal, cookies, frozen dinners and anything boxed.
The fresher your food, the more nutrients that it will have. Soon after your food is harvested the nutrients begin to lose their effectiveness or to die off. Typical grocery store foods travel very long distances to reach your pantry. I would purchase produce in the following order if possible: local organic and natural, whole produce from the grocery, frozen produce (freezing occurs soon after picking and maintains a high amount of nutrients, some claim more than typical grocery store produce), then canned produce.
Purchasing local natural/organic produce supports both your health and the health of your local economy and farmers. However, if these are cost prohibitive or not easy to obtain feel free to get conventional produce. It will increase your pesticide intake which is obviously not good, but you will reap multiple benefits from the vegetables themselves which might offset that cost.
Eat more vegetables, quality meats and less carbohydrates:
The standard american diet is very heavy on meats and tends to leave out a lot of vegetables. It takes some effort at first to start using more vegetables in your diet. It’s simply not a part of our culture here. I was once told to think of meat as a garnish on the plate instead of the whole meal. This has helped tremendously in my thinking. Simply increasing the amounts of vegetables that you eat will make a large difference in your health. You should pay particular attention to increasing your leafy green intake. They are powerhouses of health. If you are using high quality natural meats such as grassfed beef, and other organic meats then you may eat as much as you like. I believe our bodies are geared to work properly on the fats and proteins of these meats.
As you fill your plate with these meats and vegetables you’ll thankfully crowd out the simple carbohydrates such as white breads, sugars and sodas. These have very little nutritional value and also react similarly in the body by increasing your blood glucose and insulin levels, which then leads to weight gain. Eating fat does not cause weight gain, carbohydrates do.
Those are three quick and easy things to think about when planning your meals. Keep them in mind and you are already most of the way to proper health.