The wonder of eating is the pleasure and enjoyment it brings. The struggle is what, how much, and when to eat. Information to support all possible combinations exists. Having to filter all of this information is the curse. Our ancestors didn’t have these struggles. There was a limit to the choices available and that is still the case in developing nations. However, in 1st world countries, the choices are endless.
This article continues with the theme of Simplifying Wellness. This article presents general tips related to our food consumption.
TIP #1 Think of your body as a shrine.
Think about your body as a sacred place. We only have one and it will respond to what we offer it. Everything we eat either provides it with energy, health and wellness or with the potential to cause illness and fatigue. Why not go with the former? Is it worth the cost of the latter if you never feel your best?
TIP #2 Buyer Beware
- Eat the rainbow; red, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple. The more colorful your plate of food, the more likely it is healthy.
- To help with #1, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where the healthy foods usually are.
- Avoid processed foods and simple sugars and starches. Simple sugars have pure sugar, honey, agave, or artificial sweeteners. The majority of carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates (starches) and naturally occurring sugars (fruit) rather than processed or refined sugars (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19534.htm).
- IDEA #1 — if you are a yogurt eater, try plain yogurt rather than sweetened yogurt. Add fruit and/or cinnamon to add some sweetness. Give yourself a chance to like new foods. You may not immediately warm to the change but if you give it time, you usually will.
- Complex sugars are in fruit. Fruit juice does not provide what whole fruit provides. Simple starches are those that have been processed, such as white rice and white flour. Whole grains and starches such as winter squashes, sweet potatoes, buckwheat groats, kamut etc., brown rice are better choices. The goal is to eat foods that are as close to their origin as possible. Every layer of processing removes some nutrients, e.g., Steel Cut oats vs rolled oats. See TIP # 3.
- Read labels. If you are buying packaged foods, read the label. If it has a laundry list of ingredients, avoid it. Don’t even read it. Just put it back if it has more than 8 ingredients. This is not an assessment of the health benefits but rather a tip to help simplify your choices.
- Your plate should be ⅔ veggies and ⅓ everything else.
- Be leary of any advertising claims on food packaging. Keep this in mind as a rule of thumb. Ignore these claims and instead focus on knowing the foods that add value to your health. That way you will know what to eat without reading the claims.
TIP #3 — Food as Medicine
- Food can turn genes on and off.
- Eating the wrong foods, namely refined carbohydrates and high fat foods causes weight gain (1).
- Refined Sugar is addictive and negatively impacts your health and weight.
- Vitamins and supplements should, for the most part, not be necessary if you are eating a healthy diet and do not have any medical conditions that require medications. Supplement advertising and information is among the most confusing out there. Can you imagine taking all of the supplements that are touted as being good for one thing or another. You would spend all day planning and taking these supplements. It is far easier to eat healthily, thus minimizing the need for most supplements.
- Vegetables, fruit, healthy grains or starches are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are necessary for a healthy, disease resistant life. If you eat a variety of colors you will benefit from more of them. These foods also have medicinal properties.
- Variety in what fruits and veggies you eat better ensures that you are getting lots of different vitamins, minerals etc. thus minimizing deficiencies in any single one.
Fuhrman, Joel MD, Eat to Live, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY, 2011.