You want really good nutrition advice? In a world that creates a new book, a new fad diet (Paleo, Whole 30, HMR, the Military Diet, Green Smoothie Cleanse, oh the list is endless) and a new guru each month, it can be hard to sift through the gimmicks, the promises and the “statistics” to find a healthy way of eating, or worse, the dangling promise of infinite weight loss. After studying nutrition in New York City (NYC) and learning from some of the industries greatest, I learned one simple truth.
That truth is easy. We are not all the same – period. What works for one may never, ever work for another. We are not genetically, biologically, emotionally, physically identical and that is what makes us human and above all – unique. We each house our own blue prints, our own DNA and to prescribe one diet plan, one drug, one exercise regime that works for everyone is to fail most.
After spending countless weekends trekking back and forth to NYC, taking notes, studying, I walked away with this. There is no single diet that will work for everyone and therefore you must experiment with yourself. Did you get that? There is not a single diet that will lead you to the golden treasure of health. What?
Having that said, however, there are simple things we can do on a daily basis that will make us feel better, live healthier lives and avoid some diet related illnesses. So, what we can do to restore our health or become healthier? Honestly, it is really easy, despite the plethora of information that is thrown our way.
What you can do to get started:
Experiment with eliminating certain foods from your diet that may trigger health issues. Trigger foods include: caffeine, sugar, dairy, grains, salt, processed foods, alcohol and nicotine. Track your changes and eliminate one food at a time. For me, sugar keeps me up at night and too much caffeine causes anxiety. My over caffeinated self is shaky, agitated, and wreaks havoc on my oral health through grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw while I sleep. Ouch!
Some individuals will be extreme with their experiment. Remember this is your experience, so if you want to try the vegan lifestyle, high protein or whatever plan it may be for a month or more go ahead. Track your changes, and your experiences and if something doesn’t work, be willing to adjust.
For those of us that are not extreme when it comes to eating, there are simple things everyone can do to get started down a road to health and well – being. Those are listed below.
Eat real food, which simply means food that comes from the earth and that is not packaged in a facility. Base most meals around whole foods (unrefined &unprocessed – think earth, not package) with healthy servings of vegetables and fruits. If you eat processed food, do so in small amounts.
Drink plenty of water.
Consume lots of vegetables and fruit (eat organic when possible) each and every day. Be creative with getting fruits and vegetables into your diet. If you make a smoothie, add a handful of fresh spinach, an avocado, a banana, berries and a splash of orange juice, or a milk of choice. If you make muffins, shred zucchini and/or a carrot for extra nutrients.
If you enjoy grains, eat them, but eat the best varieties possible – whole grains, such as, dark flours, remembering the more processed the flour, the less nutrients that will be available to you.
Remember moderation in all aspects of life. This tiny bit of advice is very helpful.
When faced with butter or margarine, always choose butter! Remember, eat real food!
Healthy fats are fabulous! Avocados, nuts, olives, seeds, fish, olive oil, sesame oil, etc.
Enjoy your food and preferably dine with those you love. Research shows we enjoy our food much more when we are in good company.
Eat slowly and take the time to enjoy your food.
Take the time to prepare and cook your own meals whenever possible.
Throw in some exercise, which will boost your mood, clear your mind and get your blood pumping! Get outside whenever possible.
Go back to the basics.
If you feel like eating chocolate, ice cream, or a piece of cake, by all means eat it! Life is short and meant to be enjoyed. Or as Michael Pollan says, “If you want to enjoy baked goods, great, just make sure you are the one doing the baking!”
Remember, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one had not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
Individuals must know that what works for us one day, one week, one month or perhaps even a decade, may not continue to work indefinitely, and that our once “golden” way of eating will inevitably change. That is due to a simple fact, that we as individuals are constantly changing and evolving. Don’t worry, you know what you need, simply be still and listen.
Oh, and one more thing, we were never intended to be dogmatic about our eating. You will find individuals who profess that the only way to maintain our planet is by giving up our reliance on animal products, and others that claim there is nothing wrong with consuming some animal protein as long as animals are raised and treated humanely. This is a hot, emotionally run topic, one that I don’t have time to cover in this post.
If you follow a single dietary plan that works for you, that is excellent, just remember that others may not benefit from eating a solely plant – based diet, Paleo, Military Diet, raw food diet, etc. That is alright, you may not be able to support one way of eating forever either. Life changes, we change and that is part of being human. Be kind to yourself and to each other.
If nutrition interests you and you would like further resources, I have provided a brief list below.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Food Rules, An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Food Politics by Marion Nestle (not affiliated with the company)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Cooked, a documentary series by Michael Pollan is incredible and provides easy to follow and implement ideas everyone will benefit from.
Chef’s Table is an incredible series describing the human side behind the world’s top rated chefs. Emotionally charged, passionate and brilliantly filmed, this documentary series will captivate even the non- foodies among us.