I WANT TO BE HEALTHY, BUT WHAT DO I EAT?
Updated: Nov 24, 2018
This is a common and frustrating question. We know we have to make a change, but what can we do? If the answer was easy it would be more obvious, wouldn't it?
One quick google search on what is "healthy" will bombard you with confusing and contradicting information. My goal is to make sense of this wild health world we so desperately want to understand.
Finding what is ideal and nutritious for us as individuals is essential to reaching our health goals. To move toward optimal health we can follow some basic rules that ensure our choices are in line with our intentions.
Food should always be:
3. Good Quality
Sounds simple, right? The concepts are easy to grasp, however embracing them is the challenge here. You have to feel empowered to adopt these beliefs and habits.
It is within our reach to create a lifestyle and diet that nourishes us when we follow these three simple guidelines for our consumption.
1. Natural Foods
When seeking out natural foods, look for items that are unprocessed or minimally processed. A good rule of thumb is 5 ingredients or less that you can recognize and pronounce! This helps keep the consumption of artificial colors, harmful additives, and unnatural substances to a minimum.
The closer plant foods are to their natural form, the better! Processing can strip nutrients through roasting, drying, extrusion or milling. This often leads food companies to "fortifying" their products with additional vitamins or minerals. The irony is that limiting processing would have retained the natural nutrient profile they are trying to mimic. Additionally, foods that are closest to their whole unprocessed form naturally have a high nutrient to calorie ratio. Bonus!
Foods that are fresh from the farm or garden are packed with nutrients and bursting with flavour! This is the ideal we should seek when making food choices. Foods that travel from other countries take much longer to reach our stores and lose some of their nutrient value as time passes. However, these options are better than not eating produce at all! Remember to do what you can wherever you are on your journey to health.
Fermented foods are an excellent way to breath new life into food. Fermentation is an ancient (but simple!) technique that preserves food for long periods of time. Healthy bacteria strains, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium thrive in these foods and are incredibly beneficial for our gut microbiome. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, are all exampled of alive, fermented foods that contribute to optimal health.
Sprouting is another way to create life in foods. Sprouting from seeds and legumes increases the vitamin content significantly and they are a tremendous source of antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. They are more digestible as the enzymes that have been inhibited (to allow them to be stored) are neutralized and come to life!
3. Good Quality
Good Quality foods include organic, non-GMO,
Regarding animal sources, looking for animals that were raised without the use of antibiotics, GMOs, or hormones, in their natural environment, is ideal. A happy and healthy animal will provide optimal nourishment, along with benefits to their life and the health of the planet!
When purchasing these products, look for indications that the animals were Grass-fed, Antibiotic Free, Free Run, Organic, Non-GMO, etc.
Local & Made with Love!
Supporting your community and buying local is extremely important in these modern times. If we expect farmers to continue to provide us healthy, organic food options we must support those who do it right.
Good, Better, Best
In an ideal world we would be able to follow these guidelines perfectly and be optimally healthy. But often we have barriers in our way: A lack of time or finances, limited access to health foods, confusion about what is "healthy", inability to travel to health stores/farms, etc.
Next time you are at the grocery store, take some time and check out the labels on your regular purchases. Are there any similar products that contain less additives? Are there organic options for your regular purchases? (Check out Environmental Working Group for the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php)
Wherever you are at right now, nothing has to be perfect. If you can get fresh foods, that is good! If you can get organic, even better! If you can find a local organic farmer and support them, that could be best!
Small steps in the right direction slowly add up to big changes for your health.