The nutritional world is overwhelming, and there are so many different schools of thoughts. Could it be we are all actually trying to accomplish the same goal in different ways?
There is no right or wrong,
The diet culture is to me a strange phenomenon. My priority is always to optimise health, increase healthspan and make sure the foundations are dialed in.
I strongly believe that eating/food shouldn’t be so complicated, it isn’t something we need to obsess about, punish ourselves with, have anxiety over – it is nourishment, a form of celebration for many, a gathering of families and friends, it is a reflection of how we take care of ourselves.
Most of all, we need to tap into what feels right, what you can be consistent with and what makes you happy.
You can definitely eat these…
These are pointers that most of us agree on in the nutrition world.
- EAT REAL FOOD in its WHOLE STATE. This should always be your primary goal.
- DITCH PROCESSED FOODS AND SUGAR. Follow a simple protocol of no sugar, flour or refined carbohydrates, of all kinds.
- EAT LOTS OF PLANTS. The deeper the colors and the more variety, the better. This provides a rich phytonutrient content index to protect against most diseases.
- GO ORGANIC. So low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. Probably no or low GMO foods. No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken-chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
- GET GOOD QUALITY FATS. Omega-3 fats for all. And most camps advise good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
- EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN. Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
- SOURCE RESPONSIBLY. If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass-fed. If you are eating fish you should choose low-mercury and low-toxin containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish.
The blurred lines
These are blurred lines in the nutrition world.
- Both the paleo and vegan camps shun dairy and for good reason. See my blog on Why I Don’t Eat Dairy about the problems with dairy in our diet.
- While some can tolerate it, for most it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and may increase (not decrease) the risk of osteoporosis.
- For many of us, gluten creates inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and even weight struggles.
- Grains are relatively new to our evolutionary history. I’m not a fan of grains personally, as they can raise blood sugar and disrupt the gut if not correctly prepared.
- Black rice and quinoa are options and I do recommend them to some clients.
- Beans are a great source of fiber, protein and minerals. But they do cause digestive problems for some.
- If you are diabetic, a mostly bean diet can trigger spikes in blood sugar. Again, moderate amounts are okay – meaning up to one cup a day.
- Some are concerned that beans contain lectins that create inflammation or phytates that impair mineral absorption.
- Here’s the sticky point. All meat is not created equally. Is it feedlot beef or grass fed?
- Eating sustainably raised, clean meat, poultry and lamb and other esoteric meats such as ostrich, bison or venison as part a healthy diet is not likely harmful and is very helpful in reducing triglycerides, raising HDL (or good cholesterol), lowering blood sugar, reducing belly fat, reducing appetite, raising testosterone and increasing muscle mass.
- On the other hand, eating a lot of meat puts pressure on the planet – more water use, more climate change and more energy inputs.
- Eat meat as a side dish or condiment and only consume grass fed and sustainably-raised.
- For years we were taught that cholesterol is bad, that eggs contain cholesterol, so they must be bad; so we all suffered through years of egg white omelettes, leaving the vitamins, nutrients and brain fats like choline in the garbage.
- Now eggs have been exonerated and are not associated with increased risk of heart disease or any impact on cholesterol.
- They are a great low-cost source of vital nutrients and protein.
- If you are worried about mercury in fish (and you should be), then choose small, omega-3 fat-rich fish such as sardines or wild salmon.
- If you are a vegan and don’t want to eat anything with a mother for moral or religious reasons, then that’s perfectly okay.
- But it’s critical to get omega-3 fats, and not just ALA (or alpha linolenic acid) found in plants. You need pre-formed DHA, which is what most of your brain is made from.
- The good news: You can get it from algae. Everyone needs vitamin D3.
- PROCESSED FOODS AND SUGAR. Follow a simple protocol of no sugar, flour or refined carbohydrates, of all kinds.
- ALL INDUSTRIAL SEED & VEGETABLE OILS. Industrial seed and vegetable oils are highly processed refined products that you should not only avoid cooking with – but avoid altogether.
Remember, the purpose of food is to nourish the body, lower blood sugar levels and keep unhealthy inflammation at bay.
I believe in food as medicine and I encourage my clients to be mindful of this every time they plate or plan a meal.