This is the first in a serious of posts on my Personal Prevention Plan for making sure I live my best life today in order to live a healthy and quality life for many, many years to come. Check out my original posts on prevention here and here.
Whoa…there’s some loaded advice if I’ve ever heard it (or given it). We live in the age of information and there is no end in sight to the conflicting evidence and studies of what exactly a “healthy” diet is. And if I’m being totally honest…I can’t really tell you what a healthy diet is either.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (a program that I really, really, really want to do one day if I can ever afford it!) teaches its students about what they call bio-individuality: that is, there is not one right way of eating because all of our bodies are different. The right diet for you will vary depending on your “age, health, activity level, where [you] live, lifestyle goals, personal tastes, and preferences.” I don’t know about you, but I think that’s probably the smartest approach to nutrition that I’ve ever seen.
One thing I know for certain about food…never trust anyone who tells you that there is only one right way to eat. It’s simply not true. Chances are they just want you to believe that their way is right and the more people that believe them, the more money they make. On twitter and blogs, I see people just jump from one bandwagon to another depending on the hot trend of the moment. Seriously…you went from being a “yogi vegan” to a “bacon-inhaling paleo crossfitter” because that is what’s #trending?? COME ON PEOPLE…we are all intelligent and we have to draw the line somewhere.
What I suggest for you is to experiment. I’ve talked before about how it took me a while to find my nutrition nook. There’s no shame in feeling it out. You don’t have to start a strict program right away and commit to an all-or-nothing approach. You can pick and choose. There is no need for a label in relation to your food choices. We like to label ourselves because it makes us feel special or that we belong, but in the end I think a label-free existence can help us more.
So what’s the point of this Eat Better blog post anyway? Well, I can only tell you what “eating better” means for me personally. Ideally, I’d like most of my days to look something like this…
As I’ve talked about before in regards to my personal eating philosophy, a combo of raw/fresh produce, complex carbs, and healthy plant-based protein is what makes me feel my best. Just look at all of that color! Add in some more fruits and veggies for snacks as well as some greens to the smoothie (which I usually do after I take a pretty pic for the blog) and I’d call that a pretty good day of eats: both nutritious and tasty
I’m not going to pretend that every single day does or will look like that, but if I can have 80% or more of my days looking so good, then I will be happy. I’m definitely leaving wiggle room for the good things in life like fries, chocolate, and pumpkin pie (I can’t wait!). Though these foods don’t do much nutritionally for my body, they certainly do something for my soul. And sometimes that is just as important as eating a salad!
My diet most closely resembles this Vegan Food Pyramid, although there are (of course) some differences; mainly that I don’t eat many fortified non-dairy products (I do use lots of almond milk but no soy milk or soy yogurts and I do occasionally indulge in vegan cheeses) and I eat way more nuts and nut butters than suggested. It just works for my body. Some people could use less grains and beans and others more. Remember, it’s all about bio-individuality.
If I were to give you advice on how to improve your diet, I would say that we can all benefit by eating more fresh produce. Greens and veggies should be at the top of the list and fresh fruit is a life force in and of itself. The more fresh produce we eat, the better we feel and the more we glow! Seriously, there are studies that show the marked difference in skin color and glow after upping the amount of fresh veggies consumed.
Try adding in one green smoothie or raw veggie salad per day and see if you don’t feel better after a week. Other suggestions would be to eat more whole grains, less (to no) processed foods, and less sugar. Basically, focus on eating REAL FOOD. This seems like a “duh” thing to say, but next time you are at your grocery store really stop and look around…there are more “food-like” products these days than actual food. Focus on food that is the ingredient…not the package that contains 25 ingredients.
There’s a saying that we’ve all heard many times before: You Are What You Eat. This is probably the truest information when it comes to our food choices. All of our body’s cells are constantly rebuilding and they use the food and water we consume to do this. That being said, don’t you want the best building blocks possible for yourself? Don’t you want to feed your body food that nourishes it from the cell up? I know I do.
Beyond that simple advice, it is really up to you. Only you can take charge of the food on your plate and make sure it is the most nutritious for your body. Only you can experiment to find out what works best and leaves you feeling amazing. Only you live in your body…don’t you want to feed it right?