Food seems to be a sensitive topic these days. Nobody wants to be told what to eat and it seems like nutrition is becoming more and more tribal. Too much attention is coming from the mainstream media and even more amateurs who are trying to capitalize on the expense of your well-being. The mass confusion is what the food industry is thriving on! I base my beliefs on hard science rather than the latest diet fads, in conjunction with this, Michael Pollan has great general advice on nutrition: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Let's break it down a little bit! The western diet is clearly not serving us well, making us sick and fat, we can’t deny that. The majority of chronic lifestyle diseases and general dips in performance can be fixed with good nutrition. How? Some simple tips:
1. Eat real food that is as close to its natural state as possible. It's hard to overeat real food since it is nutrient dense and fills you up quicker. On the other hand, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners etc. (the list is endless) are calorie dense and do not provide you with any nutritional value, and are actually engineered to be addictive and cause cravings. On top of that, they damage your gut lining and yield to a wide array of problems. It takes a little while (up to 2 weeks) to reshape your gut microbiome. Once you introduce new and healthy foods, your gut forms the environment around it and starts sending different hunger signals to your brain.
2. You probably heard the saying, "you are what you eat", it is not quite accurate, you actually are what you eat ATE. It means that the animal products that are mass-produced come from low-quality sources, (Grain fed, antibiotic filled etc.) and those antibiotic and low quality residues ultimately end up in your body. The meat that you find in your regular supermarket is definitely not serving your well-being. If you choose to consume animal products, ensure their quality. Pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef and wild caught salmon. Sounds expensive? Well, it is still going to be cheaper than doctor's visits and/or cancer (I know, sounds extreme). At the end of the day, you are the consumer and you have the power to demand high-quality products. Overall, I suggest that you start pushing meat to the side of your plate and consume it more as a side dish rather than the main course. Your mother was right, load up on veggies!
3. Shop on the outside perimeter of the supermarket or find a local farmer's market. That's where real, whole healthy foods are waiting for you with no colorful labels that are screaming, "Healthy choice" and other nonsense. Avoid packaged foods that have more than 5 ingredients.
4. Limit your food consumption window to 12 hours. You might say, "Oh, easy, I already do that", but we don’t realize that the sugar, cream or milk that often ends up in our morning coffee or other mindless snacks kicks off our digestive system, with nothing to digest, causing extreme cravings later in the day.
All of these tips can be useful if you know something about nutrition, however they might not mean much if you want to start eating healthy. Find a coach who can guide you through the process of building sustainable habits!