When it comes to food and nutrition we are overwhelmingly inundated with mixed messages and misinformation.
Every diet rationale comes with an equally convincing counter argument. It’s no wonder we are exhausted before we have even started.
I’ve spent countless hours, attending classes, reading books, listening to nutrition lectures and even testing diets on myself to try to decipher the perfect way of eating. My most recent resource has been podcasts. While entertaining, there seems to be an awful lot of self proclaimed experts when it comes to food. I feel it’s because food is a subject that everyone participates in and has emotions attached to. I am at once fascinated and annoyed by all of the conflicting thoughts.
During the process, I totally gave up on the idea of coming up with the perfect diet. The fact is, everyone is different and many diets or eating plans can have positive effects on an unhealthy body. Instead, I decided to focus on finding the common thread. There had to be some universal ideas that in some way connected most food plans and were in line with my nutrition education and experience. Through this process, I was able to put together some universal truths. Of course there will be a few extreme diet outliers, but most scientifically backed diets have many of the items I have outlined below. I call them the “Fueling Fundamentals”, and I feel they are the easiest things you can do to reap the largest rewards.
Establish your eating window to be no more than 10-12 hours. I personally start eating at 6am and stop between 4-6pm
Listen to your body and eat when hungry during your window. That doesn't mean eat the whole time - just start really paying attention to the signals, and respond appropriately
This means fewer processed foods. Choose foods that are grown in your area, require minimal transportation to get to you and are grown or raised humanely with less pesticides and additives.
If it’s in season locally, buy and eat it. That means don’t eat strawberries from Spain in the winter. Your choices should require less assistance to be ripe at the appropriate time, be more budget friendly and support your health needs during that time of year. It makes it fun and provides motivation and opportunities to try new things and get out of meal ruts.
Ok this where most meal plans go off the rails. It doesn't have to be so complicated. Eat a mix of foods that consist of:
Proteins: Good quality proteins. Both meat or non-meat sources can work, though you do have to apply more effort into your selections to get balance if you go a non-meat route. Protein should be a part of all of your daily meals.
Carbohydrates: Lots of vegetables, kale and chard, carrots, peppers, mushrooms to name just a few - Eat green - Get lean.
Fats: Yes they are great but don’t go crazy because too much of even a good thing will ultimately be stored as body fat. Fat sources such as olive oil, avocados, egg yolks and nuts are great natural ways to improve skin, hair, and overall health - Just keep it to small amounts.
I think by now, almost all food has been considered a food you should never eat . But I will address some of common ones here:
Dairy - If you're allergic or lactose intolerant, this is obviously not a good choice.If dairy is not a problem I still suggest selecting high quality whole milk over processed and skim - just not a gallon a day. A small organic, grass-fed, full fat, greek yogurt , a little chèvre or some feta are all good choices. When it comes to cooking and added milk in recipes, I recommend almond milk or preferred non-dairy source, provided it’s not soy
Fruit: One - two pieces a day - some berries, a banana, apple, or pumpkin all have nutrition we need but avoid fruit juicing where fiber is lost and calories from fruit sugar add up too fast.
Sweets: Most people enjoy a treat every now and then, some more than others. Once you are eating healthy, you will crave sweets less and when you do, I think it’s best to eat a small piece of what you want, rather than more items trying to avoid the one you have deemed to be bad. My favorite is a small piece of dark chocolate or a tiny cup of dark chocolate mousse. Choosing small amounts of good quality flavorful treats on occasion will make you less interested in the typical halloween candy that always seems to hang around too long.
Bread: If you have celiac or a real gluten intolerance, then you can skip this part. If you are going to indulge in bread, choose a whole grain product with minimal processing.
Pasta: A small serving of pasta on occasion is fine if you enjoy it but keep it more as a side than a main dish.
Emotional Mindful Eating
We all eat for emotional reasons. People eat when stressed, or sad or happy. I eat sometimes just because it’s Fall - whatever your trigger is, just take a moment before you eat and think if you are really hungry. The more you do this, the more aware you become of fueling your body and less about trying to heal another need.
Be realistic. There are no evil or bad food is just food. When you eat something you think you shouldn’t, or you ate too much of don't beat yourself up. Just regroup, think about why you ate it, and come up with a way to deal with it differently
Remove Triggers. Other people don't have more self control or willpower than you . They most likely have just reduced the number of triggers around them. We will all break down and do something we shouldn't if faced with constant temptation. Don't make yourself work that hard. Simply reduce the opportunities for your body to give in. Don't buy food you have a hard time resisting. If it’s not around, it’s not part of your daily eating equation.
Set yourself up for success. Do food prep to make healthy cooking less of a chore when you are hungry. Have good to go snacks. Bring food with you when healthy food options are not available.
Don’t listen to others
Just because Johnny lost 30 lbs eating only meat and drinking bullet coffee and wants you to do the same doesn’t mean this is the path for you. Politely tell him you are glad that worked for him and then You Do You. You don't need don’t need to talk about or explain your healthy eating plan just go about it. Develop a positive relationship with food and you will feel and (bonus), look amazing.
Fit In a Peanut Butter World is a blog created to provide information as it relates to skin, body and food health.