With so many different styles of eating it can be difficult to choose a diet that is right for you. I’ll preface this by saying that I hold a bachelors degree in nutrition (dietetic science) and am one year away from holding my masters degree in nutrition and food science, I LOVE this stuff (this nutrition stuff that is), and I’m here to help …that’s why I’m posting …questions are welcomed.
Some of the most distinguished diets I’ve seen trending are vegetarianism (and its many variations), veganism (truly set apart from vegetarianism in that no animal product of any kind is consumed or purchased), diets which focus mainly on protein (any where from 150g – 300g’s per day), high fiber diets, raw food diets, Ayurvedic, fruititarians, Paleo, diets high in unsaturated fats (high in omega fatty acids), gluten free, organic only, macrobiotic, locavore, low-added sugar diets, still some Atkins and South Beach followers out there, and the list continues. For the next 30 days you can tune in to this blog and learn a thing-or-two about nutrition, diets, and how you’d like to start eating.
So how do you choose a diet anyway?
From my experience of working with others, the typical American selects a diet based on a few things:
1.) Who has had success with the diet you’re considering?
2.) Were they famous?
3.) How many pounds have other people lost?
4.) How time consuming, expensive or difficult is it to follow?
These are valid questions, and I don’t discourage them, but re-thinking these questions would be of greater value. There are key questions that we can ask ourselves which will provide answers that lead to lasting changes. The goal of planning a healthy nutrition plan is to live a diet that brings lasting health to our lives. I say “live a diet” because we should live it. It should not be an after thought or something we must do, we should be in the moment as we nourish our bodies with food. Quick fix diets should be avoided since they typically bring more harm than good (such as, hunger which leads to weight-gain, jitters from diet pills, diarrhea or constipation for imbalanced meals, anxiety, and more). This week we will investigate the first question of a 4-part series. Anyone who is considering making dietary changes will find the following questions helpful in the process of determining the right diet for you. There are also basic suggestions that fit into any diet and will lead you to optimal health.
1.) How meaningful is your diet to you?
Your diet should be very meaningful to you! It’s the sustaining life force that allows us to thrive everyday. The food we place into our bodies is transformed into brand new cells. The more alive and vital your foods are, the more alive and vital you will be. You will literally be growing new cells which are different because they are stronger, healthier and happier. Your food translates into your being. This leads me to strongly believe that we should follow a diet which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just how much is a lot?
Try to eat a vegetable with every meal. Stick with leafy green vegetables as your main go-to veg. You can easily add them to a sandwich, salad, or even us large lettuce leaves as a wrap. Take a look at this lunch idea and see how easy it is to add more greens to a sandwich (and you can do this to any sandwich). Also include less starchy vegetables and replace them with veggies like peppers, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini (to name a few). Starchy vegetables are foods like peas, corn, and potato.
Increase your vegetables slowly, but eventually aim for 9 cups of fresh leafy green vegetables a day. If you’re thinking 9 cups is a lot, let me explain where this number came from. Many studies have shown that, in order to prevent disease, 8 cups of vegetables per day has significantly reduced the risk. It has also helped those who are already in a disease state like heart disease. Food can be medicine to us, but we have to take a pharmaceutical dose for it to be.
We often hear that exercising for 30 minutes a day is a must, but 60 minutes per day will really keep us healthy, and 90 minutes per day will help to reduce weight and keep us healthy. While I’m not a big proposer of the exercise formula per say, it does relate to the amount of fruits and vegetables we should eat quite nicely.
For example, if eating 5 servings of fruits/vegetables a day is a must, then eating more of them is better, but 9 cups of them will significantly improve your health. The very popular “Paleo” way of eating also mentions eating 9 cups per day also. I will not be promoting any one diet here, but rather pulling the pieces from several ways of eating which I find to be excellent . However focusing on greens is key because they aren’t starchy, low in calories, full of vital nutrition, and very low in sugar. So I say aim for more vegetables than fruit, and go for organic as best as you can.
Greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll, a naturally oxygenating powerhouse that heals the body inside and out, preserves youthful skin and protects our vital organs. As for fruit, several pieces or servings of fruits should be consumed, just be aware of the sugar content. For example, grapes are much higher in sugar than berries, and that’s something to consider if you’re having several servings per day.
Hopefully you are beginning to see the value your diet has in your life. Our eating is the one system we have full control over (most of the time 😉 ). Making small changes is the best behavioral change we can make because small change/s lead to lasting changes. It is much easier to commit to something small, and add onto it, than it is to turn your world up-side-down with a major change. Visit this blog once a week, for the next 30 days, and just see what pieces you may be able to add to your own lifestyle. Do your best! Don’t get hung up on numbers or calories, do your best. Ask as many questions as you’d like, I’m here to help.
Next week we’ll continue this topic with question no. 2.