I can save you hundreds of hours of reading about nutrition and diets, right now. You’re welcome!
Seriously though, I’ve been studying nutrition and the various diet programs like crazy, reading and consuming as much information as I can… By NO means have I completed the study – there are seemingly berzillions of thoughts, papers, ideas, books, and articles on the matter!
Regardless, I think a few pieces of advice have stood out as being common, and while varying in importance or emphasis, are seemingly good, solid advice about how to eat better.
#1 Eat – and understand – your veggies
Yes, for goodness’ sake, eat your veggies. Minus Vitamin B12, you can get pretty much everything from vegetables. Vegetables are critical to your well-being! You need them to function – and feel- right! You will not find optimum health without vegetables. But some vegetables are superior to others, for differing reasons.
Corn is a grain, not a vegetable. If you’re serving corn, you should eliminate the other starch/carb from the meal, and still add a vegetable.
Starchy vegetables are good, but in moderation. Peas, potatoes (of all kinds), even carrots – they have nutrients and fiber – but over-consuming those in lieu of other veggies, might have the wrong effect for you.
You know this, man! Dark leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are your body’s friend. Seriously. You should lay each meal on a bed of lettuce. Or spinach. Or some other leafy plant!! Chock full of vitamins and minerals and beneficial fibers, there’s simply no diet that says NO to salad. NOTE!!!!! ICEBERG LETTUCE IS NOT DARK and DOES NOT COUNT. Sorry to use caps. But it’s important to note that iceberg lettuce is practically worthless. Sorry iceberg.
Read up! There are so many veggies…! But I can tell you that the internet is an incredible resource!! Use your favorite search engine to educate yourself on a regular basis. It won’t take long before you have memorized important facts and can make better decisions.
#2 Say “NO” to processed and fast food
Processed and fast food are unanimously terrible for you. Processed foods include most foods that you can save in your pantry for months and months at a time. You should be doing 95% or more of your shopping on the perimeters of your grocery store: Dairy, Deli, Produce.
Fast food is easier to define. Is there a drive-thru? If yes, it’s probably fast food.
Sadly though, even food at “sit-down” restaurants more often than not, counts as fast food too – just because you can eat in and you get a menu, doesn’t mean it’s any healthier than your typical drive-thru joint. Most restaurants use loads of frozen, preserved, and downright icky ingredients.
Processed food though, that’s sneakier. The food industry has done a good job of making it seem like it’s OK and normal to eat lots of shelf-stable goodies. Powders that turn into cheese or other foods that would otherwise go bad in a pantry. Canned soups and dinners. Frozen meals of most kinds. Cereals of most kinds. Practically everything in a box, is processed.
Read the label. If don’t know where the ingredients come from (trees, the ground, an animal, etc.) you probably should put that product down and keep walkin’.
If you’re trying to lose weight, keep your eyes peeled for high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, monosodium glutamate, modified starches, and wheat, where the food wouldn’t usually need wheat. These particular ingredients are doing you wrong in your weight-loss journey.
#3 Soda and “fruit juices” are BAAAAD. Water is GOOOOOOOD.
I’m going to tell you a number that you will hate. Men are only supposed to consume about 7 teaspoons of sugar per day, women, 6. One teaspoon is about 4.2 grams. So we’re talking about 25-30 grams per day. Look at that can of soda: it has about 39 grams of sugar in it. And “Fruit Juices” are similar. Many of them are made from concentrate – not the squeezed goodness of a delicious fruit – and even those that are 100% juice – you should note the sugar content. Juice without fruit is basically, super-sugary. And too much sugar leads to a host of issues including weight gain.
Water, on the other hand, is great. It has no calories or negative effects on us (given it’s clean and safe!) and it is a critical part of survival. Water helps with every function in your body. And quenching your thirst with water might help you drink less of other stuff – which is also good for you. Drink water.
#4 Variety matters. So does moderation.
Eating a variety of foods is good for you! Across the board, experts agree: you should not limit yourself to just a few specific foods. Limiting your foods too severely means you will miss out on important vitamins and minerals, and food combinations that benefit your body. You may miss out on getting good bacteria which is critical to your digestion. Most importantly (if you ask me), you are going to feel that deprivation – now or later – and you won’t be able to sustain your diet.
So inherent in eating a variety, is that you shouldn’t have much room to eat a ton of any one thing. Moderation is key, all of the time. That goes for everything, even salads! Over-doing it with any food will put stress on your body and won’t help you in the long-run.
#5 We need to Re-Re-Define “Diet”
“Diet” has become a bad word. It should refer to the contents of what you eat! But Americans have come to identify a “diet” as something temporary; something that we do to incite rapid weight loss. And the worst part, is that this form of “diet” pretty much always fails in the long run.
If you can’t sustain it forever, it’s a bad diet. So what is a good “diet?” A “lifestyle with healthy eating,” is a good diet! A “diet that meets your nutritional needs and makes you feel satisfied” is a great diet!!
Forget the “diet” that you won’t continue after you lose weight. Imagine enjoying your meals with gusto, and feeling awesome all day, with ample energy. This diet does exist, but it’s not temporary. It’s a lifestyle.
Your healthy diet will fuel you. It will make you feel awesome. It will be a pleasure to eat and a good experience to digest. And it will be something you can pretty much adhere to, at least 95% of the time! That’s a good diet!
#6 You are what you eat – but we are all unique… so no “canned” advice is perfect
Eat right and you will live better, longer, and have a better chance of avoiding medical issues. Don’t eat right and sooner or later, you will suffer the consequences.
But eating “right” differs from person to person! Each and every different book has its own list of reasons you should put your faith in its theories or analysis. But something that no book’s author can deny is: we are all vastly different from one another. Therefore, the rule is, you must listen to your body, and make adjustments as you go along.
Don’t ignore good advice because it seems inconvenient, difficult, or even, expensive. Nothing is more costly than bad health, anyway – so take care of your body in every way you can! Your food is an investment in your health. Invest wisely.