“Let your food be thy medicine, and your medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates
Food is energy for your body. Nothing more, nothing less. Diet and nutrition are two of the most hotly debated topics in health, and rightfully so, because they're the cornerstones to living a healthy lifestyle. There are many popular diets out there to follow, but I'm going to share the basic principle of healthy eating that is true across them all:
Our bodies crave nutrients and the best sources of these nutrients are from whole foods. Focus on food quality and on eating foods that are in as close to their natural state as possible. That's it.
Don't get caught up in labeling your dietary habits either. It doesn't matter whether you are "paleo" or "vegan." And although both of these diets offer a great framework for nutrition, labeling how you eat by placing yourself in one category or another only leads to a dogmatic approach toward eating. I believe this is unproductive and causes feelings of guilt when you're not able to follow a particular diet exactly as it's written. Understand that nobody is going to be perfect about their diet all of the time. Whether you're out to dinner with friends or traveling, just do the best that you can in the situation you're in.
Tips for eating more nutritiously:
- Learn how to cook - Cooking for yourself is empowering and a great way to take control of exactly what kind of foods you are putting in your body. Preparing food ahead of time will also save you time and money.
- Focus on plant-based nutrients - Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber; cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient rich; aim to eat a rainbow of colors daily.
- Treat protein as a side - Incorporate lean protein such as fish, chicken, or beef in your meals but portion it as a side to keep the focus on your plant-based nutrients.
- Enjoy healthy fats - Avocados, nuts and seeds are a great source of monounsaturated fats. Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are rich in polyunsaturated fat, including Omega-3’s. Avoid trans fats found in processed foods.
- Drink plenty of water - Get a water bottle and carry it around with you everywhere. Drink from it when you’re thirsty.
- Limit sugar & sodium - This can easily be accomplished by avoiding processed foods. Opt for natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and raw honey, but use sparingly.
- Embrace moderation - Indulge in your favorite "not-so-healthy" foods once in a while and enjoy yourself.
- Make changes gradually - Eating habits are formed over our lifetime -- it's a marathon, not a sprint.
So what's the best diet plan for you? The answer is: the one that you stick with.
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