Now that my friends and family know I'm a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner they're coming to me with questions such as,
"What is the most ideal diet?"
"What should I eat?"
"Should I eat a certain way?"
To be honest, these questions are not my favorite to answer. What works for me may not necessarily work for you, and vice versa. There is no one-size-fits-all ideal diet because we are all different.
D-I-E-T is a four letter word - both literally and figuratively. It's not a word I like. I find that for most people it comes with a negative connotation and can create a stress response in some. In fact, a recent study even suggested that those who have a previous history of an eating disorder may actually delay recovery if they try to follow a strict diet. Ditching a dieting mentality is something I want to promote.
Instead of focusing on finding an ideal diet, I suggest people focus on some basic food rules. Of course these rules can be modified to fit your specific needs and beliefs. But, in general, these are the rules I try to follow and promote.
Eat Animal Proteins
Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist who studied nutrition in the first half of the 20th century. He traveled around the globe studying the eating habits of primitive cultures. He was actually looking for a primitive culture that didn't consume any animal products. But, to his dismay, he couldn't find one. That's right. There is no such thing as a primitive vegan culture.I know this may be a controversial thing since you have probably heard that veganism is healthy. It's not. It's very restrictive and lacking in crucial vitamins and minerals.
I don't want you to eat just any animal protein. Choose clean sources from grass-fed, pasture-raised, heritage-breed, wild-caught, organic animals. True, it costs a little more. But it's for your health, and I think that's worth it. If you're not into eating animals, at least consider eating organic, pastured eggs and occasional raw, whole dairy products if you can tolerate dairy.
Eat Non-GMO Foods
This should be a no-brainer. The long-term effects of genetically modified crops on human health have not been studied. Therefore, GMO foods are best avoided.
Avoid Overly-Processed Foods
This should also be a no-brainer. The majority of processed foods are detrimental to your health. They're generally full of refined carbohydrates, sugar, genetically modified ingredients, low-quality oils, preservatives, etc. You just don't need to be putting that stuff in your body. A recent study has found that overly-processed foods are linked to an increased risk of cancer, among other things.
Eat High Fiber Vegetables
During meal times, vegetables should take up at least half of your plate.Choose vegetables high in fiber and low in starches. Excellent choices include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, leafy greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, beets, radishes, and zucchini. Aim for organic vegetables if your budget allows.
Eat the Right Kinds of Fats
The low-fat craze of the late 1900s is long gone, yet there are still quite a few people that are clinging to low-fat dogma. Get over your fear of fat! Not all fat is bad for you. What's bad for you is a diet low in fat. It can be detrimental to liver and gallbladder function, impede hormone production, and increase cravings for processed junk. Eating the wrong kinds of fats can be just as detrimental. Consume extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, minimally processed nut oils (macadamia and walnut are good choices), butter, lard, ghee, and tallow. Avoid hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, and vegetable oils like canola, cottonseed, safflower and sunflower oil.
Consume Fermented Foods
Dr. Weston A. Price found that many of the primitive cultures he came across consumed fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir. Again, these fermented foods should come from clean sources and be minimally processed. A quick internet search will lead you to a bunch of homemade recipes for these traditional foods.
Don't Stress Too Much About Your Diet
Worrying too much about what to eat, or counting calories can be a huge stressor to you. I'm all for following the above food rules. But I'm also all for knowing your limits and figuring out what works for you. Melissa Hartwig Urban of Whole30 fame actually wrote a book called Food Freedom Forever that I think is an excellent resource if you're trying to get away from a dieting mentality.