Pillars of Health Series
With all the diet plans out there (Paleo, Vegan, Atkins, Mediterranean), people often ask me, ”What should I be eating?” The answer can be complicated and is different for each person and changes as events in our life change. There is hope, however. A more important question is “How should I eat?” Here are some simple guidelines to help clear away the confusion that can be applied to everyone in any situation.
1. Eat Food
What is food? If you can’t read the packaging on a label without a degree in advanced chemistry, then, chances are, it isn’t food. Also, if it couldn’t be made at home, then it isn’t food. This means, if the ingredients are not something you would find in your kitchen, then you shouldn’t eat it.
2. Eat A Rainbow
Have you ever wondered what makes fruits different colors? It turns out that those colors are important for your health. Red foods contains lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin; orange and yellow foods are high in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C; greens are high in chlorophyll, fiber, folate, and calcium; blue and purple are resveratrol; and white is beta-glucans. And, while all that may sound like sciency mumbo jumbo, they have a big impact on your health.
Together, these powerhouses work to maintain good health, and, by eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, you not only ensure that you get an assortment of nutrients but also get variation in your diet.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water, and every cell in our body needs water to function. Dehydration is linked to headaches, kidney stones, excessively low blood pressure, and a wide variety of other health complaints. There is no substitute for fresh clean water, and the body’s water needs cannot be made up with drinking soda.
4. Enjoy Your Food
Remember when your mother told you not to play with your food? On this, your mother is not always right. As any chef will tell you, presentation is just as important to a meal as the food itself. Food is about nourishing the soul as much as the body. If food were just about nutrients and calories, we could survive on multi-vitamins and “heath shakes,” but a diet consisting of just simple nutrients is lacking in the joy of food. Eating can be a ritual and a pleasure. This could mean eating in silence while paying close attention to your food or social gatherings enjoying good conversation.
5. Slow down
Proper digestion only works when we are relaxed. When we eat on the run…while driving, working, or rushing from place to place… our body is not in the proper frame to eat. This can lead to indigestion, gas and bloating, and poor assimilation of nutrients. In addition, eating too quickly doesn’t give the brain time to realize the body is full. Slow, mindful eating often leads to eating less because we realize we are full sooner.
*The information presented here is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. Any health care concerns should be followed up with your health care provider.
For more, simple dietary advice, check out Food Rules: an eater’s manual by Michael Pollan.
"Try to spend as much time enjoying as meal as it took to prepare it"
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