Principles for Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is the foundation for health & wellness, food is natures perfect medicine. If you’re not feeling great, your probably not eating very healthy. When you eat better, you FEEL better.
So what is healthy eating? Depending on who you ask, the range of answers can be quite different, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan! All this can be super confusing, so here are my 7 principles to help you eat a healthy and nutritional diet without all the labels.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. -Hippocrates
Eat an assortment of fruits and veggies: adequate consumption has been shown to prevent and sometimes resolve chronic disease.
- Eat a variety of colors of fruits and veggies daily
- Fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients & phytochemicals (anti-carcinogenic plant chemicals)
Reduce exposure to pesticides: there are in excess of 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on or added to food crops annually. Pesticide exposure can damage the detoxification mechanisms of the body which can lead to cancer and other diseases.
The halogenated hydrocarbon family of pesticides are the most problematic since they persist in the environment (they do not go away) and cause estrogen related health problems. Keep in mind that it is not just the skin that the pesticide can permeate but it can also get in through the root system.
Research found that in a group of 2-4 year old, those that consumed organic fruits and veggies had 1/6 of the concentrations of pesticides in their systems in comparison to kids who ate non-organic fruits and veggies (including fruit juice).
Still not convinced? Check out this interesting video that documents the effect of organic food and pesticide exposure:
Foods High in Pesticide Residue:
- Imported Nectarines
- Imported Grapes
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Winter Squash
- Fatty meat
How to reduce the pesticides in your diet:
- Buy organic & free-range over conventional products when available.
- Choose a plant-based diet (conventional fruits and veggies still contain less pesticides than meat and dairy)
- Buy Local (get to know the produce manager of your local supermarket so you can ask for what you want, join a CSA, shop at the farmers market and ask how the farmers grow the food)
- Buy in season: organic fruits and veggies that are in season are often on sale reducing their cost.
- TIP: Use a natural biodegradable cleanser to clean food, I recommend mixing equal parts distilled water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, add 10 drops lemon essential oil. Spray mixture on fruit/ veggies to be cleaned (while in colander), let sit for 5 minutes and rinse well. I have found this helps keep my produce fresher longer since the vinegar also kills any mold spores on it.
Eliminate Processed Foods ,which usually contain high amounts of refined sugars and white flour products. Refined sugar and white flour are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream without the original nutrients like vitamins and fiber which causes unstable blood sugar. Having unstable blood sugar can produce an over-reaction and cause too much insulin to be released, leading to hypoglycemia. To function properly our brain and nervous system needs constant adequate insulin levels.
Often processed food also contains GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) which are plants or animals that have had their genes altered by scientists in order to be resistant to herbicide or pesticide exposure, this allows the farmer to spray the field with pesticides and herbicides to kill the pests and weeds without harming the crop.
Proponents of GMOs say that they are needed in order to adequately support the growing population, we need a supply of food that doesn’t spoil as quickly and is pest resistant.
Opponents say that GMO crops continually require more and more chemicals to control pests and weeds since the pests adapt turning into super bugs and super weeds that are resistant to the pesticide and herbicide. There is also no data on the long-term use of GMOs and the health risks associated. But many concerns have been raised with the prevalent use of them in the United States. To get a non-GMO shopping guide, click here.
TIP: If you have to buy processed food, choose the one that has the shortest ingredient list.
“And just because something is organic or local or homemade or “natural” doesn’t mean its good for you. But I can’t help but notice that a Starbucks muffin has 500 calories and that the one I make at home has 140. Ragu, the No. 1 pasta sauce in America, has almost nine teaspoons of sugar, more than a day’s recommended amount of salt and as much fat as a milkshake in each jar.” –Michael Hobbes
Reduce meat intake, the higher the intake of meats, even with high levels of plant foods, the higher the incidence of disease. Meat lacks antioxidants and good for you photo-chemicals while also being high in saturated fat and pesticide residue. Meat also leaves an acidic ash in the body once metabolized which has also been linked to an increased risk of disease.
According to Meatless Monday, there are many environmental benefits to reducing ones meat intake, including:
Minimize Water Usage—The water needs of livestock are much greater than those of vegetables and grains.
– Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef.
– Approximately 39 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables.
Americans consume nearly four times the amount of animal protein than the global average. When compared with current food intake in the US, a vegetarian diet could reduce water consumption by up to 58% per person.
Reduce Greenhouse Gases —Studies show that meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetables, including carbon dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide – the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas. Beef was found to produce a total of 30 kg of greenhouse gas (GHG) per kg of food, while carrots, potatoes and rice produce .42, .45 and 1.3 kg GHG per kg of food, respectively.
Reduce Fuel Dependence—About 25 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy is used to produce 1 kilocalorie of all meat based protein, as compared with 2.2 kilocalories of fossil fuel input per 1 kilocalorie of grain based protein produced.The meat industry uses so much energy to produce grain for livestock that if instead we used the grain to feed people following a vegetarian diet, it would be enough to feed about 840 million people.
Suggestions for meat intake:
- Go Meatless one day per week
- Limit animal protein intake to no more than 3-4 oz. per day (size of a deck of cards)
- Limit red meat intake to 3-4 oz. WEEKLY
- Choose organic and/ or free range meat
- Opt for leaner cuts, like fish and poultry
- DO NOT over cook; very cooked (i.e. charred) meats contain high levels of cancer causing amines and hydrocarbons
- Avoid cured meats (Hot dogs, smoked meats, bacon) which contain sodium nitrate or nitrates that can cause cancer. If you do eat cured meats, eat something high in vitamin C as well to help counteract the nitrates
Eat good fat. Typical Americans eat to many “bad” fats (i.e. trans-fat, saturated fat and omega 6) and not enough “good” fats. Bad fats are found in red meat, shortening, margarine and refined vegetable oil. Eat more organic, cold or expeller pressed oils as well as raw nuts and seeds to get good fats.
Monitor salt intake, eat real whole foods which have lower sodium and higher potassium (i.e. fruits and veggies). Avoid packaged and canned foods which are generally, very high in sodium. Also look at the nutritional labels of any condiments and salad dressings you use which can also have high sodium content. Switch to Himalayan Pink salt at home.
Drink adequate water. Adequate intake depends on body size, activity, & food intake, but aim for 48-64 oz. per day. Water helps flush toxins from our system and is necessary for our basic physiology. Water also helps with temperature and blood pressure regulation and nutrient absorption.
Healthy eating should be exciting, not feel restrictive! If your struggling with making healthy choices, check out my complimentary 10 day Eat Better. Feel Better. renewal Program. Access the program by joining my facebook group or through the website forums.