What the heck do I eat??
Keto, Blood Type, Low-Carb, Carnivore, Paleo, Vegan, Mediterranean, Plant-based….So many confusing diets and opinions out there! How do you know what to eat?
Do you drink coffee or not? Red wine or not? Eggs or not? Everyone has a different opinion on what we should and should not eat.
Michael Pollan famously stated, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and that summarizes my approach to healthy eating quite beautifully.
So what is food?
These days much of what we eat contains little or no actual food. It’s a collection of “chemical-based food-like products” designed to trick us into thinking we’re eating food. Ever read the label on processed foods like “pasteurized processed cheese food” and “cream of ” soups? Do you find any actual food ingredients in there? Maybe way down at the end of the list there might be a small amount.
I define real food as being essentially unchanged from its natural state.
What do I mean by that?
Well, take coconut for example. Pick a coconut off the tree, break it open and drink the fresh coconut water. Scrape the flesh off the shell and eat it. The food is in its original state.
Grind the coconut meat up and make coconut butter. It’s been modified somewhat, but still remains coconut. The food has just been chopped up, not changed.
But take that ground coconut, subject it to intense heat, pressure, solvents, chemical reactions, steam deodorizers, etc. and it becomes vegetable glycerin which in no way resembles coconut any more. That’s not food.
So just because something started out natural doesn’t mean it ended up that way on your plate.
How much is too much?
We’re all individuals and have different needs. Many people get very hung up on proper food combining, exact portions, macros, ratios, rules, rules, rules…
I keep it simple. Are you clothes too tight? Eat a little less. Are they getting too big? Eat a little more. My main concern it that you’re eating a variety of foods so you get the full spectrum of nutrients. All too often we resort to the same 8-10 foods over and over. This leaves gaps in our nutrient status which can lead to poor health.
But don’t think for a minute that I leave your nutrition totally to chance! No way. I ask clients to keep a food journal so I can see what they enjoy eating, and I also use the Better Nutrition Program’s assessment tools to help identify any potential nutrient gaps. I can also run labs to check for nutrient deficiencies if we feel it’s appropriate but I do prefer to start with food first.
Eat mostly plants
The trouble with most modern diets is that we eat way more meat than we need and the only vegetables we eat are potatoes, tomatoes and maybe the occasional canned green bean. Even many people who say they’re vegetarian are really “bread-atarians.” They eat mostly bread and cheese and very few vegetables.
I firmly believe humans were designed to eat meat, just not 1-2 pounds per day! I like to see your plate be at least half non-starchy vegetables, ¼ starchy vegetable or grain (if tolerated) and ¼ meat. You don’t have to have meat at every meal. In fact “Meatless Mondays” are a great idea assuming you focus on non-starchy veggies, but don’t exclude meat entirely.
Plants to avoid
After taking Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s Certified Gluten Practitioner course I firmly believe we all need to avoid gluten but that is a personal choice. I do encourage all clients to follow the Paleo diet for 3 months to let the body rest from any reaction then try reintroducing gluten and dairy and see how they feel. Its very common for clients to discover that these foods affect their symptoms far more than they realized.
There are many other foods that can contribute to symptoms; lectins, oxalates, night shades, and the list goes on. Yes, we can run a food sensitivity panel but they’re expensive and often have false positives/negatives. The gold standard for food sensitivities remains an elimination diet and for that I use the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet . As an AIP Certified Coach I often recommend this protocol for my autoimmune clients but it can be helpful for anyone who feels they need to identify food sensitivities.
Does this eating philosophy resonate with you? Then I encourage you to schedule a free consult so we can get to know each other better!