Recently I read an article? about a super-fit, world class surfer. The photo of him reveals a man in perfect shape. A lot of people want to know what an elite athlete like that consumes in order to create his level of performance and fitness. I had to laugh when I read what he eats for breakfast. It wasn’t that I had a problem with his breakfast. But it struck me that it contradicted certain dogmas and belief systems by so-called experts who want to tell you what to eat and what is bad? for you. It made me laugh! It appears that there is something wrong with everything that you eat!
The proponents of a gluten-free diet would frown upon his toast. Those who believe that sugar should not pass our lips would judge the honey he puts on his yogurt. The glycemic-index watchers would say hash browns are bad because they spike the blood sugar. And the proponents from Forks Over Knives, and the author of The China Study would suggest that the yogurt and egg contain casein and animal protein respectively, thus putting the man at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Isn’t it ironic that one can make oneself ill trying to figure out what’s good and what’s bad? Going down one path, such as vegetarianism, would get thumbs down from the paleo diet advocates, who believe in the healing power of meat. (In fact, the strict paleo-people say that protein from beans and legumes is inadequate. Vegetarians have been sucking in their protein from these sources since the time of Tarzan and Jane.)
My purpose in this article is to ask everyone to relax. What is a health advocate to do? How can we do it right? without breaking all of the rules stating what’s wrong?
Here are five tips to help you navigate your way to a happy, healthy and sane approach to eating, food choices, and meal planning. I hope and believe that I have eliminated any strict dogmas around food and found some common sense that you can count on. These guidelines work regardless of what you believe, or what your religion is around food.
- Whole food rules. The more fresh fruits and veggies that you eat, the more your body will love you back. This food group contains the most health and healing micronutrients called antioxidants. This is one of the main sources of protection against degenerative disease. When your cells are bathed in these antioxidants, your health improves and you feel better. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, the more your meal contains natures most potent healing food the better.
- To have predictably more energy, avoid loading up on simple carbs. A diet high in sugars and starches (breads, pastas, sweets, cakes, sugar, rice) will give you more of a roller coaster feeling. If you want sustained energy, and if you want to have your body support you in work and in play, balance the carbs with proteins from a variety of sources, like fish, beans, tofu, and nuts. (Protein and fiber actually slow down the absorption of sugar into your blood vessels, thus reducing the heavy demand of all that insulin trying to move all that glucose out of your blood vessels.)
- Move, breathe, strengthen your body. The benefits are practically endless. How about reducing all forms of degenerative disease? How about fortifying your muscles so that your body gives you more energy back? How about the natural high that comes from your brain releasing feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters? Find out what gives you the most enjoyment and make it a habit.
- Don’t pig out. Period. Don’t stuff yourself. Portion control means that you eat for one meal and you stop before your tank is overflowing. Feeling good after a nutritious meal is the sign of a well-nourished body. The goal is “comfortable and satisfied.”
- Get into a routine. Find a simple breakfast that works for you. Use shakes for lunch that are delicious, economical, nutritious and easy. Keep your dinner focused around food that does not cause you stress to prepare it. Know when during the week you will do some strengthening, get your heart rate up, and warm your body with perspiration. Just do it.
You can create a story about taking care of yourself that is way more interesting than feeling lousy because you haven?t gotten up from your desk all week. By making your health a priority, you become a more interesting person, and you have more energy to share your life, do your work and nurture your relationships. Do things so that your body loves you back. Now that’s a story worth sharing and living!
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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