Seven Universal Laws of Healthy Eating
Are you feeling tired? Do you have a hard time losing weight? Just not feeling like the best version of yourself?
A good place to start to feel better is by changing your daily food habits and to move towards what I call the “Seven Universal Laws of Healthy Eating.”
There is a lot of confusion regarding health and nutrition. Low carb, Paleo, vegan, raw food, macrobiotic, gluten free, hypoallergenic…the list goes on! However, despite the obvious contradictions between these divergent food plans, there are a lot of similarities. These are what I refer to as the Universal Laws.
The Universal Laws are those elements that benefit all of us. If you are looking to get started on optimizing your health – start here. See how you feel. You may need to dive a little deeper, or require a more personalized plan. But start with the basics.
1 - Eat Real Food
Real food is the kind of food that has been around since the beginning of time. It is food that you can recognize as coming from the garden, tree, forest, etc.
Before you eat, stop and ask yourself if this was the kind of food that your great-great-great grandparents would have eaten? If not, then it’s probably not something you should eat on a very regular basis.
Real food generally isn’t packaged and doesn’t have a label. But in general, read your labels and if there is something on that label that is difficult to pronounce, you’re not sure what it means, or has more than three syllables – DON’T EAT IT!
2 – Eat Vegetables and Fruit Daily
Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as antioxidants – they are nature’s health food. Aim for variety, and for a half plate at each meal. They are also an integral part of maintaining a healthy weight and preventing chronic illness.
3 – Minimize Your Intake of Added Sugar
Excess sugar consumption is linked to many disease processes. A sugar laden diet increases your risk of dying prematurely from; heart disease (even if you are not overweight!), diabetes, cancer, and contributes to obesity. It promotes belly fat and can affect the liver like alcohol does. It can also affect our brain health. The World Health Organization recommends less than 10% of our calories should come from sugar. But they say further health benefits are seen if we can limit it to no more than 5%. That is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of added sugar. Sugar added to beverages is particularly detrimental because it is really easy to consume a lot of sugar without even noticing. A single can of soda can contain 40 grams of sugar (10 tsp of sugar). Sugar is also added to things that we don’t even consider sweet – for example – pasta sauce. However, it all adds up. Another reason why it is so important to read your labels.
4 – Reduce Your Consumption of Refined Carbohydrates
A refined carbohydrate is one that has been highly processed and has had most of the fiber removed. It included most things made with added sugar and flour. A refined carbohydrate has a higher glycemic index than whole food carbohydrates. That means it converts into sugar more quickly and can cause too much insulin to be released. This in turn promotes inflammation, diabetes and obesity.
5 – Choose Healthy Fats
Fats help us feel satisfied and play an important role in maintaining our blood sugar. The fats found in nuts, seeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, fish and flax are particularly healthy. I also recommend butter (organic is best) in moderation – I feel most comfortable with traditional foods that have been around for a long time! Stay away from hydrogenated foods, fried foods and vegetable oils in general. Oils should be cold and/or expeller pressed.
6 – Get Enough Protein
Protein is essential for maintaining our health. Most of us need a minimum of .8g per kg of body weight daily. Protein is important for a healthy immune system. It helps to lower blood sugar and can help with weight loss. Determining the best type of protein for you (animal or vegetable) is personal. It varies based on genetic makeup, religious and cultural background/beliefs and the type of health condition/s you may have. In general - if you rely on vegetable proteins, focus on a variety of sources. For the meat eaters – grass fed, organic is considered best.
7 – Moderation is Best
Last but not least, we generally eat too much. And yes, you can have too much of a good thing! Watch your portions.
These are the Universal Laws of healthy eating. We can all benefit from adhering to them. They provide the foundations of good health. Whether you need to eliminate gluten or adopt a vegan or Keto diet - well, that is where nutrition needs to get personalized. There is not one plan that fits all. Get started with the basics and then you can try out a particular approach, see how you feel, listen to your body. Just pay attention. Your body’s infinite wisdom will guide you.
This is a great place to start. But if you are overwhelmed or you are doing all that and it is still not working, let’s work together and I can help you on your journey to better health. We can be reached at 970-963-6500.