All diets are a combination of fats, proteins, and carbs – all fall in the macro-nutrient segment of our food intake. Overall, most people have too many carbs, sugar, and processed foods to blame for their weight gain, and for the large majority of diet issues.
Once you address your diet and health goals, you will better understand the mix or ratio that is right for your body, and instead of ‘dieting’ you can move to a sustainable lifestyle based around these 7 steps:
- Limit Added Sugar – This is by far the ‘devil’ in our diet. Notice I don’t say eliminate sugar, because that only tends to make that devil even more powerful. Instead, you can flirt with him every now and then just enough to keep you in control (remember 80/20). Also, we are talking about ‘Added Sugar’ which is on every food label, which is very different than overall ‘sugar’. All fruits have sugar but make sure there isn’t any added sugar, that can easily take a cup of juice from 10-11 grams to well over 40 grams, and that’s no good!
- Avoid Processed Foods – Basically, if you can limit the time you spend in the middle isles of a grocery store, you’ll be able to avoid most processed foods. Things that come in boxes and jars and bags are often highly processed, including rice, bread, and pasta. Keep to the outside isles of the grocery store, keep to whole foods, and your diet will instantly improve.
- Bulk up on Fruits & Veggies – So, as we were saying stick to whole foods, and none better than fruits and veggies. While some fruits are high in glucose which is sugar, you can keep to berries which are high in antioxidants, and fiber and low in sugar. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are the elixir of life. Put them in a smoothie with some spinach, Coconut Almond milk, and some Kefir yogurt and you’re off to an excellent day!
- Switch to Whole Grains – overall bread is not the friendliest of foods, but they are not the devil either. If you can switch from white bread and buns to whole grains, you’ll be much better off and you’ll be able to enjoy bread that keeps you fuller longer, which can actually lead to you eating less throughout the day. Keep this in mind as well – Whole grains should always be the first ingredient, the ingredient list should be short and recognizable, and it should have minimal (if any) added sugar. When you swap out refined carbs (like white pasta, sugar, and white bread) for whole grains you’ll get more fiber, antioxidants, and inflammation-fighting phytonutrients.
- Watch Your Salt Intake – if you have high blood pressure or not, keep an eye on your salt intake. You should be at about 2,300mg (the average American takes in 3,400mg per day!), but if you are diabetic or have high blood pressure you may want to shoot for 1,500 per day. Salt is a great way to bring out the flavor in food when added before its cooked. I like to use Pink Himalayan salt which his lower in sodium and still does the job. Overall, I just barely use the salt shaker after the food is cooked, so no added salt (except for the occasional french fries – remember 80/20!)
- Eat Less Red Meat – this one has been my biggest challenge, but I have slowly reduced my consumption of red meat throughout the week. I have also substituted ground beef with ground turkey and still have delicious burgers and meatballs. The occasional Rib-Eye steak is still on my menu, but keep away from the pieces of fat, and stick to the leaner cuts. Meat is still good for you, and I suggest it part of your diet if you enjoy it, just keep it 80/20!!! (see the trend here ;).
- Organic Whenever Possible – I know it costs a little more, but when you can get organic foods, like chicken, free-range eggs, milk, fruits, and veggies, not only are you getting foods with more nutrients, you are also getting foods with little to no pesticides. Of course, no matter what you purchase, make sure to clean the food before you eat it, and then give thanks to the big G.O.D. for another nourishing meal!