The concept of eating well can be quite subjective. Do you mean the USDA Food Pyramid or the updated My Plate? Low-fat? Vegan? Atkins, South Beach, Fat Flush, Paleo? There are so many diet plans out there and so many ideas on what it means to eat a healthy diet that the first order of business is to establish what that means. The basic “eating healthy” plan asks the question, “What have healthy cultures across the earth eaten from the beginning of human history?”
The answers give us the following basic principles:
- Real food is good for real people. Fake food (processed, enriched, homogenized, refined, bleached, hydrogenated, genetically modified, etc.) is not great for real people. In fact, one could make the case that fake parts in anything might cause a problem.
- Protein and good fats are a vital source of nutrition. Despite the current public policy that suggests limiting protein in school children is good because it limits calories and the long standing demonization of fats, protein and fats play a critical nutritional role. They are like the “logs” on the metabolic energy fire, providing a satiated feeling that supports balancing blood sugar. They contain amino acids that are the building blocks for renewal and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K that are vital to immune, endocrine and bone building health.
- Vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, legumes, and unprocessed whole grains. Eat a wide variety of the color spectrum with vegetables, some cooked and some raw, but ideally most locally and in season. Throw out packaged carbs and fill your pantry with your favorite nuts and seeds. Learn to prepare dried beans and whole grains and use in your cooking to add nutrients, fiber and an inexpensive protein source that will stretch your budget.
- Preparation methods and the pace and attitude with which you enjoy your meal have a great impact on your health. Slow down. Prepare healthy food with people you love. Eat good food and enjoy it!