You may think that what you eat does not matter; however, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study, they found that the #1 cause of death and disability in America was our diet.
If you asked the average American “Do you eat well?” A common response is “I eat pretty good…” or people may say “I eat horrible…” We have to understand what ‘eating well’ means. Eating well means eating foods that add value to your health and don’t harm your health.
Most Americans consume what we call the Standard American Diet (SAD); that acronym is true because the SAD diet consists of primarily animal-based foods (meat, dairy, eggs), processed-foods (refined foods, manufactured food), ample quantities of oil, and low in the consumption of unprocessed whole-plant based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes).
Eating well consists of eating a predominantly low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet consisting primarily of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, and seeds. We recommend people strive to eat from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Power Plate.
Take the word power and apply it to your food – your food has power… if food is healthy it will add value to your health and if food is unhealthy it will detract from your health. Consider video games, where a person has a power level: when you eat healthy foods your power would go up (“doot do to do do!”) and when you eat unhealthy foods your power would go down (“drrrrrrrrrr.”)
What foods should we consume to eat well and to add value to our health?
Fruits: Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, melons, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, bananas, and many others. Fruits contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber and many other nutrients. Choose whole fruits over juice to consume plenty of fiber. *Eat as much whole fruit as you would like.
Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, collards, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and many others. Vegetables provide vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, calcium, iron, fiber and many other healthy nutrients. You want to start your grocery trip off with purchasing a good amount of colorful nutrient dense vegetables. *Build your plate around a variety of colorful vegetables.
Whole Grains: Bread, rice, pasta, oats, corn, barley, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, tortillas, and many others. Whole grains contain high amounts of complex (unrefined) carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins, zinc and are packed with fiber. *Consume mostly 100% whole-grains.
Legumes: Beans (wide variety), peas, lentils and soy products (soy milk, tempeh, tofu). Legumes provide protein, iron, calcium, zinc, B vitamins, and are packed with fiber. *Eat legumes (beans, peas, lentils) daily.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, and hazelnuts and seeds including flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. All of these nutrient-packed foods contain traces of natural oils and healthy fats that contribute to healthy living. *Limit nuts to no more than 1 ounce per day and seeds to no more than a few Tbsps. per day).
Vitamin B12: A daily supplement of 100 micrograms or a 500-1000 microgram dose 2-3 times per week should be adequate for most people. If unsure, please consult with your medical provider.
Vitamin D: Sunlight provides vitamin D; however, if you do not get enough sun exposure due to where you live or due to the time of year you can obtain vitamin D through fortified cereals, grains, bread, orange juice, and plant milks. Additionally, most multivitamins contain vitamin D. If unsure, please consult with your medical provider.
Calcium: When you think of the healthiest sources of calcium consider green vegetables and beans.
You may be asking, what about other commonly consumed foods like meat (chicken, turkey, fish, beef, pork), dairy (butter, yogurt, cheese, milk) and eggs? Unfortunately, more research on these foods is demonstrating that they do not provide much value and in fact they may overload your body with unhealthy fats (saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol) and provide little-to-no micronutrients. By centering your diet around these foods, you displace the more healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes. For example, by eat a large piece of meat, you often eat less vegetables and by eating eggs you often eat less whole grains.
It is important to know that the choice is yours… Do you want to eat well and thrive?
As you prepare for and work towards your goal of eating well; focus on progress, not perfection. Please remember that you can improve your daily lifestyle and your health.
"Know your priority, get the right tools, take action, focus your actions, practice consistency and stay with it until you accomplish your goal. "