10 Simple Pillars for Eating Right

~Eat mindfully. Choose foods with high water content that still look like they did on the farm. Consume small and frequent meals. Pre-plan your snacks.

In the USA confusion about what’s good to eat abounds; there’s no better testament to that fact then the inverse relationship between girth and diet books.

The Zone Diet, Dr. Atkins, The South Beach Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, etc., etc. have been mega best sellers, but don’t appear to have had a lasting, material, positive impact on the health of those who buy the books. (Of course, there is that small part about actually reading and following the program.) There’s got to be a simpler and more effective way. And there is.

1. Organic is best

Almost daily there’s another news story about food contamination, whether it be by bacteria, virus or pesticide. There’s debate among the scientific community about the value of organic food relative to that conventionally grown. Is it really better? For our money and health, we defer to organic food when we can. It’s safer, taste better, and buying organic supports a sane, chemical-free, usually local, family-based farming community. And that’s good for everybody, including the planet.

2. Choose carbohydrates with a low Glycemic Load and Index

Suffice to say: The more processed the food (ie: comes in a box or can), the more likely it has a high Glycemic Index which affects your blood sugar negatively and, if consumed excessively, causes girth-expanding propensities.

3. Eat foods with the highest water content

If you cut or squeeze it and it wants to leak or burst, it’s a whole lot better than the food that resembles glue when dunked in water. In other words, choose foods with water inside as opposed to foods that when introduced to water, become gunk. Think veggies/fruits vs bread/crackers/chips et al. The former is clean and makes for a happy body and digestive systems; the latter soon becomes sludge when eaten, clogs the digestive system and offers little nutrition.

4. Favor non-animal protein over animal protein

Back to those daily news stories… yes, add to the high incidence of food contamination the recent plethora of studies demonstrating a causal link between cancer and meat consumption, particularly red meat. A red meat diet is disastrous to more then your body – it’s also the cause of some environmental disasters, from the cutting of rain forests in order to provide ever-increasing demands for foraging areas for the animals we eat to waste run-off – poop and fertilizer – from the industrial meat-producing farms that pollute waterways… not to mention that the millions of grazing animals raised for food are a known cause of carbon dioxide pollution due to the methane gas produced by their flatulence!

Instead of red meat, consider chicken. Instead of chicken, consider low mercury containing fish. Instead of fish, consider high protein rice/bean combinations, along with seeds and nuts and tofu (organic only). And if the bean is not your thing, add protein supplements to your diet.

5. Three medium + two small meals are better than two or three big ones

Think about it. You chow down a big, heavy meal and then what happens? All your energy gets usurped by the digestion process and you become a sleepy and lethargic zombie. Instead of this scenario, why not eat smaller meals of a size sufficient to make you satisfied, but not full. This is a better way to fuel your body. Try making your breakfast, lunch and dinner smaller than usual – high quality, balanced, but smaller – and then should hunger be so rude as to intrude between these three regular meals, indulge in high quality snacks, such as a protein drink, a hand full of nuts, half an avocado, or carrots.

6. Eat breakfast

Yes, eat breakfast, but one that sets you up for a healthy, productive day. No frosted flake cereal. No super sized bagel lathered in something. No Coke. (Yes, I know people who drink soda for breakfast.) Instead, like for every major meal, consume a balance of quality micronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats – such as eggs/salsa/spinach, or slow-cooked oatmeal mixed with fruit and almond milk, or bran cereal and milk mixed with whey protein powder. A good breakfast replenishes your spent reserves and gives your body the energy it needs to begin the day with zest. Get the picture?

7. Satisfy crunch cravings with food bars and sweet cravings with bittersweet chocolate

Even those with Herculean will power succumb at times to their cravings. Knowing this, plan for these humbling moments by stocking up on the right snacks. For things that go “crunch”, try the best quality “food bar” you can find. This isn’t easy, for most of them are filled with high fructose corn syrup and various artificial sweeteners, but if you’re vigilant you should be able to make a decent selection. And for you with that sweet tooth, there’s, alas, bittersweet chocolate. Why “bittersweet”? Well there’s a whole science to it, but suffice to say that there’s less sugar, higher quality coca and the taste is strong enough to encourage moderation.

8. Make veggies the dominant portion, followed by protein, and carbohydrates

Despite what your eyes tell you when scanning a restaurant, or perhaps your kitchen table, pasta should not be the dominant food in your plate. Rice neither. Or any other starch or simple carbohydrate. These foods are fine in small doses, so give them supporting roles in your meal, by eating less of them than the vegetables and proteins in each meal.

9. Choose high quality fats

Contrary to popular belief, fat is good. Well, not when rolling around your midsection, but if it’s the right fat – a high quality fat – consuming it in measured amounts is a healthy thing. Our bodies need various omega-acids (particularly numbers 3 and 6). Good sources are cod liver oil (in capsules or gulp it from the bottle), krill oil, flax seed oil, etc.

10. Eat Slowly

This is worth doing because it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal the hypothalamus in your brain that its full: “OK control central, you can stop loading me up now”. If you don’t eat slowly enough, you’ll eat more than is necessary. One other advantage to eating slower – it makes you more mindful of what you’re doing. If you aren’t paying attention, there’s no presence of Self to change anything for the better.