What does real food include?
As mentioned previously, real food includes meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, water/tea. If it used to have eyes, you picked it from a tree or pulled it from the ground (mostly), you can eat it. It is that simple. Any meat is ok, although leaner meats tend to be slightly better. Chicken, fish, shellfish, beef, pork, elk, moose, rabbit, squirrel, etc. You want your meat to be as un-messed-around-with as possible. No hormones, antibiotics, vegetarian fed or anything else that marketing directors are saying to try to sell more food to you. The best way to eat your food is from an organic or free range type of farm/provider.
Vegetables should include as wide of a variety as possible and palatable. You should try to eat as many local veggies as possible and again, as natural a form as possible. Many of us don’t like to eat veggies unless they are drenched in some sort of medium (ranch, butter, gravy).
We should try to limit this as much as possible, but it is ok in the beginning to help you build new habits. You can work to decrease the use gradually over time so you can consume veggies close to their natural form. There is no limit to the amount of vegetables you can have. They make great snacks and their fiber content allows you to stay full for a long time.
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and fats. Fats do not make you fat! Again, this is clever marketing and word association that has scared a society sick. You must have fats to survive! Eating fat does not make you fat, rather, they allow your body to run more efficiently as a fuel source. Nuts and seeds are a good supplement and snack within your diet. However, you should not consume massive amounts of nuts and seeds and you should stay away from peanuts as they are a legume, not a nut (despite “nut” in their name). They increase inflammation within the body.
Fruit is so good! I love fruit and if I had it my way, I would eat nothing but fruit for every meal. Fruit has great fiber and is a great source for energy, especially in the short term. However, fruit has a higher sugar content and will affect some of those hormones that we talked about earlier that will start to store fat and make you feel a little worse. So, eat fruit, just not as much as you want, like vegetables. In fact, some say that you should eat about half as much fruit as you do vegetables. Again, fruit is hard to cut out because it tastes so good. So, I would suggest that you start with 4-5 servings a day and gradually decrease that number to 3-4 per day. A typically serving size is about a cup or one piece.
What should I avoid?
Grains are a huge problem that creates inflammation within your body. They use the anti-nutrients lectin, phytate and gluten to alter the hormones in your body to store fat and have an inflammatory response. Grains are found in breads, pasta, chips and other starchy foods that we consume in our diet. Grains should be avoided at all costs to reduce the amount of inflammatory effects within the body.
Legumes (what?) include items like beans, lentils and peanuts (they are not nuts!). These foods contain anti-nutrients called phytic acid and lectins. These chemicals cause inflammation in the body, but a lot of them can be neutralized somewhat by soaking them in water for a period (24 hours or so) before you cook and consume them.
Dairy is commonly consumed in our society today. However, the amount of antibiotics, hormones, other substances present increases the inflammatory and insulin response in our body. There are a few options that are more tolerable by our body and include raw goat’s milk and yogurt as well as hard, full-fat cheeses.
Alcohol is a big sticking point for a lot of people regarding their diet. Most of us know that it is not going to do much to assist in our goals, but there are occasions which call for enjoying a beverage with friends.
Keep in mind that alcohol lowers our inhibitions and judgement, so even drinking diet friendly drinks may end up ruining you at the end of the night when you stop in for Whataburger because you are starving and think you may never eat again! If you must drink, a few suggestions would help; avoid beer and white wine, avoid colored spirits, avoid mixers and high sugar drinks and juices. If you must, drink red wine without added sugars, ciders without extra sugar, and hard spirits like tequila (100% agave), vodka and gin. If you must mix different flavors in your spirits, think about using actual fruit juices like lemon, lime and oranges rather than high sugar juices and soft drinks.
The last food group to consume with caution is sugar. Sugar is so prominent in our current culture that it is impossible to eliminate in our diet completely (nor should we). Sugar is a great fuel for our body to help us with exercise and energy expenditure. However, sugar, and especially certain types of sugar, increase inflammation in your body and contribute to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, other systemic diseases like Crohn’s disease, fat storage, appetite awareness suppression and cancer. Sugar has been called our generation’s cigarettes and it is easy to see why. It is incredibly addictive and causes a multitude of problems within the body. If you are going to have sugar, it is best to have it in as natural a form as possible. Some good options for natural sweeteners include raw honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar and palm/coconut sugar. These options have chemical makeups that decrease the spike in our blood sugar levels and keep our hormone levels more normal.
Wow! That’s it! So simple, right? There is so much information here, I am sure that you have some questions. That is ok and totally normal. We are here to help you and answer your questions. We want you to be successful, so come ask your questions. Let us set up a consultation to assist you more. We want to help you to achieve your goals, and nutrition will play a huge part in your success. Remember the bottom line: eat real food! Your success is counting on it!