What The Heck Do I Eat?
I hear this question a lot from my patients and I suspect that this has something to do with the mass of conflicting information being shared in the media…but that’s just a hunch.
The recent realization and campaign for people to ‘eat more fat’ for example refutes everything that we have been taught over the past twenty years of cholesterol shaming and fat fears. The beliefs that “fat is bad” and that “fat will make you fat” have been so ingrained in us that it is any wonder that we are now skeptical of any new way of eating.
Even some of my most well-versed and educated clients are overwhelmed by the amount of studies, research and “health professionals” that all tell them different ways they should eat; and so they come to me looking for answers:
“DK, what the heck should I eat?”
Now this is a tricky one because I am always an advocate for listening to your body and eating according to whatever specific goals you want to achieve.
Having said that however I suggest a Whole-foods Plant-Based Diet as the best place to start.
What is a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet?
A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet is a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats in the form of nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and high-quality protein.
The Mediterranean Diet
Personally I see the closest example of this being the Mediterranean diet and when I say that people tend to know what I’m taking about; the Mediterranean diet being naturally high in unsaturated fat from seafood, olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds and abundant in freshly harvested vine and garden vegetables is a great place for people to start.
I especially like to use the Mediterranean diet as a reference point for people because we are not outwardly excluding or limiting any foods – instead we are embracing great quality produce and an abundance of fresh, healthy foods.
“What Should My Plate Look Like?”
After years of hearing this question I developed The Palm Method as a way of measuring portion sizes relative to your unique body. By using no more than the size of the palm of your hand, your fist, and thumb you can moderate your consumption of carbohydrate, protein and fat at each meal and maintain optimal weight.
If you are looking to lose weight or gain size this will of course need to change however it is always important that the proportional values remain the same. For example if you increase protein consumption to gain muscle, your intake of fat and carbohydrate should increase the same amount. This ensures that the body stays in balance, without needing to sacrifice one store center to compensate for another.
“So What Do I Eat? Exactly.”
What do you want to eat?
I personally love to eat and I love cooking so the process of deciding what to eat comes with the complication of making it delicious; so I experiment with different vegetables, cuisines, sauces and proteins. But keeping it simple I would recommend the following as great sources of macronutrients:
- Low-Starch Vegetables: Dark leafy greens and other fibrous vegetables
- Starchy Carbohydrates such as Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, White Potatoes and Gluten-Free Ancient Grains such as Quinoa and Brown Rice
- High-quality protein in the form of organic, grass-fed meat, chicken and fish as well as high-quality dairy products, and plant-based sources such as beans and legumes
- Healthy fat sources such as avocados, nuts and seeds, using Olive Oil, coconut, macadamia or avocado oil in sauces and dressings
The most important thing when building a plate is to begin with vegetables. When you start with veggies and then begin to add your high-quality sources of starchy carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats there is simply no room for any of the “bad stuff”.
All of these recommendations come with a caveat of course; that they are well tolerated in your body and will not cause or aggravate any health conditions, for this it is best to see a professional such as the naturopathic team at Vida Lifestyles for a tailored program.
If you’re still stuck for ideas stay tuned for the follow up ‘My Day On A Plate’ and you might just be inspired.