In our modern society, we have access to a plethora of internet advice regarding the “best” diet to follow for optimal health. But with so many opposing arguments, it’s no wonder our understanding of what constitutes healthy eating has become overly complicated. Like many things in life, it’s sometimes best to avoid getting bogged down in the details and focus on the big picture. If you’re finding yourself falling victim to paralysis by over-analysis, here are 4 simple food rules on which everyone can agree, no matter what camp you’re in.
Drink Plenty of Water
Our bodies are made up of 55-65% water so it is imperative to stay hydrated, allowing for natural bodily function. Aim to get at least half of your body weight in ounces every day. So if you’re a 120 pound female, 60 ounces should be your daily minimum.
Don’t Avoid Major Food Groups
Gone are the days of low-fat and extreme no carb diets–and for good reason! Our bodies need all macro nutrients–proteins, carbohydrates and fats–to perform at their peak. Aim to get a protein such as chicken, eggs, or tofu; a carbohydrate like brown rice or sweet potato, and a healthy fat - avocado and olive oil to name a few–at each meal or snack. If you’re looking to lose weight, a lower carbohydrate diet can be beneficial. However, rather than eliminating them entirely, aim for less starchy carbohydrates such as vegetables & low sugar fruits like berries during the day, saving your starchier options like grains and potatoes for post-workout fuel.
Choose Foods Close to their Source
Our bodies do best with foods that they recognize and know exactly how to digest and utilize. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and avoid highly processed meats and dairy whenever possible. Buy these items local whenever possible. If you purchase packaged foods, opt for a clean and minimal ingredient list. In other words, if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.
Select the Highest Quality that you Can Afford
The quality of our food has lost the battle against quantity over the years, but recent food movements have thankfully caused a shift in this mindset. Pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics have found their way into our meat, dairy, and produce, and we’re now starting to see the ill-effects these additives can have on our health. When purchasing meat, eggs, and dairy, look for words like grass-fed, pasture raised or free range. These labels mean that the animal was eating the diet that it was intended to eat and not administered any hormones or antibiotics. When purchasing produce, opt for organic to avoid pesticides and GMO crops. If you can’t purchase all grass fed and organic, that’s OK. Look for thick skinned conventional fruits and vegetables like bananas and avocados that don’t require as many pesticides for crop growth and opt for leaner cuts of meat, as hormones are stored in animal fat. Achieving a more healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean making dramatic life changes. A few simple steps can improve your overall health and lead you to feeling like a better, healthier you!
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