3 Simple Rules to Eating Healthy
Alexandria Natural Health Center specializes in chiropractic care and acupuncture, but we also focus on nutritional and dietary aspects of our patient’s lifestyle in order to achieve the best possible results with treatment. Here are three easy dietary rules to follow, compliments of Michael Pollan, an American author who has delved deeply into the problems related to the typical American diet.
1) Eat Food
More precisely, eat REAL food. Our digestive system is developed with an array of enzymes, proteins, and acids to digest certain materials. Not everything we eat can be digested and some things that can be, shouldn’t be. It's important to know what you’re taking into your body. Whole foods are the best way to ensure that what you are eating is what you think it is. Whole foods are foods that have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free from additives or other artificial substances.
If you are not buying whole foods, then please pay attention to food labels. Food labels may, at first, seem intimidating. Many processed foods contain multiple chemicals and additives to make what they're selling palatable. Rule of thumb: If you can't pronounce the ingredient then it's probably not a good idea to eat or drink it.
These added chemicals can be hazardous to your health (looking at you, aspartame) or produce unhealthy conditions in the body (high fructose corn syrup - a whole other topic itself). If you are eating whole foods, this isn't going to be an issue; you eat a strawberry, then you ate a strawberry. Pretty simple.
2) Don’t Eat Too Much
Portion control ends up being the primary crux for people trying to lose weight. And for many it's been conditioned into us.
"You're not leaving the table till you finish everything on your plate."
"There are starving people who would appreciate what you have."
"Get the most for your money."
This kind of thinking can cause you to over-eat. When you are hungry, your brain will overreact, and you will take more food than you need. For an average meal, it takes roughly five to seven minutes to fill up your stomach, BUT it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize the stomach is full. With extra food in front of you, what to do you suppose happens during that gap in time? You keep eating.
Here are some tips to help prevent over-eating and promote good portion control:
· Use smaller plates/bowls - a full small plate will look more appealing to your brain than a larger plate with space on it.
· Eat slower - give your body time for the stomach to relay the message to your brain that you are full.
· Prepare less food for meals or order the small size versus the medium size.
3) Eat Mostly Plants
The food pyramid was a mistake and is still in the process of being phased out across the country. We now have the food plate, which is only slightly better, but still misses the mark.
The majority of your food intake should be whole fruits and vegetables, followed by healthy fats (non-trans-fat), then protein, and finally carbohydrates (Bread and potatoes fall under carbohydrates despite both being plant based).
When it comes to whole fruits and vegetables, eat as much as you like because they quickly fill you up and they contain a lot of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Get to know the produce aisle at your local grocery store. The underappreciated aspect of plant-based food is the high fiber content which is vital for digestive health. Fiber contributes a lot of mass/bulk to fruits and vegetables, and it is the fiber that fills you up. It makes you feel full, but doesn't stay with you. Fiber goes in one end and out the other because your body can not absorb it.
Healthy fats can be found in high concentrations in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Trans-fats should be avoided at all costs, and any oil that has been hydrogenated (partially or fully) will contain trans-fat despite what the label may tell you. 0 trans-fat on a label may only mean the product has less than 0.5 grams trans-fat per serving, so keep that in mind.
Protein sources from nuts, legumes/beans, and meat come in third. Where you get your meat is important, because just like us, an animal is what it eats.
As for carbohydrates in the form of added sugar, potatoes/starch, flour, and rice; you don't need much. Sugar is found in fruits and vegetables, and your body is able to produce sugar from fat (this is how you lose fat-based weight). There is no need to add in additional carbohydrates to the diet.
If you would like help improving your current diet, or need advice on how to lose weight, call Alexandria Natural Health Center to schedule a nutritional consultation with Dr. Larson today. Let’s get you on the right path to a healthier life.