Welcome to Healthy and Golden! This is the third post in the three part series – Fundamentals to Eating Healthy. If you have not yet read the first fundamental on Eating with a Healthy Mindset, you can find it here!
Hello! I hope you enjoyed last week’s two posts on mindset – one of the most important things to focus on in regards to weight management. Don’t forget to use the free printable daily health tracker I provided so you can keep track and make changes to your healthy eating practices! And today, we are getting into the nitty gritty fun stuff – I will be talking about the right foods to eat, and following up next week with portion sizes – these definitely go hand in hand, but it’s always best to lay down the basics of healthy foods first.
Be aware this is a long post, but this is about healthy eating. There is no short addition way to let you know what to eat, without telling you what other foods aren’t the best to eat! I’ve made you a quick healthy foods guide at the end which will benefit your weight management journey, so stick with me and I’ll help you out 😊
Foods that support your health
Whole foods. Unprocessed, GMO-free, no additives, no bullcrap. Just 100% whole, good-for-you foods. Don’t lose me here – I know it’s hard to find whole foods in a store of so many possibilities and good marketing, but I’m not exactly talking about packaged food at all. I’m going back to basics remember!
What are whole foods? A food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.
Thanks google 😊
Think back to our ancestors – out in the field foraging and planting. What would have been the basics that they would have found and created meals from, or ate alone?
Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts and Seeds, and of course meat.
If there is only one tip I can give you, remember your ancestors and eat those 4 key categories of foods. Don’t stray too far from there and you will do great.
Organic vs GMO
The point of the matter is now though that most of these basic foods have been GMO (genetically modified organism) tailored so they can be planted and eaten all year around in any climate required, while some have also been modified to no longer be attractive to the bugs that eat them, some are not even original plants, they have been created through mixing plants – we are toying with mother nature here! (Ref)
Now you might think that this is somewhat ok – as the population grows around the world, we need to create strategies to thrive – but the genetic makeup is modified and by doing so, (and we are getting into chemistry here) it’s not so easily recognisable by our bodies and takes a lot longer to digest. This in turn creates a load of issues on the inside.
Let me rattle some of for you, but I don’t want to fill up the whole blog post – infertility, food allergies = autoimmune problems, accelerated aging, changes in insulin, changes in protein formation, changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and intestines (Ref), antibiotic resistance, endocrine system problems, cancerous tumour growth (Ref).
Ok, in normal human terms, my bad – obesity, infertility, autoimmune diseases, cancers and tumours, quicker aging of the body, increase risk of leukaemia, liver toxicity, kidney failure, gut inflammation, early death.
Shocking when 65% of processed foods in Australia have one or more forms of GMOs in them (Ref), with the rate in America being 85% (Ref). If you’d like to know more, I suggest you watch ‘GMO OMG’, the film – you can find their website here. It’s eye opening and worth the watch!
Now when it comes to organic foods, this is a tricky one as there are a lot of loop holes around organic certification, and it is quite expensive, so unless companies that supply organic foods are large companies (and a lot of the time bought out by the bigger GMO brands), it’s hard to say what is and isn’t 100% organic.
One of the easiest ways to know what is in your foods is to grow them yourself, and cook them yourself!
The best way to shop organic is to go to farmers markets and talk to the suppliers themselves (Ref) Ask questions such as (and who cares if it annoys them, this is your health!) —-
– Who grew this food? – If it wasn’t their own business, be cautious. You aren’t buying wholesale.
– Is your produce chemical-free? You want words such as ‘no pesticides’, ‘natural’, or of course ‘chemical-free’. If they say ‘no spray’, you want to ask the following question.
– If you don’t spray, what do you use to keep pests away? If this is anything else but seaweed, plant-based materials or organic pesticides, steer right away.
Eat Your Macros
Now that I’ve got the nitty gritty out of the way, there are three basic types of foods that are paramount to good health.
Macronutrients – that is, Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates.
Best served from unprocessed, whole foods. These three components provide your body with all the necessities it needs to run efficiently, with good energy levels and balanced hormones. Now in retrospect, all whole foods will have a balance of at least two of the three. Yes, you can find protein in fruits and vegetables!!
The best way to ensure that you are receiving enough of these nutrients is to eat as healthily as possibly, with rich whole foods in each meal, and aiming for the 5 serves of veggies, 2 serves of fruit each day.
I will be looking more into requirements and portion sizes in the next Fundamental post, next week, so stay tuned.
Meat Eaters VS Vegans
I wanted to put this in there because I know that it will come up. There is huge arguments between meat eaters and vegans, and for due reason, but I myself am a clean eater, and I eat meat. I don’t disregard the vegans, as the way of eating I hope to accomplish is a 75% raw vegan, but for my own health issues, I must eat meat at least every second day to fight off anaemia, along with a large supply of iron-rich whole foods. I will not be touching on the processing of meat products in this article.
However you want to eat, that suits your personal lifestyle, is your choice and your choice alone, I am here to just give guidance and offer facts about the truth of foods available to us. If you’d like to know more about my history of healthy and unhealthy eating, you can read about it here.
Now, protein is necessary for our bodies, helping to repair and build muscular tissue, while strengthening our bones, and keeping our skin and blood healthy as well.
Protein from Meat and Dairy
When you are shopping for meat products and eggs, do try your best to get hormone-free, grass-fed, or cage-free products which are more readily available now. This will ensure your health isn’t affected by the extra additives (and hormones!) in the processing of these foods.
As for dairy foods, try your best to stick to unsweetened natural yoghurts, such as greek yoghurt, or coconut yoghurt. Ricotta is also a great source of protein, and Kefir is also another new item, becoming quite popular on the health front.
Proteins from Whole Foods
Meat isn’t the only form you can get protein from. Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds can also contain vital protein amounts for you.
Here are the highest protein rich foods from each category.
Fruits – Guavas, blackberries, apricots, nectarines, grapefruit, rockmelon, peaches, raspberries, passionfruit.
Vegetables – Legumes (such as peas, chickpeas, and lentils), spinach, tempeh (made from soybeans), beans, broccoli.
Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, cashews, pistachios, chia seeds, peanut/almond butters, hemp seeds, sesame/sunflower/poppy seeds, unsweetened cocoa powder (whattt).
Carbohydrates and Fats
Fat has had a bad rep in the past few decades, as has carbohydrates, but now we are beginning to learn that these are a necessity for our bodies.
Carbs are our main source of energy – they keep our metabolism going so that we can get through the day, while also helping cellular function (Ref). Carbohydrates aren’t just in grains – in bread, cakes, biscuits blah blah blah, they are in fruits and vegetables, so don’t think negatively of them – don’t eat a ‘no carb’ diet. As I said, it’s a necessity for our bodies to run effectively.
Fats also provide our bodies with energy, keep us warm, and bind with protein to help it do it’s job in the body too. Fats can also help to lower cholesterol and encourage weight loss – go figure, they aren’t all bad (Ref). The trick is to ensure that we are getting the healthiest versions of fats and carbs.
Choose healthy fats and carbs from whole foods, such as the following –
Fats – avocados, real butter (not margarine, or mimicking types), coconut oil, olive oil, omega 3 rich foods like salmon and sardines.
Carbs – Sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, capsicums, chard, asparagus, kale, spinach, eggs, yoghurt/kefir, cheese, and the list goes on..
As for creating meals from these, sometimes it is necessary to include whole-grains to keep us fuller for longer, and to obviously provide variety. There are only so many ways you can make zucchini and carrot noodles, or eat potatoes (mm, mash).
If this is a necessity for you, there are many options out there to provide a healthier choice, instead of reaching for the refined grains such as white rice which are highly processed and contain next to no nutrients for your body. You can choose healthier versions such as brown rice, or quinoa (high in fibre and protein!) for your main meals, which can help to prevent illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes (Ref). Quinoa has a nuttier flavour, but is wonderful in so many dishes, or as I like to cook it – with some chicken stock and Italian herbs – your own healthy risotto.
Other healthy whole-grain versions include – Millet, Oats, Spelt, Freekeh, Whole Rye, Buckwheat, Whole wheat. Experiment and find what works for you, and doesn’t upset your belly!
The ‘Unhappy’ Bunch
Thinking about healthy foods, we also have to think about the not-so-healthy foods as well. I don’t like to place a stigma on good and bad foods. This goes hand in hand with mindset, and can create guilt and unhappiness around food, when what we are trying to do is create a healthy relationship with food instead.
I believe moderation is key – have a little taste but don’t get crazy with it.
Of course, sugar is not a very healthy choice – it is a form of carbohydrate, and glucose is what fuels our brains, but white sugar is not the right form you should be looking for. It is highly refined, and does a load of different things to our body that don’t allow it to work affectively. With that in mind, sometimes a little sugar is nice, a pleasure if you will, but moderate how much you use of it, and when cooking and baking, use healthy alternatives that still provide the sweetness while not having the negative effects on your health.
Healthy alternatives include – honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia, natvia, xylitol, rice malt syrup.
Additives and Colours
Would you drink a potion that has been linked to damaging of nerves, mutation of chromosomes, and cancer development? (Ref). Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, these are the risks associated with food dye additives in our foods, and that’s only the colours. The long list of additives we find in our foods can do so many more detrimental things to our health, it’s ridiculous.
This is another reason why it is so highly important that the foods you choose are whole foods, and organic or as close to as possible. I also encourage to cook your snack foods from whole ingredients, so you are always aware of the ingredients (and lack of additives) in the foods you are eating.
In the Healthy Foods Guide I have attached just below, I have included guidelines into reading packaging, including a list of the most common additives in foods, which will help you along with your shopping each week.
You made it! I know it was a long post, but I’m sure all that information has enriched you to make healthier foods choices but wait! As promised, I have created a Healthy Foods Guide ebook for your personal use – this includes guidelines into reading packaging to ensure you know what exactly are in the foods you are buying. I encourage you to go through your pantry and have a look at the ingredients on your most eaten foods – especially those your children eat, and popular cereal brands. You can download the Healthy Foods Guide by clicking on the banner below.
Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you have health conditions, you will need to tweak to what suits you, as anyone should do for their own preference and personal lifestyle. Before making any drastic changes to your diet, you should always consult your practitioner as to what is best for you individually.
In the next Fundamentals of Eating Healthy post, we are jumping into Portion Sizes and Nutritional Requirements, the final part of the Fundamentals to Healthy Eating series. You can find it right here!
I hope that you have enjoyed this post, and it has given you some new-found guidance to healthy food choices and shopping guidelines.
As always, please share your thoughts and opinions, and any experiences you have had – I love to hear your ideas and any tips you have – I may just learn a thing or two myself, so please share!