The Basics: How to Eat for a Balanced, Healthy Lifestyle
Okay, so I am no nutritionist, no doctor, no health coach. I can't prescribe you the perfect eating plan as I don't know how your body feels & reacts to certain foods. Only you can do that, so ultimately play with my guidelines and listen to your body, finding what works for you.
That being said, the general gist of wellness is eating whole, simple foods that nourish you. So it really is NOT that hard to figure out how to eat a basic, healthy lifestyle. It is all food you could, if you wanted to, find in nature yourself. No machines, no factories, none of that. Just whole, freshly-sourced, nutritious foods.
And the brings us back to the basics. Let me outline what I mean by that, and what you should include in your diet to actually attain balance.
Nutrient-dense vegetables: Your plate really should be chock full of vegetables. They're obviously extremely nutritious and offer so much more to your plate than just taking up space. Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce, beet greens, dandelion greens, swiss chard, collard greens, etc.) are some of the best vegetables because they offer the necessary vitamins & minerals without any added junk or weight. Fill up that plate with as many vegetables as you can!
Clean Sourced Protein: For me, this means animal protein. That's what my body enjoys best, and I think animal protein is actually the cleanest source of protein, if its the right kind. When you buy organic, grass fed beef, pastured eggs & chicken, and wild caught fish, you're really get better-for-you sources of protein than a slab of tofu that was made in a factory. That's just my opinion, but I do encourage you to not fear animal protein as it does provide necessary B vitamins, amongst others, that are not commonly found in plant-based foods and are extremely necessary for all bodily functions.
The Good Fats: By now you have probably heard, fat is back. But is it really... or are people just saying that? YES, it is. Fat, the good kind, is essential for literally every process your body undergoes daily. It provides energy to your brain and lubricates all joints so that means no foggy days or achy joints for you! It also helps your body grow shiny hair and glowing skin and gives you ENERGY! Trust me, I need my ghee in my coffee to make it through the day for sure. So def add a good serving of avocado, nuts & seeds, olive/avocado oil to your meals or cook your veg in ghee/olive/coconut oil for all the benefits!
So at the end of the day, getting back to the basics means eating just well sourced vegetables, good quality, well raised meats and fish, cage-free eggs, nuts and seeds, some fruits for natural sugars. But, that doesn't mean there aren't some general foods that almost everyone should avoid.
Dairy: Humans are the only species that drink another animal's milk, or any milk past birth. Weird. And we didn't originally until modern times, meaning humans aren't equipped with the genes to digest dairy. That's why so many people (whether diagnosed or not) are lactose intolerant! So do your body, skin, and mind a favor and ditch all that processed, commercialized dairy, at least for the most part. IF you can tolerate some amount of dairy, include full fat probiotic rich yogurt (goat's milk, sheep's milk are usually better to digest!). Otherwise, you can find those probiotics elsewhere and your body will thank you!
Gluten/Grains: This should be a no brainer (ha!), but most people honestly don't do it right. They'll replace simple bread with few ingredients with gluten-free products loaded with weird ingredients and sugar. That's not doing your body any better than the gluten! I generally stay away from grains for digestive purposes, but if your body digs it, enjoy it in moderation. Once you fill your plate with greens, starchy veg and clean proteins and fat, and tons of spices & herbs, you won't miss that bland brown rice.
Sugar: DUH! I mean we know by now sugar is the worst. There's no grey area like grains and dairy -- sugar is just bad. It's like a drug. Addictive & terrible for your body and brain. BUT, where is the line between artificial sugar and natural sugar? You may think that just because things like honey, maple syrup, stevia, coconut sugar, dates AND fruit, etc are better for you than white sugar because they're labeled as 'natural'. However, its still sugar and your body doesn't know the difference when it processes it all. That being said, if you have a sweet tooth and are just focusing on living a more balanced life, don't think you have to cut it all out 100%. Just enjoy it in moderation and you'll find you won't need it as much when you completely change your diet around.
To eat a balanced, healthy lifestyle without the frills and expenses, focus on bringing as much fresh produce, well sourced protein, and balanced omega3/6 ratio fats into your diet. Focus LESS on what you have to take out, that will come along with it. I find when people say "I can't eat this, this & this" they immediately adopt a restrictive mentality. Let me tell you, this makes your life a whole lot more messy and stressful. So, instead, focus on what you should BRING into your diet. The moment you realize all the healthy, tasty, and good-for-you foods you can introduce into your daily routine, and the moment you realize how GOOD they make you feel, the less you'll want the foods you "can't" have, without the restriction.
While I totally advocate including and removing all of the foods mentioned above never restrict yourself from something your body craves. If you dig grains, I'm not the person to tell you you shouldn't have them. If you sort of think you can tolerate dairy, but not sure, take the guess work out of it and take a food sensitivity test! Sometimes the results will surprise you and maybe its something else bothering you instead.
This is what balanced means -- eating a wide range of healthy veg, fruits, proteins, nuts & seeds to incorporate a myriad of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. But it also means listening to your body intuitively, not being restrictive, and thinking less about all the frills. Just keep it simple and your body will be happy. If you fill you're plate with vegetables, protein, and fats, you're GOOD. Don't stress all the random nutrition facts (or myths) that you hear all around.
So those are some of my necessities for a balanced, healthy diet that you should definitely be adding in to your routine. Eating healthy doesn't have to be hard. If you're a health nut already like me, and want to take your eating to the next level by including even more nutrient rich, by all means do so. But if you're just looking to clean up your diet and get more energy, just follow these basic simple guidelines & eat real, whole food. Easy.
P.S. If you're struggling with something more severe like a food intolerance/autoimmune disorder/elimination diet, know that it is totally okay to experiment with what foods your body likes and dislikes, and sometimes eating simple won't be enough to heal. Food sensitivites play a big role in our health and are sometimes super tricky to figure out, so if you're already eating simple, whole foods and not feeling your best, try to rule out any intolerance, imbalance or disorder that may be causing it instead!