Pretty much, not a week goes by without someone asking me about my opinion on the "What the Health" documentary, or I get asked what I think about adopting a vegan diet in order to deal with various health concerns like high cholesterol, weight gain, and blood pressure issues. While I don't think that there's one type of diet that works for everyone, and I don't necessarily believe that the consumption of animal products is the cause of all of these health concerns, I do think that everybody needs certain nutrients to be at their optimal health. And always always, balance in all things is key.
So here are my tips for ANY diet you choose to adopt, whether you're eating meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, pasta, salads, or all of the above(because you're a foodie like me!):
1. PROTEIN: pretty much everything we eat, contains a little bit of protein, but a lot of us still aren't getting enough for what our body needs. We need protein to maintain muscle function, hormone balance, and even to regulate mood and energy levels throughout the day. If you're finding that you get that "sugar-crashy" kind of feeling every day, or low energy, it might be a sign that you're not getting enough protein. For the average, non-athlete individual, take your body weight in KILOGRAMS and multiply it by 0.8. That value(in grams) is the minimum amount of protein your body needs each day. Depending on your activity level, that can be increased to suit your needs.
2. FATS: a lot of the fats that we consume are not good quality or they're rancid due to the processing of the oils. Instead, consuming HEALTHY FATS from nuts and seeds and avocados, or oils like hemp, flax, or olive oil, the body can better produce the hormones that it needs to regulate cholesterol, weight and blood pressure(the body literally needs fat to produce hormones that help with metabolism and blood sugar management, so don't be afraid to get those fats in!).
3. FIBRE: we often gravitate to the fibre sources that taste sweet, like loading up on fruit, or breads and starches that break down into sugar fairly quickly. Instead, I try to LOAD my plate with as many green things as possible. And when I think I have enough, I load up some more! This helps move the food s l o w l y through our system so that we can better absorb nutrients and helps to keep blood sugar stable(and that's a plus for weight management too!).
4. THE EXTRAS: As much as possible, I try to cook my own food. That way, I know exactly what's in it. And what are those things usually? First, a pinch of natural, real SEA SALT. This has all the minerals my body needs, as compared to "table salt" which is chemically produced and contains a disproportionate ratio of sodium compared to other minerals. If I'm adding a sweetener, I'm always adding the real deal: honey, maple syrup or real vanilla extract. No zero calorie stuff, No artificial stuff. Because inside the body, these substances often look very similar to our hormones and natural chemicals that our bodies produce. And if they LOOK just like those hormones but don't ACT like them, then the body doesn't quite know how to process them, eventually causing all sorts of imbalances and health issues. And lastly, I'm all about those healthy oils. If I'm baking at HIGH temps(400 degrees +), then I'm using avocado oil or grape seed oil. As a finishing oil(after removal from heat) or at medium-low heat, my go-tos are olive oil and coconut oil. And on cold salads, I get out all those fun Omega 3 containing oils like flax, hemp. An easy way to get the right ratio of Omega 3s, 6s and 9s is to get a bottle of UDO's oil, which is a mixture of various healthy oils that can be used on any cold foods. This is usually found in the refrigerated section of your local health food market.
Happy eating everyone!