The Magical Formula for Eating Like a Wellness Rockstar

A recent survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute asked Americans about their diet from the previous day. Only 9% had consumed three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit. One in nine had no fruits or vegetables at all. In the United States, 46% of every food dollar is spent on meals and snacks away from home. The typical American consumes about 140 pounds of sugar a year. Clearly, our focus is not on healthy eating!

The decision to get rid of chronic health problems, prevent disease, and improve the quality of your life begins with changing your food choices. Real food provides your body with the fuel it needs to optimally function, as well as the raw materials to begin to detoxify and heal.

A balanced, properly prepared whole foods diet can be a powerful form of resetting the body. Too often, we don’t make the connection between what we eat and some of the symptoms we suffer. Of course, there’s much more to living a healthy balanced life than simply the food we eat. However, it’s a great start! Here are some very basic principles to help you make your food work for and not against you.

The Magical Guideline for Eating Like a Nutrition Rockstar:

Aim for 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. All day, every day.

About half the food on your plate should be carbohydrates—vegetables, healthy grains. Add a good portion of protein at every meal. Then, add some fat. It’s that simple!

Some more details…

CARBOHYDRATES (aka anything that comes from plants):

  • Vegetables: Eat huge amounts—you cannot overdo it here—especially lots of leafy greens. Go for rich color and variety. Eat something raw at every meal and all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Fruit: Eat moderate amounts of fresh fruit.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates: The average American gets 50% of their calories from refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs (i.e. white bread, white rice, pasta, instant oatmeal) are grains that have had the fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, bran and germ removed—all the nutrients, which stresses your digestive and endocrine system. Eating refined carbs also uses up precious vitamins and minerals to process them. Instead, try brown rice, whole grain oats, quinoa, amaranth, and millet.
  • Sweeteners: Minimal, very occasional. Less is best. If you must, opt for real sugar or maple syrup over anything artificial (NutraSweet, Sweet and Low…)
  • Avoid refined sugar. Refined sugar increases insulin and adrenal hormone production, depletes vitamins and minerals, feeds yeast and other “bad” organisms in the gut, leads to mood and energy swings, increases cravings, disrupts sleep, and increases pain and inflammation.

PROTEIN:

  • Pastured, organic, grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs are excellent, healthy sources of protein.
  • Dairy products should be unsweetened organic whole milk-based only (no low fat, no sugar/fruit added).
  • Consider healthy sources of vegan protein as well: hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, nuts, beans and legumes, and spirulina.

FATS:

  • For the past 60 years, Americans have been on low-fat and/or poor quality fat diets. We are a society extremely deficient in healthy fatty acids. On top of that, the fats and oils many of us have been using are refined, unstable and dangerous to consume, as the processing methods these fats are exposed to make them toxic to our bodies.
  • The research from decades ago that suggested that fat consumption was responsible for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity has now been debunked as flawed and false. Problems arise when we eat unhealthy fats, such as hydrogenated oils.
  • Fats benefit our health and wellbeing in so many ways: they satisfy our appetite, they are the building blocks of healthy hormones, they enhance mineral absorption, they provide a long-burning source of energy, they are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, and they aid in the formation of anti-inflammatory substances in the body.
  • Good fats are vital for every aspect of health: nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado. Avoid “vegetable oil” or “canola oil”—no oils in clear bottles on the grocery shelves.

LIQUIDS: Drink good quality water throughout the day. As a general guideline, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.  You can add fresh citrus or mint for flavor. No sodas, juice, vitamin water, or sweetened drinks. You need water to keep your cells hydrated and protected, to eliminate waste and ensure the health of your mucus membranes. Adequate hydration will improve a number of health problems including sinusitis, constipation, inflammation, allergies, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and many others.

Remember: Always choose the best quality products possible. When possible, choose Certified Organic.

Avoid processed foods, fast foods, chemically treated foods, and industrially prepared foods. Pay attention to the quality of the ingredients that go in your mouth. Eat foods as close to Nature as possible.  Shop, plan, and cook for yourself. Avoid packages. Just eat real food. (There is no pasta tree!)

Pay attention to how the food you eat makes you feel. If you’re getting bloated, headaches, energy crashes in the afternoon, think back to what you’ve eaten all day. Did you have enough protein and fat at breakfast? Look for patterns. Focus on the foods that make you feel good. This is a balanced way to eat that shouldn’t make you feel deprived, but rather should make you feel physically and emotionally healthy and vibrant–like a wellness rockstar! Occasional parties and splurges are a part of life, so enjoy. But you may find that you feel so healthy eating like this, the splurges just aren’t worth the physical after-effects!

Why Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

If you’re like me, you grew up hearing the message that eating fat would make you fat. Low fat eating was the only way to go. We cooked out of the American Heart Association’s low fat cookbook, we ate Snackwells fat-free cookies, and butter might as well have been arsenic. Americans ate that way for decades. And guess what? As a nation, we got sicker and fatter.

Fat is an absolutely essential ingredient for life. Just some of the many roles our dietary fats play in our bodies include:

  • Fats make up the membrane of every cell in our body. The health of that membrane is critical to every process every cell needs to do, whether it’s excreting toxins, taking in nutrients, or making a muscle contract.
  • Fats are critical for the absorption of many of the vitamins we eat. Without fat, those vitamins (A, D, E and K, specifically) cannot be utilized and are just excreted after eating.
  • Fats play a vital role in fighting inflammation and promoting healing.
  • Fats are critical to the creation of hormones, including those all-important sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
  • Fats make you feel satiated, make your food taste good, and allow you to eat less food and feel fuller, longer.

Our bodies are meant to run on fat, as it provides us with the best long-burning source of energy. Unfortunately, most of us are fueling our bodies with carbohydrates/sugars. (Note: carbs are anything that comes from a plant, which includes sugar and grains and fruits. Every carb we eat is eventually broken down into its simplest sugar form, glucose.)

Every time you eat carbohydrate-heavy foods, it sets off a cascade of hormones in your body, as the body tries to process all that glucose and store it away for use. The problem is, our bodies become so hyper-sensitive to the nonstop flood of sugar most of us are eating, that our hormones overreact and do too good of a job processing the glucose. As a result, our blood sugar levels plummet (you know that crash you feel an hour after you eat a giant plate of pasta? Yeah. That.), and we are left craving more sugar or stimulants such as caffeine to try to get our energy back up. Low-fat high-carb eating sets off a chain of events that can lead to hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and even type II diabetes. Our bodies can only handle so much sugar bombardment.

Beyond that blood sugar roller coaster though, the fact is our cells can only store away some of that processed glucose. Once our cellular and liver storage is full, but we continue eating more carbs, that processed glucose gets stored away as fat. There’s just nowhere else for it to go. Body fat. Belly fat. Fat. Sugar makes you fat.

When we eat meals that contain a good portion of fat, a few things happen. First, we feel full, happy, satisfied. We eat less. And we can go longer without wanting to eat again, because we’ve given our body long-burning fuel. Our cravings are reduced. Fat also slows the absorption of carbohydrates, so any sugars you have eaten will be much less likely to spike your blood sugar. And at the cellular level, we are building strong bodies, tissues, and cells.

Low-fat eating is a certain route to cravings, blood sugar issues, sleep disturbances, and even more severe disease. Give your body what it needs, and include some healthy fats every time you eat.