Last week I posted the introductory article to the Food Selection Guideline Series. If you haven’t seen that yet, please check it out here.
The four food selection principles that I’ll be covering in this series are as follows:
- Incorporate a proper balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in your diet.
- Think Variety. Think Seasonally. Think Locally.
- Research your water supply and select a good source and/or filtering system.
- Avoid refined and denatured foods including:
- Refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Refined sugar and corn syrup products
- White flour products
- Canned foods
- Pasteurized, homogenized, skim and low-fat dairy products
- Artificial vitamins
- Toxic additives and colorings
- Refined table salt
The first food selection guideline refers to getting the right amount of the right type of food. That sounds pretty straightforward, but I know that it’s actually the most confusing and complex for the majority of people.
Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are called macronutrients. They are the 3 big boys in the nutrition world. All foods fit into one of these categories, and many foods fit into more than one category. You need foods from all three. Always.
Any diet that tells you to cut out a full macronutrient group is dead wrong and you should really never consider adopting a diet like this. Each macronutrient plays a vital role in your health and vitality. And although your body is an incredibly intelligent organism, it can only compensate for so long before it starts to malfunction if its not getting what it needs! (I’m referring to the low-carb and no-carb diets like the Ketogenic diet, which has its time and place)
Throughout history, humans across the globe have survived and thrived on vastly different macronutrient ratios. From the Inuit peoples who ate mostly whale blubber to African tribes who survived on mainly root vegetables, it’s clear to see that we truly are perfect omnivores. While humans can eat such a variety of foods, we all have our own unique ancestry that gives us a genetic predisposition to do our best on specific ratios of macronutrients.
What if you don’t know what that looks like for you? You can start with a standard macronutrient ratio and adjust it based on how you feel. A standard recommended ratio that I use with my clients is:
If that were to be on a plate it would look something like this:
Protein is pretty straightforward. One serving of protein is about the size of your palm. Trying to get one full serving of protein in each meal is very beneficial. Protein is the building block of your body and helps you build and maintain your muscles and connective tissues. If you want to stay strong and vital long into the afternoon of your life, then prioritize high quality sources of protein.
Whenever you can you should try to select organic meat. I know it’s expensive, but the truth is it’s really worth the extra money. Not only because the nutrient profile of humanely raised animals is much better for us (making it actually less expensive per kg), but also because you aren’t exposing yourself to antibiotics and extra hormones. On top of the fact that it will help you sleep better at night knowing you’re doing something to go against the nasty state of factory farming.
I believe the part of figuring out how much to eat that people have the most trouble with is in understanding and visualizing what 30% fat actually looks like in real life.
For a 2000-calorie diet, 30% will work out to around 65 grams of fat a day, an example of that looks roughly like this:
2 tbsp grass-fed butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 whole eggs
1 6oz serving of sirloin steak
I personally know that 30% fat is a bit low for me, I can eat this much fat at breakfast 😛
There is absolutely nothing wrong with thriving on a higher fat diet. Forty, fifty even sixty percent fat diets can be very good for some of us. The great thing about fat is that it often reduces cravings for sweets and leaves you feeling full for longer. Fat is a slow burning fuel and our body does very well when it’s trained to run off of fat rather than relying solely on sugar (carbohydrates).
Speaking of carbohydrates, I know they are also a large source of confusion. Let me break it down for you- any carb that comes from the ground, or a bush, or a tree- is not a “bad carb”. Your diet should consist of 15% of complex, starchy carbs (think potatoes, plantains, sweet potatoes etc.) and the rest should be low-glycemic carbs like leafy greens, colourful veggies as well as 2-3 servings of fruits.
Carbohydrates that come from a factory or a processing plant are however always undesirable. Some processed foods are not as bad as others, but the reality is- foods come from nature in the form that they were meant to be consumed. The more things that are added and taken away from them, the harder time the body has in dealing with them.
Let me clear that up a little more. In nature, foods come with the ratios of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that work best together. The body gets a complimentary package of nutrients that makes digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals much easier.
When foods have nutrients taken away through different forms of processing, the body has a more difficult time absorbing what’s left because often times vitamins and minerals work as cofactors for one another (i.e. they help each other get into our cells). Additionally, when foods are fortified with extra vitamins, think milk and vitamin D, the body has a hard time using those as well because they aren’t being served in the proper packaging. On top of the fact that the body can’t use the majority of synthetic vitamins anyway!
This is why I can’t stress to you enough that when it comes down to it, you should JUST EAT REAL FOOD. JERF BABY!
Don’t worry about which protein bar is best, just eat a real source of protein. Don’t worry about which cracker is healthiest, or which sprouted organic bread or pasta is the best, just don’t buy it!
I know our lives are heavily based upon what’s most convenient, but the truth is that all the other stuff really won’t matter if you don’t have your health.
I am all about taking it one step at a time with getting healthier- and I know it’s a long road. I’ve been trying to make changes gradually for more than six years and I still have a long way to go. But health is not a destination; it’s a way of travelling.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and think you could use help getting started, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line HELP! and we can set up a time for a free consultation.
PS. Stay tuned for Parts 3-5 coming soon!