One of my core beliefs is that food should be good… and by “good” I mean deliciously satisfying. Before deciding to become a dietitian, I pondered becoming a chef or a baker because I love love love food… cooking it, tasting it, sharing it. (Although I don’t love grocery shopping, as I have mentioned before.) For me food is a huge adventure and I have every intention of getting the most out of this amazing, adventure-filled life I have been given.
I also have said that I believe treats can and should be part of a healthy eating pattern and that taste is as important as nutrition when choosing foods. After all, we need food for our physical health… and our emotional, spiritual and mental health.
Of course, this isn’t an open invitation to eat whatever and whenever you want. We must learn to like foods that are good for us and follow some basic guidelines about how to nourish our bodies. I outlined my top 10 guidelines in part 1 and part 2 of this series, and here I give you the last 3 items for a set of 13 lucky steps to help you use the power of food. (Note: I’m starting with #11 to show these come after part 2.)
11. Choose the best versions of healthy food.
If you’re ready for these steps, that means you are already eating 6+ servings of vegetables and fruits every day, you’re getting protein and fat at most meals and snacks, and you’ve cut out fake foods. Now that you are eating foods with plenty of macro-, micro- and phytonutrients to feed your cells, it’s time to choose the very best version of those foods.
If you can afford them and the foods are available to you, aim for the following:
- Organic veggies and fruits
- Grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat and dairy products
- Pasture-raised, antibiotic free poultry
- Wild caught fish and seafood
- Local and/or sustainably raised food
By following these basic guidelines, you will ensure that your food isn’t bringing other “stuff” into your body that you don’t want or need and that it has as many nutrients as possible.
12. Choose the best versions of treats.
Item #9 in part 2 was about keeping treats as treats. In addition to keeping them an indulgence and not part of your routine, you will do yourself a world of good by choosing the best version of those purely pleasurable foods.
This means eating real french fries and real potato chips… those made with only potatoes, oil and salt. Desserts made with butter and sugar and other whole ingredients (like these donuts). Drinking real soda, rather than chemical-laden diet sodas. Choose treats that have as many real ingredients as possible.
As well, eat the best version of treats according to your taste buds, and skip less-than-stellar versions. Don’t drink wine just for the sake of it. If it doesn’t taste awesome, pass on it. Bad wine is doing you no favors what-so-ever. Don’t eat chocolate just because it’s there; choose to eat chocolate that makes you dance with pleasure (like the La Maison du Chocolat chocolates above that I savor every time my husband surprises me with them). Don’t dive into just any old mac’n’cheese; wait until the very best version is available and then revel in it.
You deserve to look and feel amazing. And you are worth food that is equally amazing!
13. Personalize your diet to only those foods that make you feel your best.
This is perhaps the most important point of this whole list… you are unique and that means the right way of eating for you is not the right way of eating for anyone else. I know we all want the answer to be different, but there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet. And there certainly isn’t a magic bullet that will allow us to eat any- and everything while also achieving optimal health. As a result, you have to figure out what works FOR YOU!
You do this by being conscious about the interaction between your mind, body and food. Notice your state of mind before you eat so you know why you are eating and why you are choosing the food that you are. Look for patterns in how your body feels before and after you eat certain foods. And realize that even if a food is supposedly “healthy” that it may not work for you, so don’t be afraid of building an eating plan that works for you regardless of what others say.
Eat less (or none) of what makes you feel bad and lots of what makes you feel good. And I don’t mean feeling good temporarily, but leaves you feeling vibrant, alive, satisfied and like the phenomenal human that you are!
There you have it… my 13 steps to build the perfect way of eating to keep you healthy and fully satisfied.