After reading one of my favorite health related books, The Slow Down Diet by Marc David, it completely transformed the way I looked at nutrition and the way I thought about “what to eat?”.
In the book, Marc David emphasizes the power of elevating the quality of your food. He defines quality as,
“...any or all of the following: real; fresh; organic; gourmet; lovingly crafted; homemade; locally produced; heirloom varieties; nutrient dense; low in human-made toxins; grown and marketed with honesty and integrity; tasteful; filled with true flavor, not virtual ones that mask the absence of nutrients and vitality. Quality means that care and consciousness permeate a food, and that the food itself has a good story to tell.”
I don’t know about you, but thinking about quality food in this way sounds like a normal heart-centered approach to choosing the food we eat.
Prior to reading this book, I had read many other health and nutrition books such as the China Study, Skinny Bitch and The Beauty Detox. All of these books emphasized the importance of a whole foods, plant-based diet which did not include meat, dairy, oils, gluten, or any processed foods.
I strongly believe in the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet and completely respect all of the nutrition research findings that support this diet. These books really opened my eyes to the potential toxins in our foods and the negative effects of consuming a high meat and dairy based diet.
Although I believe in this information and think a lot of people can really thrive on this way of living, it just wasn’t working for me and I wasn’t sure why. I tend to take a very “All or Nothing” approach to dieting which usually looked like ALL in for a few days and all OUT for way more days. I could never 100% commit to this diet for more than 4 or 5 days (and really sometimes you just want to eat a pizza with real cheese, ya know?).
I often found my body craving meat or feeling like I was depriving myself which usually just lead me to binge-eat or to completely stray away from healthy foods for a few days. Then of course I would feel guilty or like I failed because I just couldn't stick with it 100%. I knew this was no way to live and it really wasn’t productive for my overall health.
After completing my health coaching course and being introduced to The Slow Down Diet, I started to realize that maybe it really wasn’t beneficial or necessary for me to try to be so extreme and completely overhaul my diet.
I learned that there actually could be a middle ground or what some would call a “balanced” healthy lifestyle.
So today I am working on consistently choosing the highest quality foods for my body, whether that’s organic bacon or organic full fat cheese (two things that I would have earlier deemed “unhealthy” and felt extremely guilty for eating).
Now, I focus on listening to my body instead of trying to restrict or deprive myself. I still limit dairy and have greatly reduced my meat consumption, but when I do choose the highest quality of these foods I feel I can release the guilt and fully enjoy myself. This also allows me to feel empowered in the choices I am making which then leads to making healthy choices the majority of the time.
I really try to stick to the whole 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I eat nutritious, high-quality whole foods and 20% of the time I may just have some pizza or a cupcake. It's called balance ;).
So, you may still be wondering “But, What do I eat and what is quality food?”
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Here are 8 Tips for Choosing High-Quality Foods:
Choose Organic, Free Range, Hormone Free Foods as Often As Possible Pro tip: If you're on a tight budget, use the dirty 12 or clean 15 list to help you prioritize which foods to buy organic.
Read Labels & Aim for Less than 5 Ingredients Look for whole food ingredients on labels. Anything you can't pronounce probably isn't a whole food!
Shop the Perimeters of the Grocery Store Ever notice all the real food is along the edge of the store and the middle of the store is filled with highly processed foods? Try to stick to the edge of the store for the majority of your groceries.
Bake Your Own Desserts with Quality Ingredients There are so many healthier dessert recipes online now that you'd be silly not to just make some yourself. Yeah, it may take a little more time or effort, but I assure you they will be healthier for you than those store bought desserts and taste better! If you're looking for a blog with amazing healthier dessert recipes go here.
Reduce and/or Limit Meat, Dairy, Gluten, & Sugar Consumption All of these foods are inflammatory and can have negative affects on your health. You may want to try going without them for a while and slowly reintroduce them to see how they really affect your body.
Eliminate Trans-fat, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, & Hydrogenated Oils I think this is pretty well known now, but make sure you read your ingredient lists and just stay away from these at all costs.
Eliminate White Sugar & White Flour There really isn't anything nutritious about white sugar or flour. They highly processed and not necessary for your diet. Read this for healthier sweetener options. Instead of white flour, replace it with 100% whole wheat, almond flour, or coconut flour.
Stay Away from Fried Foods If you're craving some chicken nuggets and french fries, then just bake them at home. They are just as good and way healthier without all that grease and oil.
Remember, no matter what you choose to eat:
Focus on high-quality at least 80% of the time
Let go of perfectionism & focus on progress
Use food for pleasure, energy & nourishment (not to numb out your feelings)
Eat what you want, when you want it - but only until satisfied (listen to your body - no need to stuff yourself!)
I promise if you are able to shift your perspective about what your eating to thinking about choosing high-quality foods you will feel much more satisfied and energized throughout the day. You may even naturally start to lose weight, be healthier, and happier.
Don't forget, it's not ONLY about WHAT you eat that matters, but HOW you eat is just as important.
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