“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” ~ Remy in Ratatouille.
I’ve been working towards healthier eating habits this summer, starting with getting a lot more vegetables and fruits into my diet. The weekly CSA farm box has been a big part of getting this process going.
A box like this keeps me going all week. Plus I really enjoy the surprise of what is in there each week.
I decided to dig a bit deeper and do a bit of research. I stayed away from questionable sites, opting instead for those of some reputation. I suppose the first thing people think about regarding healthy eating is the ‘food pyramid’.
So my first stop was at the Dept of Agriculture where I found out there is no more food pyramid! It’s been replaced by “Choose My Plate” (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ ). Then I moved on to major health institutions such as Harvard School of Medicine (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid/ ) and others.
Most encouraged a plant based diet with half of your meals being fruit and veggies.
As far as protein, it is suggest that one gets as much of your protein from plants as possible. For meat, limit red meat to twice a week, opting instead for fish or poultry. Stay away from processed meats of any kind. Research is now showing that up to one egg a day is fine in a healthy diet.
For oils, select vegetable oils such as olive or canola instead of margarine or butter. One suggestion was to add a bit of butter or bacon fat to vegetable oil if you just must have the flavor.
Switch from white (refined) to brown (whole fiber) pastas, rice, and breads. Use steel cut or old fashioned oats instead of instant.
“Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health, but most Americans get only about 15 grams a day.
Fiber comes in two varieties, both beneficial to health:
•Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
•Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.”
Reading up on water consumption was the big shocker. Most sources state that 8 glasses a day is NOT enough water, and that 10 should be the minimum for women…more for men. One site suggested a person should consider only water for hydration and other drinks as a treat.
Many people are chronically dehydrated; with the effect of low energy, headaches, trouble concentrating, and trouble losing weight. Also your body will cue hunger in an effort to get moisture if you are not drinking enough.
I bought a container that holds 80 liquid ounces so I know how much I have to go by the end of the day.
Be careful with fruit juices as you are getting a whole lot more fruit sugars with juice. One orange will yield two OUNCES of juice… so with that standard glass you are in taking four oranges! Wow. I’d never thought of it like that.
Something that has been working very well for me is to eat a breakfast of high fiber cereal with some fruit or yogurt around 7 to 8 am. Noontime lunch is the largest meal of the day, and mostly plant based. Dinner comes early – absolutely no later than 5pm. It is extremely light. Fruit, soup, or a smoothie.
My only issue is that it is very hard for me to maintain when I am away from home. But I’m working on that, mainly with portion control. (Don’t ask about my last visit to my family; birthday treats are a weakness and I was completely unrepentant. I paid for it too!)
But I guess the fact that I do feel it when I ‘fall off the wagon’ means something is working…