We all know eating healthy has a huge impact on health, but there is so much contradictory information going around that we often end up feeling confused. The reason is much of the information that circulates is based on advertising, biased research funded by industries promoting their products and a general lack of awareness.
So what is actually healthy?
1. A Whole foods plant-based diet is healthier
The balance of evidence today clearly weighs in favor of a whole-foods plant-based diet: think a variety of vegetables including leafy greens, fruits, legumes (like beans), nuts and seeds, and unrefined grains (quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, bulgur). These foods are the best sources of protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and Omega 3s in the sense that they are high in nutrients and don’t come with the nasties of meat, dairy and eggs (animal protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, growth hormones and neuro-toxins that are present even in organic and free-range products). Last year Harvard researchers concluded that “replacing animal protein with plant protein was associated with lower mortality.”
Healthy tip: Find plant-based recipes you enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner and start incorporating more of those meals in your diet. To feel the full benefits, try eating 100% whole-foods plant-based for a month.
2. Ditch processed foods
I ask myself: does this grow in nature? If the answer is no, I try to avoid it. Packaged foods with a long shelf life and a long list of ingredients are to be avoided.
Health tip: switch packaged and sugary cereals for oatmeal (rolled oats), quick to cook with a non-dairy milk of your choice. Add fruits, nuts and seeds for toppings.
3. Replace dairy milk with non-dairy alternatives
The fact is, all dairy, organic or not, is full of growth hormones. Dairy is also linked to conditions like asthma, eczema, allergies, digestive disorders, and of course weight gain. It’s also terrible for the environment and the animals are forced to lactate continuously.
Health tip: Try soy, almond, rice and oat milk, and invite your favorite into your fridge. There is no need for cow’s milk for toddlers after they are weaned and if they eat a balanced diet. (Almond Mylk Recipe)
4. Ditch the oil
Yes, you read correctly. All oils, including coconut oil and olive oil are super high in calories (roughly 120 calories for one tablespoon) and low in nutrients. There is actually no need for oils in our diet, and even Extra Virgin Olive Oil damage the endothelial cells in our arteries.
Since most places outside use oil, my recommendation is to reduce it at home.
Health tip: swap your oil based salad sauce for oil-free ones. Think lemon juice or tahini. Try to cook without oil when you can.
5. Ditch refined sugar, embrace fruits
Sugary drinks, aspartame, zero calories sodas, ice creams. These have no place in a healthy diet. Try instead smoothies with bananas, dates, maple syrup, coconut. Don’t worry, fruits do not make you fat.
Health tip: Try “nice cream”. Freeze peeled bananas and blend them with your favorite flavors: frozen strawberries, peanut butter, or dark chocolate. No sugar needed as bananas are naturally sweet. You’re welcome.
6. Ditch supplements, except for B12
If you do not have a deficiency and eat a variety of whole-foods, there is no need to supplement your diet. The only supplement we need is B12. B12 is a bacteria naturally present in soils and river streams and is essential for our nerves and brain function, so it is recommended to supplement in our modern lifestyle.
Health tip: look up natural foods to boost your immune system. Side effects: you may find your hair and your nails grow faster and stronger.
7. Fast once in awhile
The digestive process takes up an enormous amount of energy. Once in awhile, it deserves a break too.
Health tip: Try eating your dinner a bit earlier, and your breakfast a bit later to allow 12 to 14 hours between the last meal and breakfast. You can also try juicing for a day or more for a deep cleanse.
8. Better, not perfect
Don’t obsess over eating perfectly all the time. In a social or a family setting it’s not always easy to eat as healthy as we would like, so it’s ok to give in.
Health tip: offer to cook your favorite healthy recipe to family gatherings, and surprise everyone with how healthy can taste delicious too.
Everything we need is in abundance in Mother Nature. All we need to do is to reconnect with nature and realize we are a part of it, not apart from it.
What is your favorite health tip?
Note: This article is written entirely from the point of view of the author.