We continue this journey of clean eating by learning what’s best to eat and drink. Apply these tips to your diet style and you will reap the rewards. Start simple, stay strong and rock on.
Eat 5 to 9 servings of vegetables per day
For those who are new to clean eating, we start with vegetables. I frequently encounter people who eat no more than one serving of vegetables per day. This is a far cry from the recommendation that 50 percent of our diets should come from vegetables. If you fall into this category, starting here is your best bet for optimizing health.
Simply by increasing the vegetables in your diet, you are gaining health benefits that include added vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, hydration and so much more. Start by setting small goals to slowly increase your servings. Add a small bag of chopped carrots as a snack. better yet, try out the green smoothie to add vegetables to your breakfast routine!
Drink water, not sports drinks
So many of us drink multiple beverages throughout the day that are not pure, plain water. There are sports drinks, energy drinks, soda, alcohol and so much more. We are trained to believe that we need these drinks to feel better, hydrate and perform. What we end up consuming is often full of sugar, chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
The truth is, we need water and that’s it. Water keeps us hydrated and healthy. It’s the true elixir of life. Save commercial beverages for treats, not your daily routine.
Don’t know how much water to drink? A good rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water. I tell my patients to drink enough water so that their urine is pale yellow in color. Everyone’s body is different, so learn your sweet spot with water consumption by watching your urine.
Eat a rainbow
As a scientist, I get geeked out about things like phytonutrients. These are the chemical compounds found in plants that promote health and vitality. Different from the macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that our body needs to function, phytonutrients are like the bonus foods or the icing on the cake that enhance our health. I’m talking antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, cancer prevention and SO much more! When you hear words like carotenoids, resveratrol, phytoestrogen, lignans and flavonoid, these are phytonutrients.
How can you add more phytonutrients to your diet? It’s simple. We know that phytonutrients are what give plants their color. To make things simple, if you eat a variety of colors, you will get a variety of phytonutrients. Here’s to your health!
Eat super foods
Super foods are foods considered especially good for health and well-being. There is a lot of overlap between phytonutrient-rich foods and super foods. Try to sprinkle in some of these super foods for a bonus for your health.
- Red wine in moderation
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, chia, flax, hemp, walnuts, pumpkin
- Green tea
- Turmeric and spices
- Red, yellow, orange and leafy green vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Fermented foods
- Kefir yogurt
Fat once was vilified as the source of our chronic disease and weight gain. For a long time, most diets centered around fat free or low-fat foods. What we saw was that instead of our rates of chronic disease going down, they continued to climb.
Did we ever have it wrong! Fat is a macronutrient critical for brain health, reproductive health, healthy weight control and more. Fats also help us absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K. I try to make sure I have a bit of healthy fat with every meal!
While certain types of saturated fats or processed fats are inflammatory and can cause chronic disease, good fats are important. Make healthy fats about 30 percent of your diet by using extra-virgin olive, coconut, avocado and flaxseed oils, and by eating grass-fed meats, wild salmon, sardines, cod and egg yolks. Even small amounts of grass-fed butter can be part of a healthy diet.
In the third and final part of this series, we’ll learn how to read labels, how to experiment with healthy carbs, how to fill up on fiber and how to approach clean eating.