“Eat more carbohydrates!”
“Eat more protein!”
“Be a vegetarian!”
“Vegetarians are not healthy.”
“Raw foods are the healthiest thing out there”
“Don’t eat grains!”
“Eat more grains, but whole grains or multi grains?!”
YIPES!! Are you confused about how to eat to achieve optimal health? Even the research is sometimes confusing and contradictory! Every day some new piece of news is coming out on the health forefront that blows yesterdays theories out the window.
Since my early 30s, I have been deeply interested in health and nutrition. That was when I suffered from ovarian cysts which totally devastated my life at the time. I began to read and analyze everything available about nutrition. I threw out all my packaged, sugared and white foods and began buying fresh organic produce at my local market. It seemed simple then; just eat food as close to Mother Nature as possible and everything will be okay. My health improved dramatically and I knew that I was on the right track when my cysts went away. I stuck with the program and I have never felt better.
However, since then study after study has come out regarding what creates superior health. One good example is The China Study, published in 1990. This study looked at different villages in China; those that ate meat and those that were vegetarian. That study concluded that eating vegetarian was far healthier than eating meat.
On the surface, this looks like a good study. However, when you look deeper into it, you discover that there are numerous flaws in the study. For example, other studies indicate that healthy eating varies depending upon your heritage. If you come from an Asian background where meat eating was uncommon, then bringing a lot of meat into your diet can have negative effects on health. On the other hand, if your ancestors were meat-eaters, then you might find yourself feeling shaky and tired on a vegetarian diet. Therefore, a study that was done on Asians might not apply to people who are non- Asian.
I once read an excellent book on nutrition that stated we get all the protein we need from vegetable sources and that if we eat primarily fruits and vegetables, we will find ourselves feeling very healthy and energized. I wanted to put that into practice and I did. However, I know deep in my heart some people do far better on some animal protein, while others do better on vegetable protein. It seems perhaps that trying to find “One Plan Fits All” regarding nutrition, really doesn’t work.
There are only a handful of guidelines that I personally feel will promote excellent health:
- Eliminate or profoundly limit all sugars and other refined, processed products.
- It is important to eat foods that are nutrient-dense; foods with lots of nutrients like fruits and vegetables, etc.
- Processed foods (packaged) have no nutritional value whatsoever and I think we all pretty much know that! They may taste good and fill you up but they do nothing good for your body!
- Notice whether you feel better with more animal protein or more vegetable protein.
- Eat as close to natural as possible – organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- If you find that eating vegetarian or raw foods makes you feel much better, then read about healthy vegetarian and raw food diets and stick with those diets.
- If you find that you need animal protein to feel energized, and then look for the highest quality you can find.
My rule of thumb is I eat as close to what God intended and I buy as local/organically as possible. If people didn’t eat it 200 years ago, then it probably isn’t good for me now.
Years of poor eating habits may have your body a bit confused about what works best for you. The best place to start is by cleaning things out! I suggest trying a juice feast, my book Real Life Raw: 7 Day Juice Feasting is a great place to start. Juice feasting is about giving your body TONS of nutrition while cleansing your cells from the inside out putting you on the right track to a whole new healthier you.
Make Life delicious,
Chef Tina Jo