If you are among those who are convinced of the benefit of healthy eating but simply feel overwhelmed with possibilities and don’t know where to start, I suggest implementing the following nutrition basics:
- Sugar. Replace the white sugar with any other unrefined, raw version. Replace sweets, cookies, cakes and packaged snacks with fresh fruits, nuts and dried fruits.
- Grains/Starch. Replace refined/white with complete/ wholegrain. If brown rice and whole wheat pasta don’t sound too good, start by mixing it with what you normally use and then gradually increase the whole grain.
- Oils/Fats. Go for extra virgin cold pressed unrefined oils e.g. olive oil (great for salads but not good for cooking). On the other hand ghee and coconut oil are great for cooking as they withstand the high temperatures.
- Water. Try increasing the water intake. Replace the soft drinks with plain, filtered water or tea. If you can’t live without soft drinks, squeeze in some fresh fruits or make a fresh lemonade or orange juice.
- Salt. Replace refined, table salt with unrefined/sea salt.
- Milk/Dairy. If you can’t find “the real thing” (fresh, unpasteurized) then it is probably best to avoid it all together and buy yogurt instead. Tip: although not comparable with cow’s milk, you can use almond “milk” for your morning cereal.
- Protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs). I am afraid no compromise here, these you need to buy organic. Fish – avoid farmed and buy wild, caught. Try to avoid fish that is on top of the food chain.
- Vegetables/fruits. If possible, buy the organic produce, at least for those that belong to the “dirty dozen” (with the most pesticides): apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines (imported), cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas (imported) and potatoes. Unfortunately this is “North American Dirty Dozen”, maintained by Environmental Working Group and as far as I know there is no European list. In addition, you definitely want to avoid genetically modified (GMO).
- Start reducing slowly the number of processed and pre-packaged foods, sweets and grains/starch and start consuming more vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, eggs and fish.
Voila! The suggested changes enable you to target quite a few essential nutrients and implement a number of beneficial changes. Your food budget would typically need to increase for 10% -20%, but hey, by doing this you are likely extending your time on this beautiful planet!
Now, before going to the next level give yourself couple of months to get used to the new way of eating and observe your mood, energy levels, potential weight loss etc.
Good news – no limitations as to how much you can eat, provided you took care that produce is of organic and finest quality origin.