Although no standard set of rules is perfect for everyone, these guidelines can help people of every shape and background get on the path toward vitality. Following these principles 80 to 85% of the time will give you more energy, better sleep, a leaner body, glowing skin and much better digestion … and who doesn't want all that?
1. Avoid added sugars, whether they're visible, hidden as starch, or artificial.
That's the best advice I have for you! Eat too much sugar every day and you'll grow old in a hurry.
Although I have been dubbed the “Sugar Police,” because of my strict stance against the stuff, many people don’t know that I actually spent a long time addicted to sugar. I constantly felt tired, lazy, insecure, or bloated, and I suffered from severe eczema and had digestive issues. Plus, I always craved sweets, bread, and cereal.
Maybe you can relate?
I'm not the only one who hates sugar. A recent study published in JAMA found that consuming too much sugar (which most of us do) is linked to an increased risk of heart attack, dementia, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver problems, cancer, and more.
Sugar has many names (including sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, starch, corn starch, and modified high corn syrup.) But not everyone realizes that bread has almost the same negative effects on the body.
White bread is particularly problematic because the nutrients from the wheat have been removed, leaving only starch and gluten. My clients who eat white bread often say that they experience bloating, pains, mental confusion, digestive troubles, and worse.
Whole wheat bread is a bit better for your blood sugar and digestion, but even if the bread is made up of healthier grains like rye or barley, it still contains gluten, which for many people causes digestive trouble. In the end, there isn’t much nourishment in bread that you can’t get by eating other foods.
If you do just one thing, cut sugar from your life! To read more about how I got off the sugar roller coaster, read this.
2. When (and if) you choose to eat bread, eat whole grain products.
Your body can't use the refined products. If gluten's not for you, choose whole grain gluten-free foods (such as wild rice, quinoa, and millet).
3. Don’t avoid fat. Instead, choose the right fats — they are slimming and good for you.
Many of us blame fat for causing obesity and heart disease, even though this isn’t true. Added sugar, starch from white bread, and pasta are the leading causes of these problems.
Your body needs healthy, quality fats for your hormones, nervous system, and immune system. It's essential for good mood and for taste! Among healthy fats are saturated fat from grass-fed animals. This might come as a surprise, since for years it was thought that animal fat is the killer fat. It can be, if the animal is raised on grains and processed food, but NOT if the animal is fed on nontoxic grass.
Organic coconut oil is good for cooking at high temperatures, but avoid cooking with organic virgin plant oils (like olive oil and flaxseed oil), which have a lower smoke point. It’s also good to have avocado and pumpkin seed oil on the table at home.
4. Eat good quality protein from grass-fed animals, organic eggs, fish and plant-based proteins.
If you constantly feel tired, both physically and emotionally, you may need more protein. Good quality grass-fed animal protein, organic eggs, and wild fish are a great source of all the amino acids that the body needs. It’s a bit more of a challenge to meet your protein requirements by only eating plant-based foods, but a good combination of nuts, organic tofu, sprouts, lentils, legumes, and wild rice can do it.
5. Enjoy nuts, almonds, seeds, and kernels every day.
These are great snacks loaded with nutritional value. Even better, they're perfect for combining with other foods to make healthier meals, treats, and desserts.
6. Eat for beauty by getting several cups of organic greens, vegetables, fruits and berries everyday.
Although nutrition experts disagree on the best way to eat, there is a consensus that we should all eat less meat and more greens and vegetables. When you optimize your food intake to include all the colors of the rainbow, you're also optimizing your vitality. Whole foods that are red, orange, green, purple, yellow and blue — they’re not only beautiful, but they send healthy messages to your body via phytonutrients that "turn on" your health-promoting genes.
7. Drink 1½ liters of water, as well as pure vegetable juice, green tea, and herbal tea everyday.
The human body consists of 70% water. It’s essential, period. If you don’t drink enough, you'll feel tired, confused, constipated, dehydrated, and suffer from dry wrinkly skin. Green tea is the mothership of herb tea, rich in nutrients, a great energy booster, and an inflammation-fighter. Enjoy green tea every day! If you absolutely must have coffee or alcohol, choose only top quality and enjoy in moderation.
8. Eat regular meals, and never skip breakfast.
There are three major reasons why people skip meals: (1) They don't have time, (2) They think it will help them lose weight; and/or (3) They have been misinformed that this can be healthy. Unfortunately, these ideas are all wrong.
Skipping a meal won't save you time, it will only make you tired and confused, costing you more time later as your performance at work or school slows down. Not eating in order to lose weight will switch on your biological defenses, slowing down your metabolism and actually making you gain weight. The misinformation is about not honoring your body’s needs and ignoring love for yourself.
9. Eat several small meals a day if the standard three-meal structure doesn’t suit your lifestyle.
Eating healthy is about getting variety and eating smart food combinations. Plant-based foods should take up the most room on your plate, about 40%. The healthy fats mentioned above should make up about 30% percent of your plate, and the last 30% could come from the good quality proteins. If your personal needs require a different structure, adapt accordingly.
10. Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement everyday, even if you eat a healthy diet.
Most of us live in a fast-paced world filled with multitasking, pollution, and other factors that stress the body’s natural functions. Keep in mind, too, that the soil in which we currently grow our food does not have the same nutritional quality as it did before the massive “pesticized” cultivation. Minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc are depleted from the earth in many places around the world. We also have to face that not all of us eat organic all the time. That’s why I recommend quality basic supplements, antioxidants, and vitamin D3.
If you want to take other food supplements, you should consult a health care professional who can take your personal needs into account.