There is a chorus of noise in the health food industry. The loud cacophony begins the moment you enter the supermarket. Regularly, new schemes, products, and programs pop up. They make promises to transform your body and improve your health. Why does eating have to be complicated and confusing? There is an eating plan that is not complicated, restrictive or expensive.
We’ve come to rely on diet gurus and eating programs to instruct us on how to fill our plate and our grocery cart.
Game Night Was Like a Failed Diet
A few years ago, we got a new board game for Christmas. The instructions seemed reasonably simple until we started playing the game. I clutched the game instructions tightly in one hand and awkwardly moved my pieces with the other. My head buried so deep in the directions that I needed a nudge to take my turn.
Suddenly, the family game night felt more like after school detention. The words entertaining and educational written in bold red letters across the front of the box sneered at me.
Before buying the game, I read countless reviews. The majority of them raved about how the game improves decision-making skills, reasoning, and logic. Why didn’t this Oppenheimer Award-winning game produce the hall of fame memories that it did for other families?
You’ve probably guessed it by now. We never played the game again, and it took up permanent residence on our game shelf. My expectations for endless hours of riveting strategy and family fun crushed.
Eating has become very much like our board game—confusing and complicated. Trendy eating plans and celebrity-endorsed diets promise quick results, but the reality is you end up making little or no lasting progress in your health.
For being such an advanced culture, we can’t seem to figure out the basic skill of what to eat. So much food at our disposal, but we still can’t crack the code on the best way to nourish our body.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine asserts that as a nation, “80% or more of all health-care spending is tied to the treatment of conditions rooted in poor lifestyle choices.”
What is the best diet or eating plan for health and wellness?
Let’s review the most popular diets and eating plans out there.
The Mediterranean – follows the traditional eating plan that prevails in the Mediterranean countries. Features foods like olive oil, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, seafood, and limited consumption of meat
Paleo – emulates the eating patterns of the Stone Age. This eating plan features foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. The Paleo diet emphasizes a deliberate avoidance of processed foods.
Keto/ketosis diet – a very low carb diet, eliminating all forms of glucose, which pushes the body into a state of ketosis. Dr. Axe explains that Ketosis happens when most of the body’s energy comes from ketone bodies in the blood, rather than from glucose from carbohydrate foods (like grains, all sources of sugar or fruit, for example)
Nutritarian – a high-nutrient diet rich in plant-derived micronutrients, particularly antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent disease.
Intuitive Eating – encompasses the practice of “paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness, reject diet mentality and food rules, and adopt body-positive behaviors, like exercising and eating food that makes you feel good.”
Vegan – an eating plan that excludes all animal products (eggs and dairy as well).
Intermittent Fasting – is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.
Low Carb Diet – restricts carbohydrate intake from all food sources.
Research Says… (drum roll)
A recent study conducted by D.L. Katz of Yale University School of Public Health and S. Meller of Yale University School of Medicine studied several dietary plans, some of which I mentioned above, and concluded that:
” a diet of foods mostly direct from nature and predominately plants is supportive of health across the life span.”
Back in 2007, food journalist, Michael Pollen in his pivotal article in the New York Times unraveled the optimal eating plan in seven words.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
This should be liberating for you. Knowing that there is not a one-size-fits-all meal plan gives you the freedom to enjoy a buffet of real foods that nurture and sustain your body.
How to Put This Eating Plan Into Practice
The first step in reforming your eating plan or habits is to fill your refrigerator with foods from nature. Of course, that means that you will steer your cart around the perimeter of the grocery store.
The second step is to continue to refine your food detective skills when reading labels, even with foods you buy along the perimeter of the store. Although it’s along the perimeter, most brands of yogurt are often full of sugar and synthetic ingredients.
The third step is to buy organic following the Dirty Dozen list. Let’s be real, for most of us, going completely organic is unaffordable. Take baby steps and start with the dirty dozen list.
The fourth step is to eat home more than you dine out. It’s impossible to inquire about the ingredients of your food while in the drive-thru lane.
If you eat at restaurants, you could ask your server about the ingredients in the meal you ordered, but the chances are he may not even know or have the time to inquire.
The fifth step is to evaluate how certain real foods make you feel. Wellness journals help you track your well-being. Cultivate the practice of maintaining a wellness binder so that you can make informed decisions about modifying your eating and wellness plan.
Now Get Started
Now that you discovered the world’s easiest and healthiest eating plan, it’s time to implement the plan into your daily life. Does this mean that you shouldn’t do one of the eating plans described above? Of course not, you just don’t have to restrict your eating to just that plan.
It could be that certain components of an eating plan work well for your body so continue to incorporate those components. Trust your body’s responses to real food.
If you struggle with how to start and foster a real food lifestyle, consider health and wellness coaching.
Health and wellness coaching is a tool chiefly about discovery, awareness, and choice. It empowers you to cultivate lasting changes that will improve and sustain your health and well-being.
Shara-Rae Jansen says
Denise Sultenfuss says