Tips for Healthier Eating
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
In a previous blog, I discussed the critical importance of good nutrition in human health. To summarize, I said that proper nutrition is unarguably the single most important weapon in the prevention of disease and the creation of health and great function. Further, I said that the dictates of our genetic programming determine what constitutes either “good” or “bad/improper/inadequate” nutrition. Below I would like to outline some specific tips that you can use to improve how you think about, shop for, and consume food.
Some years ago, I read a couple books that were very influential on my thinking about food. Both books were written by Michael Pollan. The first was entitled The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and the second was called In Defense of Food. Some of the tips and principles listed below are derived from these books. Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. What he means by this succinct statement is that it is critical to eat foods in a whole and unadulterated state. Processed foods that might be unrecognizable to your great grandmother do not count as “food” in this equation. Obviously, eating too much makes us fat. The last part of the statement, “mostly plants”, means that it is important to emphasize plants in the diet such that, for example, a plate of food might have mostly vegetables with a modest serving of some protein source.
Here are some tips that derive from this basic equation:
- Really, don’t eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. For example, she might not recognize a tube of Pringles as being related to a potato.
- He recommends not eating anything with more than five ingredients, or anything that has ingredients that you cannot pronounce.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. You will find that fresh produce, meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and other staples, are all arranged around the perimeter of the grocery store. If you stick to these things and avoid, as much as possible, the interior aisles of the grocery store, then you will, without even thinking, eat a more wholesome diet.
- He suggests that you not eat anything that won’t eventually rot or go bad. Most “food-like” items are full of preservatives that, while good for shelf-life, are not necessarily good for your life and health.
- This next one might seem controversial, and a bit counterintuitive in American culture, but he recommends that you not eat until you are completely full. Rather, discipline yourself to leave the table just a little hungry, like 4/5 full. This type of nutritional discipline is quite common in other cultures and is another way of emphasizing the importance of portion control. Another way of thinking about, and applying this principle, is to reduce your portion to ½ or 2/3 of what you might normally take. You might even dish-up a full plate and then put some of it back.
- Take time when you eat; and eat with people you love. Eating is not just some mechanical process, but also involves the heart and mind. It is essential to good digestion and the transformation of your food to fuel that you do not eat hurriedly or in an agitated mental state.
These next tips are more directly from me:
- Reduce your consumption of foods that are high in carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates that will tend to increase your insulin levels and force your body to store fat.
- Drink more water, lots more water. Divide your current body weight in half; that is the number of ounces of water you should aim to consume each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then you should target consuming 75 ounces of water each day. Please note that coffee and soda pop don’t count as “water”, and actually count against you in this calculation.
- Identify foods to which you are sensitive and eliminate those from your diet. Consuming foods to which you are sensitive on a regular basis will promote systemic inflammation and cause a host of physical complaints. Talk to any of the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness about Food Sensitivity Testing.
- Reduce your consumption of refined grains and dairy products. These two items are the most common food sensitivity offenders. Avoid gluten-containing grains and dairy products for two weeks and see how you feel. Then reintroduce these foods and see how you feel. You be the judge.
- Eliminate foods that contain hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids and replace them with foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and natural, non-hydrogenated oils. For example, consume more olive oil, avocado,canola oil, and virgin coconut oil.
- Eat a lot more vegetables and fruits. Make them a staple rather than merely a side accompaniment.
- Take nutritional supplements. There are very few people who eat a diet that is sufficient in the micronutrients so essential for the repair and building of healthy tissue and cell function. This is because we live in a relatively toxic world, tend to eat a lot of processed foods that are devoid of micronutrients, eat hurriedly and under stress, and are eating foods that are grown in mineral deficient soil and/or are adulterated in some way. Start with a multiple vitamin. Add such nutrients as magnesium, fish oils, vitamin D3, and probiotics. Ask any of the staff about the “Fargo’s Fabulous Five” nutritional supplements.
This all might seem a bit overwhelming, if you have not either paid attention to, or actively pursued nutritional improvement. I can assure you that, even if you just pick one thing above, you will start to feel better and will stay healthier and heal faster. If you have questions about how to apply any of the above tips, or would like guidance with your nutrition, then do not hesitate to ask one of the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness for help. We are all experienced with, and actively apply, these nutritional principles to our own lives and the lives of our families.