With all the diet fads and advice out there, many of my patients are overwhelmed simply by deciding what to eat each day.
I have found that sticking to a few simple guidelines has made all the difference in eating a healthy diet in a way that you can sustain over a lifetime:
Eliminate all flour.It doesn’t matter if it’s gluten-free, organic or paleo – once the wheat, nuts, seeds or roots are ground up and exposed to air, they lose a lot of nutrients from oxidation and exposure to light. Foods we turn into flour go to great lengths to protect their soft inner “meat” from light – most have a hard shell and then have a dark skin covering the nutrient-dense food on the inside. Nature is brilliant in creating nuts, seeds and grains in this way – it’s a perfect built-in protection.
To extend shelf-life, commercially milled flours remove the germ, which contains nutritious oils, vitamins and minerals. This also increases their glycemic impact, increasing the likelihood of weight gain and dysregulated blood sugar.
Then, baking flour products at high heat ruins the healthy fats in the food.
An in-between step would be to freshly grind or mill your own flours and use that flour immediately to preserve some of the nutrition.
Eliminate refined sugar.While it may seem like a no-brainer, this is a huge stumbling block for many people. Most of us know that refined sugars don’t bring any nutrition to the table. What you may not realize is that your body still requires certain vitamins and minerals to process sugar, so it will rob those nutrients from your body to assimilate a sugary treat. Refined sugar is actually a double whammy – it brings nothing to the table and steals from the healthy food you’ve previously eaten.
Sugar is also highly inflammatory, leads to weight gain, and negatively impacts mood.
A place to get started would be to use sugars that have more nutrition in them like coconut palm sugar, raw honey or maple syrup.
Stress less.When we get stressed out about food (or anything, really!), it actually stimulates cortisol production in the body, which works against insulin and wreaks havoc on our blood sugar, messing with our metabolism.
Not only does that cause more inflammation in the body, it actually makes us seek out foods that are higher in calories and store excess fat.
So make changes one realistic step at a time. Focus on what you feel good about. Think about the plethora of foods you want to eat, rather than what you want to eliminate. A deprivation mindset never works.
When you really want to connect with the best foods to eat, slowing down and listening to your body is the only guide you’ll need. Because you know how you feel when you eat foods that aren’t truly nourishing – crabby, depleted and unsatisfied. Maybe even bloated. Your body is here to direct you to exactly the right diet for you.
Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.