Tips for Progress in Healthier Eating
Nourishing foods can be defined as those foods that are whole foods that are in their natural state, such as a whole apple, or minimally processed, like steamed fresh green beans. Depleting foods are those that have little or no nutrients. Examples include refined foods with lots of white sugar, flour, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine or preservatives.
In my studies at Hawthorn University to be a nutrition consultant, I learned that one way most Americans can improve the quality of their diet is by adopting a food plan they call 85/15. The 85/15 way of eating describes a diet that consists of 85% nourishing foods and only 15% depleting foods. Since most people eat 21 meals per week this could equate to 3 meals that are depleting (an example would be a fast food meal of burger, fries and soda). It could also include an equivalent number of items spread out among more meals. People on the Standard American Diet (it’s SAD!) may be eating virtually all depleting foods unless they eat green salads, other vegetables or fresh fruits on a regular basis. It does not have to be all or nothing. We are looking for progress, not perfection!
Because I have a number of food sensitivities, I have learned a number of strategies to increase the consumption of nourishing foods over the years. Many of these may be easy for you to adopt.
- Make homemade salad dressing using olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I make this on a regular basis and often take a small container of it with me when I eat out. This will help you decrease your intake of omega 6 oils, GMOs, sugars and other chemicals because most commercial salad dressings include all of these.
- If you do not already regularly eat salads, try and have a main dish salad with lots of veggies instead of a sandwich on most days for lunch.
- Substitute stevia for sugar or artificial sweeteners in coffee and tea. The “Sweetleaf” brand does not have an aftertaste and is widely available, including at my favorite store Kroger. I carry a few packets in my purse for when I eat out.
- Substitute butter, ghee, olive oil and coconut oil for refined oils in cooking. Refined oils are full of omega 6’s, transfats and GMOs and are very inflammatory to the body.
- Another strategy is to substitute the whole-food version for a refined food. For example, you should eat plain whole-milk yoghurt with fresh fruit instead of commercial sweetened yoghurt, or freshly ground peanut or almond butters instead of packaged ones. Kroger and many other stores allow you to make your own fresh ground nut butters there.
- Prepare homemade snacks such as popcorn or crispy nuts instead of buying microwave popcorn or commercial nuts or chips. This way you can control any added ingredients as well as the freshness of what you eat.
If you try one or more of these suggestions and make them regular habits, then you will be making progress towards eating a more nourishing diet. You don’t have to be perfect to make noticable improvements!