Ginger’s Food Rules: The Seven Commandments of Healthy Eating
Rules, rules, rules. People are confused about what to eat. There is a lot of information about healthy eating available on-line and in books. Unfortunately, much of it is conflicting. It is difficult for the average person to figure out what sources are most reliable.
There are a couple of successful and reliable books published with the title Food Rules. Food Rules by Catherine Shanahan gives a guide to healthy eating with a real food, Paleo-diet slant. Shanahan gives a lot of great advice, but there are 97 rules related to food and another 20 about more general health and lifestyle issues. This is likely to be overwhelming for most people.
Another book titled Food Rules is by Michael Pollan. Pollan is a journalist who has written a number of popular books and articles on food and eating. His most famous quote about healthy nutrition is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” While this is a good general guide for almost everyone, the book Food Rules then gives 64 principles for healthy eating. This, again, may be too much.
After studying health and nutrition for the past ten years and working with numerous clients, I have developed my own food rules. I share these with clients as the starting basis for their own healthy eating. I have made 7 rules, not 64 or 97. If God gave only 10 commandments, who am I come up with more?
Ginger’s Seven Food Rules
Eat Real Food
Our grandparents’ generation would not have distinguished between “food” and “real food”. Unfortunately, we have to do this today because 68% of what Americans eat is ultra-processed food. Real food is fresh or frozen food with one or two ingredients. Everything in the produce section of the grocery store is real food. Packaged or canned foods that are minimally processed are also real foods. Some examples of these include plain whole-milk yoghurt, canned beans or tomatoes, rice, and nut butters without added sugar. Read more about what to eat and why in the article “Just Eat Real Food”.
Eat Lots of Plants
There have been numerous studies about the benefits of eating a lot of vegetables. The article “Eat Five or More Vegetables a Day” discusses some of those. Whole fruit, beans, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are also beneficial plant foods. Often one or more of these needs to be restricted by individuals due to their health status. For example, diabetics often need to restrict whole fruit and grains due to blood sugar issues. Many others, including myself and most of my nutrition clients, eliminate some of these foods due to food allergies or sensitivities.
Limit added sugars
Sugar, no matter what the name is an inflammatory food. Historically, added sugars, whether cane sugar, maple syrup or honey, were only available in small quantities and were very expensive. In 1860 Americans were eating a little over 20 pounds of sugar per person, per year. Now we consume an average of almost 120 pounds! Read the article “Sugar, Friend or Foe” to learn more about added sugars and what types and amounts are recommended.
Eat (some) animal protein
Protein is a required macronutrient. People need to eat a minimum of about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to get the amino acids we need for good health. Many people need more than this amount on a daily basis. While protein can be obtained from many plant sources, there are some nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fats that are most available in animal sources. Animal products also provide the amino acids in the ratio that we most need. I encourage my nutrition clients to eat at least some animal protein on a regular basis. The best sources are pasture-raised and organic meats and eggs or wild-caught seafood and game.
Use traditional fats
Dietary fat, especially the saturated kind, was demonized for a number of years because it was thought to lead to heart disease. Scientific studies have confirmed that consuming excess processed carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, are far greater contributors to poor health than most fats. Certain fats such as trans fats and refined oils like corn, soy, canola and margarine are inflammatory. On the other hand, traditional fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, virgin coconut oil, ghee and organic butter are healthy and can be used for cooking. Nut and seed oils such as flax, macadamia and walnut also are excellent oils to use on salads.
Purchase and eat organic food as budget allows
Organic food is more expensive than conventional and it is often not easy to figure whether it is worth the cost difference. Each family has to determine their budget priorities for themselves, so I am not dogmatic about how much to buy. “Why Buy Organic Produce” gives some guidance about the benefits of purchasing organic versions for at least some of your fresh produce. There are many chemicals, including GMO’s that are not allowed by law in organic foods. Regularly consuming organic meats, eggs, produce and grains will reduce the chemical load on our bodies, so is to be encouraged. Organic chips and cookies are still “junk” food and therefore should be eaten only as treats upon occasion.
Eat traditional foods such as bone broth and fermented foods
Fermented foods and drinks contain probiotics, which are good bacteria. These are excellent for our digestive system and overall health. Try and consume a small amount of varying types of fermented foods on a daily basis to strengthen your gut health.
To learn more details about any rule, click on the links within the rule. This will take you to other blog posts discussing aspects of that rule. If you follow Ginger’s Food Rules, you will be well on your way to your best possible health.
Once you are using most of these rules consistently you may want to review your macronutrient ratios. This article will help you learn how to adjust your macronutrient ratios.
For personalized help with determining the best foods for you contact me here to set up a complimentary 20-minute telephone consultation.