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Eating Healthy: Where Do I Start?

21 September 2012 2 comments

Recently, I’ve had a number of people ask for more information regarding the food choices my family makes.  I’ve made many posts here with tips and articles, but I have yet to give a simple game plan for someone who’s starting from scratch.  I’ll do that now!

Why Should I Change What I’m Eating?

If you’re eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), odds are you’re experiencing some of the common side effects: digestive issues, joint pain, skin issues, lethargy, anxiety, depression, etc, etc.  Some people think these are just the “pains of getting older”.  Others will go to the doctor, who will prescribe you pills to lessen those symptoms, but that won’t address the cause.  Changing your diet likely will.  Either way, it’s certainly worth a shot to try!

But I’m Already Eating Healthy!

I used to think that too.  Orange juice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, pasta, low fat salad dressing, Gatorade, skim milk, peanut butter.  Those were some of my favorite foods and I thought I was doing great!  But, the truth is many of those foods are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients.  And the low fat foods combat the simple fact that fat is actually good for you!  But, the worst offender may be the grains.  Grains (bread, pasta, corn, beer, etc) cause many digestive problems and wreck havoc on our bodies.

So Where Do I Go From Here?

Click on the image for a larger view

I know most of my food posts relate to Paleo; however, we’ve recently been leaning more towards The Perfect Health Diet.  It’s very similar to Paleo, but there’s a bigger emphasis on carbs.  We’ve (I keep saying “we” because my wife is the brains behind this operation and does an insane amount of research) read numerous articles – and even seen it in ourselves – that low-carb eating doesn’t work long-term.

Most people don’t have the time and/or the inclination to do a ton of research on changing the way they eat.  So, my simple suggestion is read this one page on The Perfect Health Diet and try it out.  Give it a few weeks before you form an opinion.  Sometimes a few days is all it takes before you start feeling really good.  Many of the aforementioned problems will start to magically disappear – joints won’t hurt, skin will clear up, your mind will feel clearer, your mood will improve, and hopefully more.  It sounds too good to be true, but it’s all related to what you put in your body.

What If I Want to Read More?

It’s great to take my word for it, but there are so many good resources out there to help you understand what’s going on in your body as well as motivate you to keep at it!

  • The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf – the book we read to get us going down this path;  it’s great!  Minus the few heavy biological chapters, it was funny and informative.
  • The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson – I haven’t read this or any of his other books, but I’ve read an innumerable amount of his blog posts.  He’s a great writer who backs up everything he says.  Plus, wouldn’t you want to look like him when you’re 58!?
  • Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet – Admittedly, I haven’t read this, but their diet is spot on with what we believe, so I’m sure the book is great.

Give It To Me In Simpler Terms

I’m trying to keep this simple, but if you’re still wondering what foods to buy, let’s try this.  Each meal you should have some of each of the 3 macro-nutrients.  Here they are with some example foods:

  • Protein
    • Grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken and eggs, bacon, etc*
  • Fat
    • Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, almond butter, macadamia nuts, lard, beef tallow, etc
  • Carbohydrates
    • Any veggies, fruits, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white rice

* -Keep in mind that whatever animal products you eat, you’re also eating whatever that animal ate.  Thus, the emphasis on free-range chicken and grass-fed beef.  Same goes with eggs and pork – if you’re able to get them from a local farm or somewhere where the animals are cared for and fed properly (aka no grains), you’re better off.  However, that’s not an option for everyone, so do what you can!

Sample Meals

Below are some sample meal ideas to get you off an running.  Or here are some more.  Once you get used to this, it becomes easier and easier.  Try experimenting with herbs and spices (especially fresh ones).  Look online for Paleo recipes or check out the many great recipe books.

  • Breakfast
    • I posted about this a few times because it’s difficult!  But, you can’t go wrong with bacon and eggs with a fruit smoothie
  • Lunch
    • Hamburger (sans bun, of course!), salad w/olive oil, sweet potato
  • Dinner
    • Chicken, veggie, white rice stir fry

It’s a big change when you go to the store as you stay only on the outside wall where the produce and meat departments are.  You very rarely need to venture through the aisles because that’s mostly processed foods!  There are a few processed foods that are okay, but you’re best to stay away as much as you can.  For instance, potato chips seem simple enough because the ingredients are potatoes, oil, and salt.  However, 99.9% of the time, the oil is one of the awful varieties (sunflower, safflower, peanut, etc), so you’ll want to avoid them.  Luckily, we’ve recently found (at Ollie’s, of all places) Olive Oil Potato Chips.  These are a decent option if you have kids and are looking for an quick carb option.

The only other processed foods we like are GoGo SqueeZ Applesauce and Bare Fruit Apple Chips.  They each have exactly ONE ingredient: apples.  Also, I’ve kept a running list of packaged foods we like – including olive oil, butter, and coconut milk – on this Pinterest Page.

In Summary

  • Okay to eat
    • Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, starch, healthy fats, nuts / seeds
  • Avoid
    • Processed foods, sugars, grains, dairy, legumes, vegetable and seed oils

I rarely write 1,000 word blog posts, so hopefully this was helpful!  As usual, I’d love to hear your comments whether you post them here or write me personally.

Good luck!

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