It’s not easy sorting through the plethora of dietary information these days, but these four healthy diet non-negotiables stand the test of time and never go out of style.
Whether you're plant-based, vegan, paleo or simply embracing a healthy all round diet, these four tips should be the cornerstone of any wholesome eating plan, giving your body more of what it needs and less of what it doesn't.
These guidelines are not major lifestyle changes, but rather small tweaks to your consciousness around food that are easy to implement in your day-to-day.
1. Limit Packaged Processed Foods
If you can do one thing for your health, start by limiting your intake of processed packaged foods. Processed foods are any foods that have been significantly modified from their natural state.
These typically include:
- Breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits
- Supermarket Bread
- Canned vegetables
- Processed cheese products
- Microwave and frozen meals
- Savoury snacks, such as flavoured chips and crackers
- Pies, Pastries and Sausage Rolls
- Packaged meat products, such as bacon, ham and salami
Some packaged and canned foods have been hardly modified at all e.g. kidney beans, legumes and wild rice, so of course there's no need to be avoid these.
However, any foods that have been tweaked with additives like high-fructose corn syrup, flavouring agents, and emulsifiers should be a no-go zone.
Packaged and highly processed foods aren’t just unhealthy, but they are addictive as well, which can turn into a vicious cycle as you crave them more and more.
By shopping around the edges of a grocery store, you can expose yourself less to packaged, processed food and instead see more fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains that will nourish you and support good health.
2. Avoid Refined Sugars and Grains
Natural sugars in whole fruits, vegetables, raw honey, sugar cane and grains, are completely healthy and normal, but once they're refined it's a different story.
Refined sugars and grains are included in a wide range of products on your supermarket shelf, which range from canned soups and salad dressings, to deserts, cereals and sauces.
These refined sugars and grains can wreak havoc on your gut health, sustainable energy and they can cause inflammation, obesity, heart disease, and more.
The worst part is, refined sugar has many names that food companies sneak onto labels to disguise them. These can include:
- Evaporated cane juice
- Corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Corn sweetener
- Anything ending in “ose” or juices and syrups
Opt instead for natural alternatives like raw organic honey, pure maple syrup and medjool dates to sweeten your food, smoothies and deserts.
Use these to satisfy your sweet tooth and you’ll quickly lose your addiction to refined sugars.
Try the RAW Juice Powders for healthy but delicious “living” juices you can have anywhere, anytime instead of bottled juices from your supermarket.
When it comes to bread, pasta and rice choose whole grain or organic brown varieties whenever you can instead of the heavily processed and refined white versions of these foods.
Learn more in 5 Healthy “Super’ Grains & How Best to Prepare Them.
3. Eliminate Chemical Additives
Over 90% of food products on today's supermarket shelves contain chemical food additives and preservatives, as well as fillers and highly addictive ingredients that can easily be avoided by being more conscious when you shop.
The most widely used food chemicals today include:
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial Food Colouring
- Sodium Nitrite
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Trans Fat
Common foods that contain these ingredients, include bottled sauces, flavoured snack foods, energy and protein bars, flavoured yogurt, confectionary, stock, packaged cereals and lunch meats.
It takes seconds to look at the label on a product to see if it contains chemical additives before adding it to your shopping basket. A good rule of thumb is this; If you can't recognise or pronounce the ingredient on the label, don't buy the product.
When buying a packaged food, the best products are those with the smallest list of ingredients on the label. The problem these days is that food companies are adding chemicals to our food to make it tastier, with emptier calories so that you'll come back for more and more.
Most of the population is malnourished even though obesity is out of control. Obesity is a sign of malnourishment because when the cells that are malnourished or constantly blocked from receiving nutrients due to digestive inefficiency, they will continue to send messages to the brain to eat more until they get what they need. Chemical foods feed this cycle of malnourishment.
This is exactly what happened with MSG, which is added to fast foods or Asian cuisines to make it tastier. But we’re now understanding that it is not only incredibly addictive, but can also lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and more.
Remember that food companies want a customer for life, so they will do anything to market food to you and keep you craving it.
It's easy to flavour your food with sea salt and natural sugars and spices, without resorting to the harmful, addictive effects of chemical additives. Your body will thank you for it.
Learn more in 5 Harmful Food Preservatives to Avoid.
4. Add More Raw (Plant Food)
No matter your diet or lifestyle, there’s absolutely no harm in adding more raw, plant-based food to your diet but there’s a world of benefits.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Raw Nuts and Seeds
- Whole grains
- Cold Pressed Plant Oils
Raw whole food is food in its most natural state the way the earth intended for us. It's loaded with anti-oxidants and phytonutrients which feed and nourish the cells with vitamins, minerals, whilst delivering crucial fibres, carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein.
Raw food isn’t just good for you because it lacks additives, but because it actually feeds the body and brain of vital nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Plant foods are so important for preventing and fighting inflammation, all dis-eases, and improving your energy, emotions and focus.
Raw food means food with just one ingredient. If you can include at least one raw whole food at every meal, you’ll be in good shape. This isn’t a drastic lifestyle change, and it doesn’t mean depriving yourself. You’re simply adding more good, whole food into your diet, which naturally leaves less room for unhealthy foods. Soon, you won’t even miss them!
More Healthy Diet Non-Negotiables:
- Eat only when you’re hungry, eat mindfully, and stop right before you’re full. Your body needs time to realise it’s full, so this will help prevent you from overeating
- Snack on raw nuts, seeds and fruit in between meals not processed, sugary snacks
- Drink more water than you think you need, every single day. Almost all of us are in a constant state of mild dehydration, which is preventing our bodies from running most efficiently and depriving organs of important hydration.
- Get plenty of sleep, fresh air, and exercise. They have an immediate and significant effect on your cravings, energy, and health.
These steps are common-sense, simple, intuitive and suitable for everybody.
You’ll soon find that they become ingrained and you won’t have to consciously have to think about it anymore. Your body will know what to do and what you should feed it, and it won’t be confused anymore by chemicals and additives.
Start with one of these healthy diet tweaks a week and within a month you’ll have made a significant improvement to your health and wellness, while staving off sickness and dis-ease.
Tolman Self Care.