There is confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet. We can look at world populations and good scientific research and notice some aspects of a healthy diet:
Our body needs good food to renew cells and tissues.
Our body does not need, nor does it want, negative ingredients in processed foods.
The best foods are those that are nutrient dense and calorie poor.
The problem is malnutrition and can be easily resolved with nutrient rich foods.
We should choose foods by the ingredients they contain, not what is missing.
Nobody’s diet is perfect. Our goal is to continually improve our choices.
Foods contain macronutrients:
Carbohydrates, proteins and fats which give us calories
Fiber and water give us bulk and have many benefits
Foods contain micronutrients:
Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
These provide no calories but are essential to our body’s processes
Raw food contains enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals
These important elements are destroyed by cooking.
However, a 100% raw food diet is not recommended
Some cooked food in needed.
Two things on the label are valuable: fat content and sodium content.
Fat calories should be no more than 20% of total calories.
Sodium (in mgs) should be no more than the total calories.
The ingredient list:
The ingredients are listed by volume.
Look for the word “hydrogenated” – do not buy
Look for “High fructose corn syrup” – do not buy
Look for multiple sugars; there may be excessive sugar
We can compare foods based on their calorie density.
Foods that are less than 400 calories (per pound) can be eaten freely.
Foods up to 600 calories per pound should be the basis of our diet.
Foods that are more calorie dense will cause weight gain unless you are active and exercise.
Those who eat the majority of their diet from the 1200 calories per pound foods will gain weight.
The value of a food can be easily decided. The closer it is to the way it came from the garden, the better it is. The more it is processed, the less value it will have.
Advertising is not the same as research:
Advertising is designed to sell us something.
Good research done by universities and medical centers simply state the results.
Our goal is to eat and be satisfied so that we are always in control of our choices.
Water and fiber have no calories but are important to our bodies and will cause us to feel full.
Foods that contain water and fiber will fill us up and we will eat fewer calories. These foods are starches: rice, corn, beans, legumes and whole grain pasta (when you cook pasta it absorbs water).
Focus on foods high in water and fiber
Focus on foods low in fat, sugar and refined carbs
Dilute the calorie density of foods: mix food higher in calories (pasta) with foods lower in calories (vegetables).
Eat foods low in calorie density first (salads, vegetable soups, etc)
The most important thing in selecting a food is not the taste, the convenience, your habits or the price; the most important consideration is its nutritive value.