As a Naturopathic Doctor, I see in my practice how confused my patients get about what they should eat. Should they eat low carb, high protein, low fat, high fat, count their calories or just focus on healthy foods? I understand their confusion, so today I want to share my four main guidelines that I think will be helpful for everyone to help them feel their best.
- Eat less grain based carbohydrates and refined sugars – if you look at a caveman/cavewoman Paleo diet, only a small percentage of it consisted of grains. It was way too much work to grow grains, harvest them, grind them, and then make them into something. Today a much larger percentage of our diet is made up of grains, and on top of that many of them are very genetically modified, which makes them more work for us to digest. We are no longer cavepeople, but we haven't evolved as quickly as these changes have occurred. These grains affect the bacterial balance in our gut (that's a whole other discussion), and raise our insulin levels. Elevated insulin is a risk factor for depression, dementia, cancer, diabetes, and inflammation in general, which is a factor in so many chronic diseases. It also causes us to feel hungrier.
- Increase Your Protein – protein takes longer to digest, so it allows for steadier blood sugar levels. That also means that it fill us up more, so that we eat less food. Protein includes things like meat, eggs, fish and shellfish, protein powders, nuts, seeds, beans, peas and lentils.
- Increase Your Healthy Fats – like protein, fat also takes longer to digest, leading to balanced blood sugar levels, and feeling full. You want to consume a mix of saturated fats (coconut oil), unsaturated fats (olive oil), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oil). So don't be afraid of fat – the low fat diets of the 80's and 90's actually led to an increase in high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Fat is a big part of what gives our food flavour, so without it, sugar needs to be added, which leads to the problems in the first point I made. Low fat also means that we take longer to feel full, so we end up eating more.
- Increase Fruits and Vegetables – most people don't consume nearly enough fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, you want to aim for 2 cups of fruit and at least 3 cups of vegetables per day. These foods contain lots of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, all of which are so important, and ideally should come mainly from food, not supplements.
If you would like to learn more about exactly how to do this, when the ideal time of day is to eat these foods, and how often you should be eating, then this is something we can discuss in clinic (if you are a patient), or you can join my next 30 day online "Your Best Life Program" on April 1. Registration hasn't opened yet, but let me know if you are interested in joining.
Until next time,
Dr. Jennifer, ND