Every time you put something into your mouth, you can think of it as a chance to promote your health or destroy your body. As an old saying goes, “genetics load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Every individual is different in the way we metabolize foods, fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. One thing is true for nearly everyone though, a balanced nutrition plan with natural sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber will enhance our health and recovery, and improve our output in all aspects of our performance.
A good place to start is by watching the colors we eat and focus on the diversity of plants and fruits every time we take a bite! We must control the food that goes into our body each time we have the opportunity to eat or snack. After all, we are what we eat; more importantly, we are also what we digest, absorb, and able to get rid of! So, choose wisely… and ASK: “What’s in it for me?”
There is such an abundance of “diets” out there. Lots of sources are aiming to get our attention, and a vast majority of them give us false hope. They simply want to give us good news about our bad habits and/or offer impossible ways to eat which set us up for failure or social self-detachment (e.g. I can’t eat with my family, can’t eat out, can’t spontaneously enjoy a meal with friends, etc).
After all is said and done, it is always our choices in the end that determines our results.
The foods that we choose to put into our mouths have the opportunity to give us our life back. Therefore, choose more vegetables and fruits and fill up our plate or bowl at least halfway with vegetables/fruits (see photos taken as samples below).
It is crucial to incorporate a wide array of colors from vegetables and fruits from various groups throughout our day. These colors will help promote healing to every organ in the body, which help us achieve optimal health and eventually influence every facet of our lives.
Some tips for starting your nutritious journey:
- Eat whole foods instead of packaged and/or processed foods; vegetables should be the largest part of your food plan.
- The best way to start eating fresh and sustainably is by eating with the season. Certain foods grow in specific geographic regions at any given time of year. Be willing to try a new plant food (vegetable/fruit/legume/seed/nut/ whole grain/spices) and eat more variety of colors!
- Stock up on canned organic beans and frozen fruits or vegetables for easy cooking. Note that some foods are more nutritious frozen or cooked while others are best eaten fresh or raw.
- Go to the grocery store on a full stomach and shop the perimeter; select produce first!
- Use the fresh/easily-perishable foods first while saving the heartier/hardier ones for later in the week. Keep fruits readily available for snacks or desserts!
- Have dishes with lots of variety of colorful vegetables; choose darker over lighter to maximize nutrient contents!
- Treat meats of all kinds as a condiment, not as a main course (this may differ if you are on a high-protein gaining cycle or competing in a strength sport/competition). Fishes are fine if they are wild-caught and low-mercury; avoid large predatory fishes which are highest in mercury levels. Remember the “SMASH” acronym for healthy, low-mercury fish options: Salmons, Mackerels, Anchovies, Sardines, and Herrings/Haddocks.
- Minimize simple carbs, including treats/sweets, soft drinks (whether regular or diet), fruit juices, alcohol, donuts, etc.
By making more health-promoting food choices on a daily basis, we will prove to ourselves the power of food that can nourish our body, mind, and spirit. Just remember, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”