Updated: March 6th, 2013
Confused about this? So is everyone else. Even the “experts”.
There are countless opinions, methods, books, and bulls**t out there about how to eat healthy.
Let me try to make it simple for you. Here is my best attempt to summarize how to eat healthy in 10 simple tips.
Some smarty-pants might say: “It’s simple! Just eat according to the national food guidelines!” Actually… no, it’s not that simple. 1
As a healthcare professional and amateur athlete, nutrition is of particular interest to me. However, it’s certainly not my area of expertise. Therefore, I won’t get into a lot of research or boring stuff here. Just 10 simple tips that I feel summarizes the fundamentals of almost every respectable nutritional ideology. I do plan on writing more about this and the research of nutrition in the future.
For now, just the foundation:
1. Eat vegetables. A lot of them. You knew that already? Well, do you eat a lot of them? Didn’t think so. This is the most obvious, fundamental idea that the vast majority of people simply don’t practice. People seem to rather take their vegetables in concentrated pill form. Unfortunate.
2. Stop being terrified of fat. Many fats are good for you. There’s even debate about whether or not saturated fats are all that bad. Low fat foods usually have added sugar, which makes them arguably no better.
2.1 What are bad fats? It’s those weird ‘hydrogenated’ and ‘trans’ fats found in junk food. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Avoid processed “junk” food. And foods with lots of added sugar. Eat real food. If you can’t recognize the ingredients, it’s probably not good for you. Oh you knew this already? See number 1.
3.1 Do not demonize particular foods. Stop saying “cheat meal”. Go ahead, have the cookie (just don’t eat the whole box). Don’t cultivate a bad relationship with food. Enjoy it. Moderation etc.
4. Don’t ignore calories – eat them. Calories matter. If people try to tell you any different, they are selling you an ideology – a book or something. Calories may not be the whole story for weight loss, and everyone is different… but to act like calories don’t matter is ridiculous. Furthermore, I’m not saying you need to reduce them – sometimes, people get too little, especially people who are very active.
Don’t starve yourself. Please. Thanks.
5. Tons of protein isn’t necessary. If you eat real, whole foods, you probably get enough protein. Protein makes you feel full, so eating more might help you if you’re trying to reduce calories. Same with fiber (which should be fine if you’re following tip #1).
5.1. If you are a vegetarian/vegan, you’re probably fine, but I’d pay some attention to this.
6. Some people just can’t eat <insert food group here>. This only matters if you have trouble with your guts. Yes, some people are sensitive to gluten, lactose intolerant, etc. It’s best to talk to your doctor about these things, and/or simply experiment with cutting particular things out. But to say that “gluten is killing you” and asserting that we are all meant to eat a particular way is again, ridiculous.
7. Supplements? Meh… only if you might have a nutritional deficiency.
7.1. There is some hope for Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, and Probiotics – from the research I’ve paid attention to. But that’s a maybe. And if you follow the tips above, you probably don’t even need a multivitamin!
7.2. If you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or powerlifter, Creatine and protein powders might help.
8. Learn to cook. Get out of the habit of eating out. Plus it’s fun. And sexy.
9.1. Stop snacking. Eat meals.
9. Eat with people. Eating together is something every culture has enjoyed. Eat with family and friends every chance you get. Food isn’t just fuel – it’s culturally, socially, and psychologically significant.
10. Stop reading about nutrition on the internet. Even here.
These tips are for a long term, sustainable diet for good health and an active lifestyle. If you want to lose/gain weight or be a super athlete, you may have to adjust your diet accordingly. But no matter what your goals are, these 10 tips will likely hold true – at least as the foundation.
Disclaimer: Nutrition is a terrible topic to write about. I almost regret it already.
It’s probably the most controversial, yet most scientifically immature topic that I am aware of. A lot of opinions; very little reliable science. There are countless self-proclaimed guru’s who profit from people with a low self esteem and/or genuine health concerns. There are more scams and even dangerous information than there are credible sources of information. There is a lot of money to be made from this topic. Therefore, information is ferociously criticized by both researchers as well as business competitors.
Since it isn’t exactly my area of expertise, I am likely setting myself up to receive similar criticism. Oh well.
If you want to discuss this list, comment below! Constructive criticism is welcome! But selling garbage is not.