With the plethora of knowledge out there regarding diet trends, nutrition plans, and fad diet culture, it can be hard to know what the right path is for you and your specific nutrition needs. Many left to their own devices will try to count calories or macronutrients in an attempt to lose weight. When we begin to associate numbers with food or fixate strictly on weight loss, we rob ourselves of countless opportunities to nourish our bodies at the cellular level and to prevent chronic illness down the line.
So you might be wondering what is the best way to structure my plate and plan for my meals in order to optimize my health while also not sabotaging my weight loss goals. This is where the concept of eating a rainbow a day can come into play, with an individualized approach. Colorful, non-starchy vegetables contain plenty of fiber that will keep us full as well as balance blood sugars when consuming carbohydrates with a meal. Colorful plants also contain chemicals called Phytonutrients, which are the component that gives each plant a color. Each color signifies a major benefit that provides information for our bodies. For example, I am sure you have heard that blueberries will raise your IQ. I cannot say whether or not this is truly the case, however, the dark color of the berry indicates the presence of anthocyanin- known to have protective benefits for the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, it can be stated that dark-colored foods such as blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage, and even black rice contain healing properties for our brains. When we look at food as information for the body versus just calories or macronutrients, we get a better understanding of how we can better nourish our bodies based on our specific goals and even propensities.
Now, what about the balance of the different food groups? This is where the confusion often sets in. In order to simplify things, we will break down the main food groups into 4 categories: protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and fats.
With protein sources, it is important to focus on opting for animal sources that are raised in their native environment, have ample amounts of pasture time, and have a high-quality diet. These include meats such as grass-fed beef or lamb, wild-caught fish like salmon or sardines and free-range poultry. In addition to these animal proteins, you may also opt for plant-based proteins from nuts, seeds such as chia and hemp, as well as lentils and beans.
When considering carbohydrates for your meals and snacks, there are two routes you can go - low starch or not so-starchy. Some low-starch carbohydrate choices include leafy green veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Also for non-starchy carbs, you can choose from a variety of fruits such as berries or even some melons or apples.
For fats in your diet, focus on healthy sources such as unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil( great for cooking), and avocados. If you prefer to get your fat intake from animal products such as eggs, then it is important to opt for pastured sources when possible. Omega-3 fatty acids are so important for the health of our gut, brain, and cardiovascular health. Opt for wild fish, seeds, and nuts for great sources of fats.
When putting together meals incorporating these different food groups that provide us with information about our body's needs and healing potentials we may find that portion sizes become less of a concern overall. Instead, we may find it easier to start making changes when we focus on simply eating whole foods from great quality sources. However, as a general rule, we do recommend about 1/2 plate of colorful vegetables per meal and a palm-size serving of protein minimum. See the blog post, 'One Man's Medicine is another Man's Poison' to see how you may combine this basic knowledge of nutrition with your specific needs for healing. We are all created so differently and have diverse needs based on our unique lifestyles and biology.
Before trying to follow a strict diet or buy into a fad/trend, consider the basics of healthy eating by opting for a wide variety of colorful whole foods, and high-quality options. While quantity does matter to a degree, it is important that we do not become so fixated on numbers that we neglect feeding our bodies real foods and the phytonutrients they provide. When we change our thinking around food, we may find that lasting health and well-being are within reach after all.
Eating Plan Guidelines: https://www.tclmuniversity.com/braintrain