Eating too many heavily processed, non-nutritious foods on a regular basis potentially increases your risk of chronic disease. There are specific foods that are good for your health when they're eaten as part of an overall health diet.
Okay, so how exactly do you get started eating a diet full of healthy foods? The quickest way... drumroll please...simply double on fruits and vegetables at every meal. Divide your plate into quarters -- at least half should be filled with green and other colorful veggies or fruits.
Winning Fruits and Vegetables. Whole fruits, berries, and vegetables are all rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Choose green and brightly colored vegetables and whole fruits, including these:
- Sweet potatoes
Of course there's more to a healthy diet: don't forget about high quality protein sources and the right fats.
Winning Protein Sources. The best protein sources include most fish and seafood, and some plant-based sources. Examples:
- Wild Caught Salmon
- Plain Yogurt
- Dry beans and lentils
- Organic Eggs
- Organic Chicken
- Brazil Nuts
Winning Fats and Oils. Choosing fats high in omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids is important. Many of the protein sources listed above also contain beneficial fats, including fish and seafood. Choose these great fats:
Winning Beverages. Drink filtered, sparkling or bottled water, herbal tea, low-sugar green drinks and dairy substitutes.
Choose fresh foods more often and choose fewer heavily processed foods. Here are my tips:
- For breakfast, try oatmeal served with fresh berries and walnuts.
- Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables instead of cookies and candy.
- Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
- Cook with olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee or avocado oil.
- Eat a salad everyday.
- Include 1-2 cups of fresh vegetables at every dinner.
- Eat a salad with a lot of fresh vegetables as your meal.
- Stay away from deep-fried foods; bake, broil, poach or stir-fry instead.
- Choose dark green or brightly colored vegetables as side dishes -- they should fill half your dinner plate.
Foods to Avoid
Loading up on junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar, and highly processed foods may increase the potential for inflammation in your body. Reduce your consumption of trans-fats and saturated fats by cutting back on highly processed foods, red meats, and high-fat processed meats such as bacon and sausage. Cut back on refined white flours in bread and pasta (look for 100-percent whole grains instead). A small amount of sugar is okay, but cut down on most added sugars by decreasing your consumption of sugary sodas, pastries, candy, rich desserts, and pre-sweetened cereals.
Another possible source of gut irritation comes from the nightshade family of plants, which includes, tomatoes, and eggplant. These vegetables contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine, which can trigger pain in some people. While there aren't any formal research findings that back the claim about nightshade plants, some people do believe they get relief from the symptoms of pain and bloating when they eliminate them.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods