The word 'diet' tends to get a bad rap. When you hear 'diet' you may already start thinking about which food groups are to be excluded - which tends to leave a negative or already stressed energy around the whole thing. 'Diet' shouldn't be about starvation, deprivation, shame or guilt ... in fact, it's really just a word for what a person or culture consumes on a more regular basis.
Instead of constantly trying to take foods away from the 'diet', the ultimate focus should actually be on ADDING nutrient-dense foods for optimal nutrition and an overall healthier relationship with food. When you think of 'diet' in this sense, it's less about struggle and more about empowerment!
Choosing optimal nutrition in your 'diet' is ultimately about self-love.
Let's be honest - usually when we tell ourselves we CAN'T have something, naturally we want it even more. Our bodies can get addicted to processed foods due to the chemicals placed there for that very reason - therefore, taking much more than just willpower to eliminate them from the diet.
A Complete Diet Needs:
- quality proteins
- healthy fats
- whole-food carbohydrates high in fiber
- gut-friendly pre and probiotic foods
How do we even begin to get all of those nutrients into our diet?
Well, the easiest AND most effective place to start is by adding in whole foods that are chock full of these nutrients, rather than just taking other foods away. Our bodies recover from being depleted and stop craving those pesky processed sugary foods when the nutrients it REALLY needs are present.
Add These Foods:
Greens are amazing for your health in so many ways. They are alkalizing, where as processed foods, refined sugars, and coffee are acid-producing. Green vegetables help restore acid-alkaline balance from these foods. Leafy greens contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals - including b vitamins, magnesium and calcium!
Make it easy by purchasing pre-washed greens, like baby spinach, arugula or baby kale. Grab a couple handfuls and add to a smoothie, have as a simple side salad with olive oil and vinegar, top a sandwich, or toss in a sauté pan for a couple minutes with garlic and lemon juice and add to dinner.
Seeds can easily be topped on any meal - salads, oatmeal, pastas, stir fries, etc. They can be blended in a smoothie or ground to create a healthy crunchy coating on meats and seafood. Flax, chia and hemp seeds are high in plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular, brain, and skin health.
Seeds like flax, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower help balance women's hormones. Seeds are high in minerals, including immune-boosting zinc and relaxing magnesium. All seeds are fiber-rich, promoting natural detoxification and proper bowel movements.
These fermented superfoods make the list because of their probiotic content. Probiotic foods, like kimchee and sauerkraut, help balance the microbiome, the balance of good bacteria in the gut. This balance of bacteria is crucial for overall health, including digestive health, mood, and immune system.
Kimchee and sauerkraut can easily be a side to any savory meal. Try to eat a little bit of something fermented every day, start with a small serving.
Bone Broth or Bone Broth Powder
Our bodies need protein at every single meal. Protein is needed for every reaction in the body. It can be hard to get protein at breakfast in the American diet. That’s when protein powders come in handy. Add protein powder to unsweetened nut milk in a shaker cup as a quick side to a meal, or add protein powder to smoothies, oatmeal, or chia seed pudding.
Antioxidants galore! Add organic berries to all your favorite breakfasts- smoothies, oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, or toast. Top on salads and have as a healthy dessert.
Sea vegetables like kelp, kombu, nori, wakame are all full of trace minerals and antioxidants. Kelp granules can be used like salt. Wakame flakes can be added to salads and other foods. Kombu can be added to soups at the start of cooking- it even helps beans become more digestible!
A plant-based source of selenium, a mineral especially important for thyroid health. Just 3 nuts a day can be enough to get your daily source of selenium. Nuts are full of fiber, healthy fats, and some protein.
Full of healthy fats and fiber, supporting blood sugar balance. Top avocados on sandwiches, salads, eggs. Avocados can even be used to make a healthy chocolate pudding! Avocados are packed with magnesium and vitamin B6 making it an optimal healthy cycle food.
Sprouts, like alfalfa, broccoli, mung bean, are commonly found in produce section of grocery stores. You can also sprout at a home. Legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains can be sprouted by soaking them in water and routinely rinsing and draining them. Sprouting increases the nutritional value of food (more vitamins, minerals, and protein) and makes foods easier to digest.
Sprouts can easily be topped to sandwiches and served on the side of meals. Eat them raw for maximum nutrition.
Hydration is key to energy, detoxification, mood, digestive health, and so much more! Most people are not getting enough water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Filter your water by reverse osmosis or a Zero Water pitcher as a budget-friendly alternative. Check out the EWG website for optimal water filter information.
At the end of the day, life is too short to stress over your 'diet'. Changing the mindset to ADDING optimal nutrition in is a total game changer for overall health and sustainability.