"What should I eat?" seems like a simple question, but in reality it is quite complex. On the one hand, we are living in an age of abundance. Never in human history has the quantity, quality, and variety of food that we now enjoy been available to so many people. On the other hand, diet-related disorders like Obesity, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease are reaching epidemic proportions. To make matters worse, the conventional wisdom of our top health authorities seems to be in flux on many of the key questions related to diet.
A big part of the problem comes from the food industry whose profit motive has had a profoundly negative impact on our health, the state of scientific research, and government policy for many decades now. To make matters worse, the diet industry continues to sell miracle weight loss plans that make mutually exclusive claims and all purport to be based on the best science available. Low Fat, No-Carb, Slow Carb, Paleo, the list goes on and on. But even if you cut through the web of profit-driven propaganda, what we are learning about nutrition is that it is far more complicated than we ever imagined.
One area of research that is both very important and poorly understood is the so-called “Microbiome”. Did you know that there are literally trillions of microscopic organisms that live in and around your body? Before you panic, understand that most of these organisms are actually good for you. These “good” micro-organisms have evolved alongside us in symbiosis and are in fact essential to the normal functioning of our bodies and digestion. But how exactly this system works, what role it plays in health and disease, and how the needs of individual Microbiomes differ from one another are all very new areas of research. We simply don’t have the answers yet.
With all of those important caveats out of the way, there are some steps you can take to improve the quality of your diet. These are our tips for healthier eating:
1) Learn to cook.
Yes, it’s easier to eat out, but if you care about your health, cook most of your meals at home and only dine out once or twice a week. You’ll have the added benefit of saving some money.
2) Eliminate sodas(including diet sodas!) and juices from your diet.
Switch over to good old-fashioned water and for some variety brew a nice pot of green tea.
3) Make vegetables the centerpiece.
If most of your calories are coming from veggies, you will be well on your way to good nutrition.
4) Reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet.
A processed snack here and there is not the end of the world, but you should try to keep your calories from processed foods at under 10% of your total diet.
5) Replace red meat with leaner substitutes and reduce your intake of dairy
If you follow 3, you shouldn’t be having much of this to begin with, but if you must, make the meat lean and try to keep dairy at under 5% of your total calories consumed.