When a person makes the decision to take control of their health, one of the things they quickly learn is that they probably need to make some significant changes to how they eat. This, more than anything, seems to be the most overwhelming part of a wellness program for some people. I wrote an entire chapter about this in my book 7 Steps to a Naturally Unbridled Life but I will gladly give some simple tips to help you get started.
Spectrum: First of all, it’s important to realize that there is a spectrum that goes from extremely toxic to utterly nourishing – with countless steps in between. Your goal should be to stay out of the toxic side of the spectrum (as much as possible). Here’s an example. Far into the toxic side of the scale are things like “Slim Jims” (and other highly processed meats), as you move along the scale to the nourishing side you get to apples, and even further toward the nourishing end are organic apples. So, if the choice is between a “Slim Jim” and an apple, go with the apple. If the choice is between the apple and the organic apple, the organic apple is the better choice but I would much rather see you eat a conventional apple than a “Slim Jim”. Simply making the best choice you can at any given time is the most anyone can ask.
Critical: The best thing you can do for your health is to drink plenty of clean water (not water with Crystal Light or any other chemical flavoring agent). The rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water each day. So if you weigh 140 lbs. you would drink a minimum of 70 ounces of water each day (a little more than a half gallon). There is more water in your body than anything else, so make sure you flush it out daily (you don’t want to be full of dirty water!). The goal is to have clear urine.
Fresh: The next best thing you can do is to eat at least half of your calories per day in fresh, raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Almost all of the nutrients needed to build a healthy body come in plants and eating them raw preserves the integrity of the nutrients and enzymes they contain. Eating a salad with spinach or mix greens is a great place to start.
Option: I used to promote a vegan diet (zero animal protein) but I moved away from that a couple of years ago. While I believe there are health benefits to a vegan diet, especially as compared to the Standard American Diet, and that most people can benefit from a 30-day vegan “cleanse”, I believe that if we were meant to eat only plants then we would not have a biological requirement for vitamin B12 which is extremely difficult to find in plants.
Protein: When it comes to animal protein, this is my position. As a hunter-gatherer species, humans naturally would not eat meat at every meal and not every day. When the hunters brought meat back to the camp (which they were not able to do every day), the small amount of meat would be shared among the tribe and the portions were small. So, from a natural perspective, animal protein should be consumed in small amounts (more vegetables than anything else) and not at every meal and not every day. When consuming animal products, wild-caught and free-range/grass fed are the best when it comes to nutrient profile and impact on the environment. There is plenty of protein in vegetables so don’t believe people when they tell you that you need meat and milk for protein or your hair will fall out.
Foods to avoid: The simple way to look at things is to choose foods that come from nature and not from a laboratory or factory. Avoiding processed foods that contain chemical additives like artificial sweeteners, dyes, flavors, and preservatives is a good place to start. Soda, especially diet soda, is toxic. Pasta, bread, white rice, and white potatoes have little to no nutritional value, are high on the glycemic index, and promote inflammation in the body. They too are on the toxic end of the scale. In general, the big things to avoid include: Processed foods, sugar, wheat, and pasteurized dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. Raw dairy is a better choice but it is difficult to find. Goat milk products are a better choice (on the spectrum) than cow milk products. It probably goes without saying but avoiding fast food restaurants is a good idea. You would not believe how many chemicals they pump into their skinless chicken breast and even into their buns.
One step at a time: The path to wellness is a process and no one gets there overnight. It takes time to create new habits and to replace toxic food choices with nourishing ones. Anytime you make a food choice, ask yourself “Is this nourishing or is this toxic?” Make the best choices you can, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to feel better and how you start to crave healthy foods more and more. This is the only body you have, put premium fuel into it.
To learn more about holistic nutrition subscribe to my “Eat Like a Horse” 26-Week Holistic Nutrition course which includes my “Victory Pass Recipe Guide & Cookbook” or order (or download) my book 7 Steps to a Naturally Unbridled Life.