A healthy diet is simple, really simple. Back in the day, our grandmothers made our food from scratch. Today it’s made by manufactures that rely on additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, fat, salt, too much sugar, and “natural” made-in-a-lab flavor. True health requires that we keep it simple and avoid overly processed food with ingredients we can’t pronounce.
FOOD TO AVOID
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Read food labels carefully because sugar and sugar substitutes show up in strange places like soup, deli meat, chicken stock, salad dressing and in many of those “healthy” protein bars. Start by cutting it out of places it doesn’t belong and choose natural sweeteners like raw honey and dates instead of sugar.
Milk and dairy can cause a host of unpleasant digestive issues. If you’re lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive, limit dairy or avoid it completely. Almond milk is a great non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk. If you can tolerate dairy, make sure the milk you buy is organic and hormone and antibiotic free.
Wheat (try ancestral grains)
If you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, IBS, or digestive issues, avoid wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).
U.S. wheat has been hybridized and it isn’t quite as nutritious as the wheat our grandmothers ate. If you want something healthier, try organic ancestral or heirloom grains like farro, a collection of 3 grains (einkorn, spelt and emmer), Kamut, or Turkey Red wheat.
Beans and legumes
If you have serious digestive issues such as IBS, bloating, gas, or any kind of digestive pain, you may want to limit or avoid beans and legumes. Tip: if you soak beans overnight, they are a little easier to digest.
Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 contain benzidene, a likely human and animal carcinogen. There is evidence linking food dyes to behavioral problems including hyperactivity in some children. Foods that contain artificial colors must contain warning labels in Europe, but not here. Be sure to read labels if you want to avoid them.
Ditch plastic – BPA (Bisphenol-A) and BPA-free
Why is plastic part of a section on diet? Most of our food and water is packaged in plastic and research shows that the harmful, estrogen like chemicals found in plastic can leech out of the container and into our food and water, especially when really hot or cold. Further research from the University of Texas at Arlington found that BPA “could well contribute to [breast cancer] tumor growth.” BPA free (or BPS) isn’t much better. It may harm brain function and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children. If you have to use plastic, do not expose it to hot or cold temperatures. Use glass food storage containers and drink water in glass bottles. Avoid canned food, even if it says BPA-free on the label (it may be just as harmful as BPA).
Junk food and overly processed food
Avoid eating fast-food and prepared or frozen food that contains too many artificial ingredients.
Regular table sale – go pink
Himalayan pink salt is minimally processed, doesn’t contain additives and anticaking agents and has more trace minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron than regular salt. Himalayan salt has a little less sodium than table salt too. Celtic salt is another good option.
GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) because they are typically sprayed with harmful pesticides/herbicides.
Soy or corn that isn’t organic (both are in a lot of processed and prepared food) – because it’s probably a GMO crop that’s been heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides or herbicides.
Anything in plastic
Cans lined with BPA, BPA-free is just as harmful (see link below)
Fruit and veggies that aren’t organic (or aren’t on the EWG’s list of “Clean 15”)
This list may seem extreme, but the average American grocery store is full of food that contains ingredients we can’t pronounce, additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, food with cancer causing pesticide residue, too much sugar, salt and fat. How extreme is that?
FOOD TO EAT
USDA certified organic, Biodynamic or Regenerative
When you commit to buying from local farmers that use USDA certified organic, biodynamic or regenerative farming practices, you reduce the amount of toxic chemicals sprayed on our food and the environment (this has impacts on butterflies, birds and bees). You support healthy soil, the humane treatment of animals, the health of the people who pick our food, the local economy, and the reduction of chemicals in our water supply. When you buy organic, biodynamic or regenerative food, you say no to GMO crops and the toxic chemicals that are bundled with them (Monsanto’s Roundup-ready crops are genetically modified to withstand Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, for example). Buying organic is about so much more than pesticides. It’s about supporting a healthy world. If you do one thing for your health and the health of the environment, buy USDA certified organic from small, local farmers.
Wild-caught or sustainably farmed small fish (large fish have high levels of mercury) and seafood (see Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Recommendations)
Organic chicken or turkey (if you eat meat)
Organic raw honey or dates as sweeteners
Organic herbs and spices
Bottled or filtered water in glass bottles, never plastic (it’s bad for our environment and your health)
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Himalayan Pink Salt
Organic herbal teas
Ancestral or heirloom grains (if you eat grains)
If you want a diet to follow, The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent and well-researched diet for good overall health.
This does not substitute for medical advice. If you have health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.