Are you suffering from food paralysis?
It has never been more confusing to figure out what to eat and what foods are good for us. In the beginning it was simple. We foraged and hunted for foods and ate what was available. We started to grow foods to broaden our choices. We ate locally and seasonally, as that was the only way open to us. Eventually we started to figure out ways to smoke, preserve and ferment foods to lengthen the time the food would be edible in the seasons that were harder to find things to eat. All of this took much of our time, but it was simple. It was by its nature whole organic food.
Fast forward to the last 50 years.
Never have we had more foods available to us and at no time have we been more confused by food! Time to simplify.
The nutrition world is full of controversy. I studied hundreds of food theories in nutrition school. After being exposed to so many choices and continuing to keep myself abreast of the new theories that crop up, I have come to my own conclusion. I believe food is medicine, but you should eat for pleasure. Keep it simple, keep it fresh, and keep it delicious.
What happens if your head starts spinning with all the dos and don’ts of eating, the constant barrage of should and should not’s around food? What happens when you are so confused around the rules to follow that you either say heck with it, I am just going to eat anything, or even worse, I am not going to eat anything? Instead of suffering with food paralysis, I say go back to the basics.
First of all, find the foods that love you back and figure out the ones that don’t. For this you can do a simple elimination diet.
An elimination diet is what I start each of my clients on. It is not a weight-loss diet; it is simply designed to see if you are food intolerant of the foods that are the most universal allergens. Soy, peanuts, dairy, wheat/gluten grains, and eggs are common culprits. I also suggest at the same time removing coffee, cured meats, and processed oils and all other processed foods. You can do this yourself or work in a group or one-on-one program like I offer (ruyr). The basis is to eliminate these foods from your system a couple of weeks, then add them back in slowly...one at a time. I suggest starting with that food you miss the most. I found I felt so much better off of gluten grains and dairy (I was a huge pasta, bread and cheese lover)! But now, I can have a little Greek yogurt and sourdough bread from a farmers market (I believe the fermentation makes all the difference for me).
Once you have your baseline then you can continue on and refine. Here are some simple ways.
Keep it whole. If you just want to stop eating so many processed foods, make it simple and focus on adding in as many whole, unrefined foods as possible. Fill your cart or basket with fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, wild caught fish, free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. To add additional flavor, have fresh ginger, garlic, onions, spices and tahini, miso paste and tamari sauce.
Hydrate with water. Infuse your water with berries, citrus fruits and herbs to take the place of sodas. Watch fruit juice, as it is loaded with sugar and little to no fiber. If you want juice, make it green with cucumbers, greens, parsley, celery and a little apple and ginger for a nutritious tonic as a pick me up. Add green tea to your diet. You get the pick me up without the jitters. Plus it has many medicinal properties. If it agrees with you, enjoy a coffee minus the sugar and syrupy flavorings.
Keep snacks healthy with cut up veggies, hummus and pesto as dips, simple trail mixes of nuts, seeds and a sprinkle of dried cranberries and dark chocolate. Enjoy a piece of fruit. Make protein balls and keep them in the refrigerator of an anytime snack, including breakfast.
Add healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado and nut butters and dairy butter if you tolerate it. Use these in cooking, salad dressings, smoothies and salads to keep yourself satiated. Life without fats is no fun!
Prepare food once or twice a week so that you are ready to grab for breakfasts, lunches and dinners when time is hectic. Use my cook once, eat twice principal. It is just as easy to make a couple of soups as you are basically chopping and adding ingredients to broth. Make one chunky and puree one to have it “creamy” for variety. A batch of quinoa or brown rice ready in the fridge makes creating a main dish, side dish or lunch salad or even breakfast cereal really easy. Have leafy greens ready to grab for salads along with an easy homemade dressing or two.
Remember, none of the above needs to be complicated. Just start where you are at and then expand from there, as you like. Don’t feel like you need to jump in and change everything all at once. My latest client and I are simply adding in one to three new things maximum for her to work on every two weeks.
Better to slow down, make them good habits and keep your new eating fun and exciting than overwhelming. Don’t forget, small changes can yield really big results.