Frankly, you can reach your recommended macro distribution—high protein, low fat, and moderate carbs—eating protein shakes, refined low-fat carbs, and a fiber supplement. Is that healthy? Workable? Sustainable? Delicious? Not really any of those.
Further, several constituents in foods—anthocyanins, pectins, oligosaccharides, lycopene, to only name a few—have no recommended dietary allowances (RDAs), are not on a food label, and not part of most fitness apps. They are, however, likely important for health.
So, how do you figure out what to eat?
- Eat food…real food whenever possible.
- Eat a wide variety of colors of plant foods every day. Orange/yellow foods? The color comes from carotinoids, especially beta-carotene. Red, dark blue or purple foods? That is lycopene, Vitamin A, and anthocyanins. White foods? Even white foods, like cauliflower and beans have plenty of nutrition. Don’t forget one of the most important groups…dark green!
- Lean protein foods are best. Getting 7 ounces of fish per week (about the size of two smart phones) is important because of the omega-3 fatty acids.
- Beware of packages. Labels ‘healthy’, ‘natural’ or ‘paleo-friendly’, among other phrases, is meaningless. There is little regulation of the front of a food package. The food label is regulated, but still complicated if unpronounceable things are added.
- Eat when hungry. Stop before you are full.
- Enjoy a splurge, every so often, and don’t beat yourself up. Negative self-talk about food rarely leads to better food choices.
And I will close with my mantra….don’t pay for it twice! You already paid for the food, don’t pay for it a second time with your health.
Speaking of health, I will be on vacation, relaxing, and enjoying some sights. I will not publish a nutrition blog June 30 or July 7, but I will be back with a blog on July 14. Have a safe and happy July 4!
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN
Interested in adding more colorful plant foods to your intake? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.