Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Really, it doesn’t. Over the past several decades, we (society) have done a really good job of over-complicating something so simple. If you’re confused about what “healthy” even is, I don’t blame you. And, you’re certainly not alone. There are endless amounts of conflicting information available: Is the Keto diet the answer to all my problems? Or maybe Veganism is my best bet? But, what about Whole 30 that my friends are raving about? Does organic really matter?
Health seems complicated. But, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s actually quite simple. There are 4 dietary upgrades that you can make today so that you can experience all the benefits and enjoyment food has to offer. These concepts will allow you to effortless enjoy nutritious, flavorful foods and reap the health benefits of it. Because at the base of health are the foods we eat. Told ya: simple.
Keep these four dietary upgrades in mind to improve your mental and physical health, enjoy delicious foods, and feel nourished like never before:
Eating seasonally is important for many reasons. When we according to the seasons, we are almost guaranteed the ripest, juiciest foods. More importantly, foods in their ripest state contain the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. More often than not, these foods are also the sweetest and tastiest. Win-win!
Seasonal foods will vary in different parts of the world, country, or even state. So, keep reading to learn about the current seasonal foods in your area!
Locally-sourced foods are grown and produced within close proximity to where they are sold. Less transit time = fresher foods. In fact, eating locally goes hand-in-hand with eating seasonally. Why? Because your local farms will most likely only grow the foods that are appropriate for the current season. Eating locally-sourced foods is also a great way to support local farms and small businesses. And as stated above, these foods are often the most enjoyable- ripe, juicy, and tasty!
Local and seasonal foods will vary from location to location. Visit The Seasonal Food Guide to learn about local, seasonal foods in your area.
Eat the rainbow! No, not the skittles rainbow, silly. The God-given rainbow, also known as: fruits and vegetables. Basically, the greater variety of color on your plate, the better. Each color provides different nutrients that our bodies need to live and thrive. These nutrient-dense colors are called phytonutrients:
Orange and Yellow- Beta Carotene, Vitamin C (Recipe: Parsley & Garlic Carrot Fries)
Green- Beta Carotene, Iron (Recipe: Paleo-is Packed Winter Salad)
Purple- Anthocyanin, Flavonoids, Resveratrol (Recipe: Red Cherry Dark Chocolate Crumble)
Red- Lycopene, Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Flavonoids, Resveratrol (Recipe: Paleo Sweet Potato Meatloaf)
White- Glucosinolates, Polyphenols, Sulfur (Recipe: 20-Minute Paleo Garlic Mashed Potatoes)
I recently read that you should aim for 40 different kinds of foods per week. This goal will help you keep variety in your diet, and therefore, receive the different nutrients you need. I try to keep this rule in mind as I plan my weekly menu and compile my grocery list!
Last, but not least, food quality. Although last on the list, this may just be the most important food upgrade. Food quality > quantity. Always. It may just surprise how much quality really does matter. Poor quality foods usually lack essential nutrients, and sometimes, they even contain harmful additives, like: antibiotics, pesticides, GMO’s, and more!
What are considered to be poor quality foods?
- Processed or packages foods
- Conventional meat and dairy
- Conventional produce
- Fried foods
- Trans fats and hydrogenated oils
- Artificial sweeteners
Here’s what you need to know to increase the quality of your food:
Meat & Fish- Always opt for grass fed and finished beef, pasture-raised pork/poultry, and wild caught seafood.
Eggs- Pasture-raised eggs are best, but free-range eggs are better than conventional. Avoid conventional eggs as often as you can because they lack the vitamins and nutrients, like healthy omega-3’s, that pasture-raised eggs provide.
Produce- Look for organic fruits and vegetables when possible. If not available or when all else fails, resort to the Dirty Dozen List for the 12 fruits and veggies that contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue after washing. These foods should always be bought organic! You can also refer to the Clean Fifteen List for the produce with the least amounts of pesticide residue.
In order to best comply with these dietary upgrades, I highly recommend buying groceries from your local farmer’s market. It’s a fail-proof way to access the highest quality, colorful, local, and seasonal foods around. This is especially true for produce, meat, and eggs. Bonus: as you get to know your local farmers, you will gain a better understanding of the importance of local, seasonal, colorful, and quality foods!