What should I eat to be healthy? Sounds like a simple question, but there seems to be a lot of confusion, and it's getting worse.
There is just too much information available (thanks Dr. Google). The only people who think they are not confused about nutrition are those who have not read enough about it. And if you do spend the bulk of your spare time searching for nutritional nirvana (which itself can be the problem), unless you are a dietitian, Sports Scientist or super on-the-ball personal trainer, it’s near impossible to interpret all the information, workout what’s fact and how it all fits together.
From the information that I’ve devoured it would seem there are some simple rules to follow for people who just want to be healthy, and then a little fine-tuning if you’re chasing an athletic or aesthetic goal.
1. Base your diet on real food
2. Avoid gluten
Gluten is found in wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, barley and possibly oat (from contamination). It seems that gluten can be a problem and that most people do better when removing it from their diet. Not convinced? Try eliminating gluten for 30 days, and then reintroduce it to see how you feel.
3. Carbohydrates are not the enemy
Carbs are in lots of food, not just pasta, bread and rice. Everyone has a different requirement depending on activity level and metabolic state. If you’re super active, more carbohydrates could be what your body needs.
4. Calories still count
Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean you can eat an unlimited amount of it. Your mouth should not be used like a vacuum cleaner (thanks Robb Wolf).
5. Don’t obsess about your diet
That’s not to say that strictness and adherence is wrong, but if your diet is stopping you from enjoying your life, perhaps there’s something greater for you to evaluate.
Do the rules change from time to time? Sure they do. We have to accept that we are doing the best we can with the information we have today.
If you want to dig deeper, we could go into meal frequency, macronutrient timing and nutrient partitioning, but I think we’ll save that for another post.
See you in the gym