Nutrition is a broad and continually evolving topic, and with all the media attention paid to fad diets and quick weight-loss schemes, and with all the food and health blogs out there, it can feel very overwhelming to sift through all the information to determine what works, what doesn’t, what’s real, what’s bogus.
Now you must know first-hand already that you are unique and what works wonders for your best friend might not work very well for you. The truth is, there is no one single right way to eat, there is no diet that is healthy for everyone. However, those diets shown to promote health and longevity as well as successful weight loss and weight maintenance emphasize the importance of whole, REAL foods. Whole foods are nutrient dense, they are as close to their natural state as possible, unprocessed and unrefined, with no added ingredients and not altered from their original form so that their essential nutrients remain intact. Whole foods are the foods our bodies already know how to digest and assimilate.
The first thing you can do to optimize your nutrition is to incorporate more whole foods into your diet—and that’s what we encourage here at Titan as well as on The Plan. No gimmicks, no meal replacements, powders, and pills, no foods pretending to be something they’re not (what the heck is turkey bacon anyway?). Your healthful diet should include minimally processed, seasonally fresh and local plant foods, including vegetables and fruit, and if you tolerate them, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains. If you’re a meat eater, then pasture-raised, organic meat and dairy products and fresh, wild-caught fish and seafood should be used to supplement your plant-based diet.
The first step to making realistic and long-term changes to your diet is figuring out where you might be falling short. A great self-assessment tool I like to use, especially with some of our students, is a Food Frequency questionnaire.
Each time you eat a food on this list, place a check mark in the box of the day. Of course there are other tools I like to use that I will elaborate on in a separate post, but the Food Frequency Questionnaire is a really simple way to see what an average week looks like for you. This way you can see where you can make small improvements here and there and maybe set a new, small goal each week.
When thinking about making changes, look at the big picture –it shouldn’t be about finding another diet or short-term solution, it’s not about doing a complete overhaul of your current routine so that you feel deprived and isolated and give up a week later. There’s no single diet that works for everyone but incorporating more whole foods into your daily routine is a good place to start. You are unique and it will take some time and experimentation to figure out what works for you but keep at it and you will reap the lifelong benefits that can be obtained from eating more whole, REAL foods!