There is no single diet that works for everyone, but with a set of fairly simple guidelines, you’ll be able to make some positive and potentially life-changing steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
By guidelines I don’t want you to think “Here we go again – another diet guru, giving me restricted rules about good and bad foods”. I don’t preach “good” and “bad” – and you will not find yourself in “food hell” when working with me. Food, like with everything else in life, is about bio-individuality, finding out what works for you.
I want you to look at my basic recommendations as a set of suggestions made by a true food lover. Feel free to pick and choose whatever helps you to accomplish your goals.
Before I dish out any nutritional advice, I’d like to tell you about Primary Food and its importance to your life and wellbeing. What most of us now consider “nutrition” – what we eat and drink throughout the day – is really just a secondary source of energy.
Primary foods feed us, but they don't come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular and enjoyable physical activity, and honest and open relationships feed our souls and satisfy our hunger for living. These elements are the primary foods of life. The more primary foods we use to nurture ourselves, the less we depend upon secondary foods. The opposite is also true: the more we fill ourselves with secondary foods, the less we are able to receive the primary foods of life.
Every spiritual tradition encourages people to fast during the year so that individuals have time to reduce secondary foods, thus allowing for a greater awareness of primary food.
Think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vivid. You were floating on air, gazing into your lover’s eyes. Your lover's touch and your shared feelings of exhilaration were enough to sustain you. You forgot about food and were high on life.
Remember a time when you were deeply involved in an exciting project. You believed in what you were doing and felt confident and stimulated. Time seemed to stop. The outside world faded away. You didn't feel the need to eat. Someone had to come by and remind you.
Imagine children playing outside with friends. At dinnertime the mother reminds the children, "Time to come in and eat", and they respond, "No mommy, I'm not hungry yet.” At the dinner table, the mother feels that her role is to enforce the rules of good nutrition and instructs the children to eat their food. Eventually, the children force down a minimally acceptable amount of food and rush out again to play. At the end of the day, the kids return, exhausted, and go to sleep without thinking about food at all. As children, we all lived on primary food. The same as when we are deeply in love, or working passionately on a project. The fun, excitement and love of daily life has the power to feed our souls, so that food becomes secondary.
Now think of a time when you were depressed, or your self-esteem was low; you were starving for primary food. No amount of secondary food would do. You ate as much as you wanted, but you never felt satisfied. Even in good times when we come home at night, we often look into the refrigerator for something to eat, when all we really want is a hug or someone to talk to.
Primary foods feed us, but they don't come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular and enjoyable physical activity and honest and open relationships that feed your soul and your hunger for living all constitute primary food.
Taking the time to explore your primary foods is an essential part of your journey toward optimal health. These basic food rules can help you to do so:
• Always choose the best quality foods. Purchasing USDA Certified Organic foods and from local farmers is preferable, but not necessary at all times. We never want to make food complicated, so simply strive to eliminate chemicals and toxins that could be detrimental to our health.
• Pre-packaged foods should never contain more than 4-5 ingredients.
• Avoid foods that boast claims like “Good for your heart” or “Parent-approved.” For example, Oreo cookies with added Vitamin D have the same amount of carbohydrates as the ones without Vitamin D; it’s not a healthy product just because the company added a nutrient!
• Never eat anything that contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
• At least 5-6 servings/day of fruits and vegetables!
• Apples and oranges are a better choice. Berries contain a lot of nutrients but are high in carbohydrates, and you should avoid fruits high in fat and carbohydrates for at least 4 weeks.
• Eat two large green salads per day that primarily consist of dark leafy greens (at least two cups per meal). • Avoid iceberg lettuce because it doesn’t contain the mineral levels that darker leafier types do. You can also steam or fry your greens/vegetables and make a whole meal or add poultry, meat and fish for more protein.
You can eat UNLIMITED amounts of the following vegetables:
• Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Jicama (add to salads or eat raw as a snack)
• Lettuce: Dark leafy greens preferable
• Onion: Raw only — limit to 3 – 4 rings or chopped equivalent.
• All fresh herbs – try to always keep 1-2 types of fresh herbs like thyme, basil and mint in your fridge. Fresh herbs are VERY healthy and will make your salad more exciting and tasty! Use in salads and smoothies or as topping on dinner.
• Peppers: All types – green, yellow, red, and hot.
You can eat LIMITED amounts of the following vegetables:
Cooked: Up to 1 cup total of any combination per meal OR
Raw: Up to 2 cups total of any combination per meal OR
Cooked and Raw: Up to 1.5 cups
• Asparagus (8 spears)
• Bean sprouts
• Beans, Green: Wax or Italian
• Brussels sprouts
• Greens: collard, turnip, mustard, beet, kale, Swiss chard, etc.,
• Pea Pods
• Summer squash, yellow crookneck, zucchini
• Water chestnuts
• Tomatoes; if using canned, go for low carbohydrates.
Portion Size Is Essential!
I don’t obsess over measuring foods and I don’t want you to obsess over measuring “cups” of foods either, but I do want you to think about portion size. How much food do you put on a plate? Are you really hungry for a second portion? A glass of water before a meal helps keeps portions sizes down and it is another way of making sure you drink around 8, eight-ounce glasses of water a day!
Always choose whole grains in everything from the bread on your sandwich to your dish of pasta. Whole grains contain every part of the grain kernel (bran, germ and endosperm), as well as more nutrients and fiber than refined grains.
• Aim for at least 3gr of fiber/100gr – best if 5gr/100gr or higher.
• Cook with whole rice (brown rice), quinoa, buckwheat etc. – mix with vegetables and add fish, poultry and meat as desired!
Season to Taste
A simple meal can taste heavenly when seasoned with your favorite spice! Use oils, vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and spices. Also try in light moderation:
• Grated Cheese
• Chopped Hardboiled Egg
• Crumbled Bacon (Not “fake”)
• Apple Cider Vinegar (a perfect dressing mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper)
Watch your intake of sodium. We don’t need more than around 200mg sodium per day. Recommended intake is no more than 2500mg/1 teaspoon (most people eat 6000mg/day). To give you an idea: One oat bran bagel (4 inch/10 cm) contains 451mg sodium! Use sea salt instead of table salt – sea salt contains more than 80 nutrients. Table salt is stripped for nutrients and may contain additives.
Use a “Lazy Susan” to make individual choice of seasoning easier.
Eating mostly plant foods is best, but if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, this is where to find good sources of protein:
• Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Quail, Cornish Hen, Shrimp, Lobster, Oysters, Clams, Mussels
• Eggs: Scrambled, Over-easy, Hard-boiled, Poached and Deviled
• Fish: All kinds, 2-3servings weekly
Recommended: deep sea, cold water fish, e.g., salmon or tuna. Avoid farmed fish.
• A piece of meat like Beef, Lamb, Pork, Bacon* and Sausage* (portion should never be larger than the size of the palm of the person eating the meat.
*Bacon and sausage (look for brands without nitrates or nitrites and no sugar)
• Processed luncheon meats such as hot dogs or bologna are NOT recommended.
• Cheese: All kinds — up to 2 ounces per meal: Two (2) ounces is approximately the size of 2 packs of gum (5-stick packs).
• Cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream — up to 1 ounce per meal. One (1) ounce is approximately the amount in an ice cream scoop or 1 pack of gum (5-stick pack).
• Processed cheese food products of any kind are NOT recommended (Examples: cheese in a box, can or jar, or wrapped American cheese slices). Again I don’t want you to measure, but rather to use this as a guide to portion sizes.
Eat and Enjoy High Quality Fats
You MUST eat high quality fats every day to protect your heart and for enjoyment. Have an oil-based dressing on your salad, a little olive oil or butter on your broccoli. These dietary luxuries make all the difference in eating satisfaction and helping you stick to your eating plan.
You may have moderate amounts of high-quality fats. Moderate means the amounts found in lean meats, fish, and poultry. You may use small amounts of added fats from the list below to add flavor and enjoyment to your food. Remember, fat is a concentrated source of calories and a little goes a long way.
Use MODERATE amounts as needed for taste and texture.
• Olive Oil OK for cooking (Extra Virgin preferred)
• Canola Oil OK for cooking
• Coconut Oil OK for cooking
• Flaxseed Oil DO NOT heat (Good source of essential fatty acids)
• Safflower Oil DO NOT heat
• Almond Oil DO NOT heat
• Butter: Use only small amounts. (DO NOT use margarine unless trans-fat free)
• Mayonnaise: ONLY use small amounts.
• Cream: YES, real cream. Use organic brands that are hormone and pesticide free
• Half and Half: Limited and be careful. Contains carbohydrates!
• Salad Dressings: Choose low or no carbs. Have one serving (usually 2 tablespoons)
• Sauces: Choose low or no carbohydrates
Nuts and seeds
• All seeds like sesame, pumpkin, sesame, chia etc.
• Use nuts in moderation – avoid peanuts. Almonds and walnuts are pure brain-and super food!
• Use as a salad garnish or one small handful as a snack.
Keep It Fluid
Shoot for half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, try to drink 100 ounces. Salty food makes you bloated because your tissues hold the fluid. Believe it or not, the best way to eliminate the bloated feeling and appearance is to drink more water.
Drinking plenty of water helps you lose weight because it enhances cellular function, which increases your fat burning efficiency. Water feeds your body and tissue with nutrients. Remember that 60% of your body is made of water – we need to keep up that level by drinking water during the day!
Enjoy the following fluids:
• Natural spring water or flavored waters with zero carbohydrates.
• Club soda with a twist of lemon or lime
• Herb teas
• Coffee or black tea (limit to 1-2 cups (not mugs) a day. Green and white teas are preferable and you can also drink more cups of these and earn the health benefits from these teas.
Diet sodas: Only if you must. Just don’t make it a habit.
Alcoholic Beverages: If you must enjoy alcohol, red wine is the alcohol that has most health benefits.
Sweeteners: Try natural no-carb sweeteners such as Stevia. Use small amounts of sucralose products if necessary. Avoid aspartame, Splenda, NutraSweet and all other artificial sweeteners.
Veggie sticks, fruits, rice cakes and rice crackers, and almond all make great snacks. The list of snacks is endless and only your imagination sets the limit. Always try to have healthy snacks on hand so you can grab them before cravings take over. As my client I will provide you with a list of great snacks to explore. I promise, there will be plenty of suggestions to match your taste buds!
So often we eat mindlessly. We stuff food into our mouths while working on the computer, watching TV, or when we’re on the run. The pleasure of eating lies in slowing down and fully experiencing all of the elements of food. Take some time to explore your food – sight, smell, taste, texture and touch. Remember to breath between the bites and chew!
It is NOT a myth that it is good for our digestion to chew our food 30-50 times. Put down knife and fork between the bites and take it slow.
Work It Out
Exercise has more effects than just burning off calories. The human body is meant to exercise, and it’s only in the last few decades that the US population has become so sedentary. When a human body is well exercised, everything works better. Metabolism is faster, the tissues are better oxygenated, and the development of lean muscle mass with resistance training allows you to burn more calories, even at rest.
Recent studies have shown that the benefits of exercise show up at much lower levels than was thought previously. In fact, a good walk can accomplish almost as much as some of the more strenuous activities like running or gym workouts, at least when it comes to weight loss. So that’s the best place to begin. Just walk: around the parking lot, in your neighborhood, on the beach, up a hill, in the mall if the weather’s bad.
Exercise is a great investment in your future health. It affects not only your weight, but your heart, mood and overall health. There is no excuse NOT to do something and a little is better than nothing!
You should be moving at a pace that will allow you to carry on a conversation, but a slightly breathless one. It’s that simple! When you’re ready to kick it up a notch, start doing some weight training. This not only helps build that energy and fat-burning lean muscle mass, but the microscopic tissue damage that results from a harder workout triggers the body to release human growth hormone (HgH) to begin the repair – and increased HgH levels are known to improve lean muscle mass, burn fat, and increase your weight loss potential.
This may sound like a lot of work but it is really just about defining your needs and goals for your health. Drinking two more glasses of water every day, walking for 15 extra minutes or giving your partner a hug can make a world of a difference. Make a list of goals and make it happen in a simple and enjoyable way – you are investing in your health, your life – and remember you are worth it!
Congratulations on taking the first step to optimal health.
light popcorn or plain popcorn: use coconut oil to pop in a covered pan
one or two hard pretzels, the large Bavarian variety
carrots, particularly the super-sweet, organic baby carrots
crunchy crudités of veggies and dip (hummus, tabouli, vinaigrette, favorite dressing)
celery and peanut butter (use non-hydrogenated peanut butter)
hummus with whole grain toast, baby carrots, rice crackers,
fresh, whole fruit
organic yogurt and ripe fruit
apples and almond butter
sprouted date bread with jam
frozen yogurt: freeze yogurt and make your own!
use leftover grains to make sweet porridge: drizzle maple syrup and sprinkle cinnamon, add soymilk and bananas, heat with fruit juice, etc.
smoothies: mix whatever you have in the kitchen – fruit, ice, soymilk, yogurt, carob powder, etc.
fruit “ice cream”: peel a banana, freeze, blend in a food processor with nuts, berries or raisins and serve; can be put through the screen of a juicer for a creamier consistency.
freshly squeezed fruit juices: Make your own and try different combos.
sweet vegetables: yams, sweet potatoes, squashes (acorn, butternut, kabocha) cut into chunks or fries; sprinkle with cinnamon and bake.
dates stuffed with almond butter or other nut butter
organic dark chocolate chips or carob chips
pickles and pickled vegetables, such as carrot, daikon, beets and lotus root
oysters and sardines
steamed vegetables with tamari/shoyu or umeboshi vinegar
tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole: try whole grain chips such as “Garden of Eatin” brand and freshly made salsa or guacamole.
sauerkraut: it will also knock your sweet craving right out!
fresh lime or lemon juice as seasonings or in beverage
small amount of organic cheese
dips and spreads, like hummus and baba ghanoush
puddings made with silken tofu, avocado or mashed banana
mashed sweet potatoes
BMI (Mody Mass Index) is a tool to determine if you're at a healthy weight.
Enter your information and calculate your BMI here.
Waist circumference (distance around the waist) is a common measure used to check for fat held around the stomach. Having extra body fat around the stomach—40 in. (102 cm) for men and more than 35 in. (88 cm) for women, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
How to measure: Place a tape measure around your body at the top of your hipbone.
This is usually at the level of your belly button.
Waist Hip Ratio
Your waist to hip ratio (WHR) estimates the fat distribution in your body. It's used to measure obesity and is an indicator or measure of the health of a person, and risk of development of serious health conditions.
Women with waist–hip ratios of more than 0.8, and men with more than 1.0, are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution, according to The National Institute of diabetes, kidney- and digestive diseases.
How To Measure Your Waist Hip Ratio
>Measure the circumference of your waist and hips in centimetres. Your waist circumference is measured at the narrowest point between your ribs and hips after exhaling.
>Your hip circumference is measured at the point where the buttocks are most extended when viewed from the side.
Example: Waist = 88 cm Hips = 102 cm - Waist Hip Ration = 0.86 (waist measurement divided with hips measurement).
Waist and hip measurements are appropriate for adults only and recommended ratios differ, as you can see, based on age and gender.
Of these three measurements, only the waist–hip ratio takes account of the differences in body structure. Hence, it is possible for two women to have vastly different body mass indices but the same waist–hip ratio, or to have the same body mass index but vastly different waist–hip ratios.
The ORAC Guide
What is the ORAC value?
The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) unit, ORAC value, or "ORAC score" is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements; developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.
It is believed that foods higher on the ORAC scale will more effectively neutralize free radicals. According to the free-radical theory of aging, this will slow the oxidative processes and free radical damage that can contribute to age-related degeneration and disease.
Rich in antioxidants usually means at least an ORAC rating of 1000 per 100 g.
Try this for 30 days: An initial phase of 4-day cleanse where you consume 50,000 ORAC points per day. This will increase the antioxidant power of your blood. For the remaining 26 days, the goal is to consume 30,000 ORAC points per day.