Updated: May 11, 2021
“We are what we eat, think and do.
What we eat, how we eat and why influences the direction of our health.
We always have a choice.” Dr. Kimberly Jones
Making the best food choices within our budget and from the foods that are available to us is possible for everyone.
This eating plan sets the ideal one for eating, but the best path for you is a healthy one that you can follow. The most important part involves implementing a specific plan and establishing accountability. It’s hard to break habits that date back years or a lifetime. When the challenges come up, that plan will help keep you from falling back into old habits and encourage you to make better – or the best – choices to help you achieve what you want in your live. Whether it’s weight loss, long-term health, aging well or feeling better, you can move toward those goals with a healthy eating plan.
Dr. Jones’ Tips for Healthy Eating
Whenever possible, buy organic and foods harvested in season and sold from local farmers.
When organic choices are not an option, go by the Dirty/Clean Dozen lists of foods. These two lists suggest which non-organic foods are safer and which less preferable.
Portion size is especially important, so choose wisely. Most Americans could cut their portions in half. The CDC states that obesity affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States. The prevalence of obesity was at 42.4% in 2017-2018 in the United States, including 13.7 million children and adolescents. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, which are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. (CDC National Center for Health Statistics, NCHS).
Eating Plan Recommendations
I suggest following a keto diet that includes lean organic beef, free-range organic chicken, wild-caught cold-water (non-farmed) fish, lentils, quinoa, beans and colorful vegetables and fruit. It is best to cook with ghee, coconut oil, grass-fed organic butter and Himalayan sea salt using as many organic fresh spices and herbs as possible. Try alternating the meat choices above with dishes made with quinoa, lentils or various beans.
What to Avoid
Important guidelines include cutting out processed foods of all kinds, including sugar and flour. Avoid GMO (genetically modified) foods. For those who are gluten intolerant or sensitive, avoid all grains.
What to Substitute
Alternatives, such as quinoa, lentils and beans, are rich in protein. Quinoa, a seed from the amaranth family, is high in protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals. Lentils are high in iron and have the highest levels of protein of any vegetable next to soybean. One cup of lentils provides 18 g of protein. One cup of quinoa contains 8 g of protein. However, quinoa contains adequate amounts of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) that your body needs, while lentils do not.
How We Eat
Being mindful and staying relaxed while eating is important for our digestion. Meals are not the time for eating on the run, problem solving, arguing with family members, complaining or any other stress-inducing/negative behaviors. These put our digestive system in a state of agitation.
Here’s why. Digestion is part of our autonomic nervous system, which has two parts. The first, the sympathetic nervous system, operates when our body is under stress. It initiates fight-or-flight responses and puts our focus on survival. The second, the parasympathetic nervous system, facilitates rest and digestion. Because the body’s priority will always be survival, when we are under stress, all our energy, blood flow, etc. will be diverted to the muscles to either run or fight. Healing and digestion are therefore secondary, and in stressful situations, less essential. Playing dinner music, setting a nice table, being grateful, eating slowly, enjoying the food and company in a calm environment will not only promote healthy digestion but will also bring a family together.
Along with relaxing, chewing our food well is important. The first part of digestion, chewing breaks food into smaller pieces and stimulates the release of amylase (an enzyme which breaks starches into sugars) and lipase (the enzyme that breaks down fats) into our saliva. Remembering to eat slowly and chew well is essential for the next stages of digestion.
When We Eat
Eating three meals a day helps limit snacking and keeps our blood sugar at a healthy level. But being consistent requires planning and intention. When we are aware that eating healthy and avoiding processed foods contributes to a healthy immune system, we are more motivated to make a plan and follow it. Knowledge is power. Planning meals for the week is a time-saving and healthy strategy. It includes developing meal plans, making a shopping list, shopping, cleaning and prepping vegetables. The worst thing we can do is not have a plan. We work all day and end up stressed out, exhausted and hungry. The perfect storm! We want fast energy, fast carbs! We eat chips, crackers, cheese, sweets, wine…. not a good plan. These become a meal, driving all the wrong hormones.
So, plan, work out a shopping list, clean and prep vegetables and break up meat into portion sizes to store in freezer bags, easily defrosted. Of course, there are meal plan companies that will deliver to your home as well as healthy neighborhood restaurants. During this time, eating at home may be an especially good option.
When we find that we have gained a lot of weight or are overeating, it may not be that we don’t have willpower or a good plan. Emotional challenges often drive excessive or binge eating. Life challenges and losses may trigger unhealthy food cravings. This isn’t the time for self-recrimination; it may be an indicator that support or therapy is needed.
The most important basic nutrients to add to your diet are enzymes, minerals, methylated B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin K, NAC, and essential fatty acids (EPA-DHA). Depending on the state of one’s health, a customized nutritional approach may be recommended as well as detox, a build-and-repair plan, hormonal support and gut support.
It is important to know whether you have sensitivities to your foods, as they can cause inflammation and lead to leaky gut syndrome, joint problems, headaches and skin problems. Sensitivities are not just inflammatory, they can also lead to nutritional deficiencies which can contribute to numerous health problems.