What is the optimal diet?
The truth is, there isn’t one answer, but the following guidelines should help create an amazingly healthy diet:
- Plan meals that incorporate the healthy foundation foods. It’s good to think through your meals in advance, before you get hungry, and perhaps plan several dishes to eat throughout the week. Cook several days worth of veggie chilli or tofu or tempeh stir-fry, for example, so that you don’t have to worry about preparation for every meal. Try to find meals that don’t take a ton of work to prepare, that can be cooked in large batches, and that include lots of veggies, along with beans, seeds, nuts, healthy protein, healthy fats, and a moderate amount of healthy grains.
- Have a healthy breakfast. Eating breakfast usually means you’re less hungry later in the day, and usually means you won’t grab a muffin or sandwich. A couple of favourite healthy breakfasts include steel-cut oats with berries, flaxseeds, raw almonds, raisins and cinnamon … or Greek yoghurt with berries, raw almonds, and flaxseeds.
- Eat mindfully. Mindful eating means you can stop when you’re full, and fully enjoy the food rather than being left unsatisfied when you’re done eating. It means you can enjoy social occasions without overeating, and eat unhealthy foods sometimes without overdoing it. It means you enjoy healthy foods more, because you learn to appreciate their often subtler tastes.
- Plan healthy snacks. There will likely be a time between meals when you start getting hungry, and if you don’t have healthy snacks planned, you’ll grab whatever’s convenient, which is not likely to be very healthy. Enjoy nuts and fruit as a quick, easy, healthy snack.
- Variety is good. While it’s not a bad idea to make large batches of meals that you can eat for several days, over the course of a month, you should switch the meals up, so that you get a variety of veggies, protein sources, healthy fats, whole grains. It gives you a variety of nutrients and also helps keep things interesting.
- Allow yourself the less-healthy foods in moderation. It’s unhealthy to be afraid of any kind of food, even if it’s unhealthy, and making yourself feel very restricted is likely to result in binge behaviour.
Instead, allow yourself some fried foods, fatty foods, sweet treats, processed bread … but in smaller amounts, and on occasion, instead of all day long.