Does it really matter if it’s January or July? You can clean up your diet any time of year, even if it’s just one small change at a time. In fact, we at Optimal Wellness Niagara believe in progress, one step at a time so continually making small changes to your diet will go a long way to increase your overall health.
Below is a 12-step program for cleaning up your diet. Take a month to complete each step below. Taking time means your new healthy eating habits will most likely start to become the norm for you, that your palate will adjust to the new flavours of real food, that you will find new quick and delicious dishes to eat, and that your hormones can balance and remove carb or sugar cravings. Taking it slowly removes UDP Syndrome (Unreasonable Diet Perfection) which can cause spikes and crashes in your self-esteem and will-power that leads to typical diet failure.
Your diet is but one part of anyone’s personal wellness program – but it’s a great start.
Step One: eat twice as many vegetables as you are eating right now. Click the link for more details.
Step Two: reduce the refined carbohydrates by half. Click the link for more details.
Step Three: eat whole foods – meaning fruit and vegetables, not fruit juices or frozen vegetable dinners. Fresh whole foods are synergistic, meaning they contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre and hundreds of other live nutrients your body needs to function properly. Don’t be afraid of sugar in fruits and vegetables because they will be balanced by fibre and other factors that work naturally in your body.
Step Four: remove all added sugar from your diet including sodas and sugary fruit juices. Sugar in processed foods is a danger to your health. These are called empty calorie foods, meaning the sugar adds calories but the food doesn’t offer any vitamins, minerals or any other live ingredients to balance it off or make it healthy, despite what the front of the package claims. Sugar is the number one killer in Canada and is not an essential nutrient.
Step Five: I don’t agree with the low-fat movement, however, what was born out of that era was a distinction between good and bad fats – that’s a good thing. Today we understand that we need to eat more good or healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil (in moderation). You can increase your consumption of healthy fats and don’t need to worry about weight gain. Eating a good amount of healthy fat daily will curb carbohydrate cravings.
Step Six: too much animal protein can be hard on your body in many ways. By cutting back on your animal protein and eating more vegetables, you lessen the burden and allow your body space it may need to heal. Choose grass-fed or organic options. Try eating more fatty fish such as cold-water salmon, trout, tuna, and seafood.
Step Seven: Learn to cook and flavour your dishes. I’m not talking about cooking as entertainment, as a skill or even as art. Cooking is more than what TV has made it out to be, cooking is everyone’s right. Knowing how to cook is about taking care of yourself, and your family; cooking allows you to control what goes into your body. If you plan and prep well, you can cook more often. Then learn to flavour your dishes with nutritional herbs and spices such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper. If you can cook and add flavour to your food, you will always love what you eat and loving what you eat can keep you moving along the path to reach your health goals.
Step Eight: cut out 100% of the refined carbohydrates. The same as the first step, but now we’re going all the way. In your kitchen, you should no longer have any boxes, bags, cans or jars of factory-made food with the three deadly ingredients: flour, sugar, and fat. Processed foods are highly addictive and if you have increased the number of healthy fats as recommended in Step Five, you have less to no cravings for carbs and sugar. Tip: eating more healthy fats will satiate you and lessen your cravings and binges.
Step Nine: eat twice as many vegetables as you are eating right now. This is the same as Step One, but you’re still not eating enough vegetables. So take this month and make it delicious vegetable research month. Eat about 75% of your plate in vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I guarantee there are more varieties of vegetables in the produce section than you are used to eating. This means plenty of opportunities to vary your diet in the right direction.
Step Ten: make water you’re go-to beverage (without sweetener), even 1 glass per day more than your usual consumption is a giant step in the right direction. Drink coffee and black tea in moderation (caffeine reduction), about 1 cup per day. Herbal teas are unlimited. As always, avoid sweeteners. Drink wine in moderation, around 1 glass per day, however, this is completely optional.
Step Eleven: too much commercial dairy products can be hard on your body in many ways. By cutting back on commercial dairy products and eating more vegetables, you lessen the burden and allow your body the space it may need to heal. If you like lattes, try making your own nut cream. Nut cream and/or milk can be used in any recipe that calls for traditional cream or milk
Step Twelve: eat more nuts and seeds but only choose raw to avoid rancid, oxidized or the wrong kind of fats that can be inflammatory and harmful. Pick almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds to start with.
Look for the monthly post called, FOOD101, The 12-Step Diet Clean-Up Challenge posted at the beginning of each month. Each post will offer up details, tips, information, recipes and food lists for each step.
Register for FOOD101, a course on medicine that tastes good. It’s the common sense approach to alleviating most of life’s most common health issues such as weight gain, fatigue, unstable blood sugar issues, inflammation, cognitive challenges, diabetes and certain heart diseases and more.
This plan is not intended to diagnose or manage disease nor to provide specific or general medical advice. Its intention is solely to inform and educate. For the diagnosis or management of any disease please consult your physician.