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How to eat better!

There is no shortage of information out there about how to eat better. Everyone has an opinion, and many of them conflict. Is fat good or bad for us? Do calories matter? What about that USDA food pyramid? Which is best: Vegan or paleo? Omnivore, vegetarian, or pescatarian? Yes or no to dairy?

I'm not out to point to any One True Path of how to eat better because there is none that works for everyone! Individuals choose different diets based on their personal preferences and needs, on cultural tradition and what's available to them. Yet I also believe that mainstream thinking on the subject of food has major flaws. Powerful marketing forces are at work that persuade people to make food choices that aren't good for them.

My goal with this site is to help people move toward a healthier, happier state in all facets of their lives, and food plays an enormous role, giving us energy and the raw materials to live at peak performance. This is my contribution to demystifying the process of making responsible food choices.

There are two bedrock food facts that guide my approach to eating better:

  • Food processing strips away nutritional value at each step.
  • Industrial food production that focuses on volume produces food containing less nutrition than the same item grown in small batches.
how to eat better

Food is more than fuel. Food is also a source of pleasure! Meals shared with friends is one of the delights of being human. Food, in other words, is culture!

Our bodies create new cells every minute of every day, and food provides the building blocks. Unfortunately, many foods are devoid of nutrients and just plain unhealthy. If we want to achieve peak performance we need to be mindful of what we eat, so as to give the body the best materials to work with. Knowing how to eat better sets you up for better health and vitality.

These guidelines should work for most people, notwithstanding special diets, allergies, or food sensitivities. Individual results will vary. Think carefully before you make any big dietary changes. Slow, incremental changes are better than drastic ones.

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Enjoy all you want of these foods:

Filling your basket with a rainbow of veggies and fruit is both visually appealing and (more importantly) ensures that you're getting the widest range of precious plant nutrients (aka phytonutrients). Many of these nutrients are synthesized only in plants, yet are found in the human body in identical form.

For example, zeaxanthin, a compound found in yellow-orange fruits and veggies like peppers and carrots, and lutein, found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, are found in the human retina, where they act as blue filters and antioxidants to protect from macular degeneration, a serious eye disease.

So have fun as you gather your rainbow of healthy foods, and know you're choosing wisely!

  • Red bell peppers, tomatoes
  • Orange winter squash, carrots
  • Yellow bell peppers, winter squash
  • Green leafy veggies (lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, etc.)
  • Blueberries
  • Purple radicchio, eggplant
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, yogurt, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, hazel-, brazil-, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Small fish (sardines and herring)
  • Pasture-raised eggs
  • Grass-fed meat and dairy products
  • Good oils and fats: olive, almond, coconut oil, and butter
  • Mushrooms
  • Foods that exercise your teeth and chewing muscles
canteloupe melons, yum!

Enjoy these foods in moderation:

This is the grey area of "how to eat better". Many of these items are delicious and comforting, so consume them for the pleasure they bring you but be aware there may be healthier alternatives. Everything in moderation, including moderation!

  • Alcohol
  • Starchy veggies (i.e., potatoes, yams, beans)
  • Non-organic dairy (grass-fed is best)
  • Meat (grass-fed is best)
  • Eggs (pasture-raised is best)
  • Large fish (salmon, tuna)
  • Peanuts
  • Apples, pears, and oranges
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bread and pasta
  • Brown rice
  • White rice and wheat flour
fresh zucchini with blossoms

Avoid these foods

  • Bad fats and oils (vegetable shortening, margarine, anything hydrogenated)
  • Processed meats
  • Sweetened, carbonated beverages. If you're looking for one dietary change that will make you healthier, this is the one to eliminate from your diet, once and for all!
  • Processed sugar, fruit juice
  • Snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc.)

A word about fats

There is a persistent misunderstanding about the role of fats in our diet that deserves debunking. In short, we've been led to believe that fats in our food migrate to our waistlines. This is not true, and has led us to favor low-fat foods in the mistaken assumption that they are "healthy" and will help us avoid weight gain.

In truth, good fats (i.e., olive, coconut, and almond oils, butter, and animal fats) are essential nutrients. Our brain contains high amounts of fat. Fatty compounds surround our nerve cells, providing a form of insulation that keeps the electrical signals from leaking out, much as plastic insulation coats electrical wires. Denying ourselves good fats is not a healthy practice!

More on How to Eat Better!

  • Shop your local farmer's market. Foods are fresher, and often cheaper there, and you'll support the growers more directly than if you buy from a store. Farmer's markets can be fun community events, too.
  • Learn to cook from basic ingredients, and share these skills with your kids. Involve young people in food buying decisions. Knowing how to cook, and how to eat better are essential life skills that will remain with them their entire lives.
  • Practice mindful eating to improve digestion and nutrient assimilation. Avoid reading or other distractions while you eat, and take small bites and chew them thoroughly.
  • Express gratitude for the hands that brought you this food!
  • Plan ahead! You'll save money, make better nutrition choices, and eat better.

Most importantly: Enjoy your food! Good food is one of life's greatest blessings! Bon appetit!


I'll keep this simple. Each of these books sums up what I feel is a wise and proper approach to food, and you can take it from there:

eating better veggies

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