This guest blog article from Dr. Jeff Donatello focuses on the "Fork Fitness" component is to get you back on track with the best way to eat healthy to optimize your methylation pathways, boost your metabolism and decrease inflammation (ie. heart attack or stroke) and heal from chronic pain.
If you go to the local bookstore, you will see entire rows of books on this subject. As a nutritionist I have seen and heard it all, which is why I like to keep it simple.
Five Basic Principles :
- Eat real food
- Eliminate toxins and toxic food (processed foods)
- Eat slowly
- Eat for you
- Follow the 80/10/10 Rule
First of all, lets make a couple points clear
1. This eating style is not pure Paleo, vegetarian, vegan or anything other than a healthy way to eat. It is designed to improve your health and methylation by providing the body with more of what it needs and less of what it doesn't.
2. Don't get stuck in the minutia. Think big picture to start. Get the five basic principles down and start following them. If that's all you do from here forward, you've already won.
3. You don't have to be perfect, and I don't expect you to be. I'm not. But, do your best to be true to this eating style and your health and energy will improve.
4. Its possible your health may be compromised in such a way that you've developed food sensitivities and intolerances or lack the digestive enzymes to break these healthy foods down. You will likely need some additional support and coaching to help you on your journey to improved health and an optimized you. These recommendations are for general health and wellness. For those that are elite athletes or endurance athletes you will need to tweak what you are eating based on your goals and training program.
5. Regardless of what your friends, family, or doctor says; eating this way is healthy.
Eat Real Food. Principle one is pretty straightforward and simple. I want to make sure you're eating food as much as possible in a form that once roamed the earth or came out of the ground. The less processed the food is, the better off you will be (this is not rocket science). Always try and eat food with minimal ingredients that are man made. You will not be able to completely avoid processed foods, and that is ok. But, if you can severely limit the amount of processed food you eat, you're removing to a large degree extra sugars, flavoring, preservatives, and other additives that are potentially toxic to the body. Anything that increases toxicity in the body puts a greater level of stress on the body and our methylation processes.
Eliminate Toxins and Toxic Foods. Unless you are able to start raising your own livestock and growing your own vegetables it's difficult to truly know what the quality of your food is so do your best to eat as clean as you can. To do this:
- Eat foods that are as close to how they came out of, or walked on this earth as possible.
- Start a small garden and grow some of your own food. I know people who will do this for you on your own property.
- Find a local organic farm, food share, or farmers market and purchase as much of your vegetables fresh, in season, and organic
- Opt for frozen when fresh in-season vegetables are not available
- Reduce or better yet totally eliminate grain products, especially wheat and gluten containing grains. Know that even though gluten is enough of a reason to not eat grains, there are other toxins hiding in the grains like mold, glyphosate and more.
- When you shop in a traditional grocery store, shop the outer aisles, that's where most of the non or minimally processed foods are located
Eat Slowly. You are busy, I get it, but do not make the mistake of eating on your way to doing something else. We either skip eating because we don't have time or eat the most convenient thing we find so that we feel full. There are two parts of the nervous system; the sympathetic (fight or flight) system and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) system. For optimal digestion we need our parasympathetic system to be dominant. We need to be calm and relaxed so that energy is used by the digestive system and not the fight or flight system. When the body is under stress (perceived or unperceived) energy is shunted away from our parasympathetic nervous system and our digestion and toward our sympathetic system. This is not good as it limits the release of vital digestive acids and enzymes needed for proper digestion. When digestive function decreases, inflammation, food intolerances, allergies, skin problems, bloating, gas, and constipation all become possible symptoms.
So what can you do to "set the plate" for better digestion?
Try these helpful hints:
- Plan meals out so that you have 20 to 30 minutes to sit and eat
- A half hour before your meal, drink an 8 ounce glass of water with the juice of half of a lemon
- Meditate, say a prayer, or take five deep breaths before your meal.
- Cut your food into small pieces
- Put your fork down between bites
- Chew each mouthful 20 times before swallowing
- Minimize the fluids you consume with your meal. If you are thirsty during your meal, you are eating too fast
Eat For You. You must find what works best for you. Discover foods you enjoy that fall within my Fork Fitness guidelines. Just because I like my green smoothie doesn't mean you will. So, play with recipes. Be daring. Tweak recipes until you enjoy them. Be creative. You are more likely to keep this eating style if you enjoy the food than if you feel like you are eating things you don't like in an effort to be healthy. Remember though, it takes up to eight attempts to acquire a taste for something.
What to Eat:The 80/10/10 Rule. There are three main macronutrients we need to discuss briefly. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The biggest problem I see over and over again with most people is the disproportion of carbohydrates they consume. Typically because they are quick to gobble down and you get a burst of energy from them. So what do you need to eat? Let me preface this by saying if you have digestive issue like heart burn, bloating or bowel issues, I will be focusing on correcting those first. Once those are corrected we will apply the 80-10-10 rule. What this means is 80 percent of what you eat is well thought out, nutrient dense, whole organic food (if possible). 10 percent is questionable food. And the other 10 percent is just plain bad for you food. I am a realist. Life is short and if you are healthy, without food sensitivities, I feel you should be able to plow through a brownie sundae every so often. Especially if you are working out six days a week. I know I do.
The following are the three macro nutrients (Protein, fats and carbs) and some ideas about each
Proteins contain amino acids which are the building blocks of all our cells, enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters. We need them.
- Natural protein sources come from meat, eggs, fish, fowl and crustaceans. They provide complete sources of protein with all essential amino acids. Plants contain incomplete proteins because they don't contain all our essential amino acids. Vegetables provide a good source of proteins.
- Proteins from grains will be avoided at least initially because they can be disruptive to the digestive tract of many peopleSomewhere between 20 to 30% of your diet should come from protein sources. Please do not count calories and make your food a spreadsheet.
You have been brainwashed by bad science and unethical business practices for the last 20 years. We have been told, saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for your heart. Fat has been blamed for all kinds of health problems but today's research has exposed the anti-fat, anti-cholesterol movement for what it was; bad science and unethical business.The worst thing about fat is that it is called fat. Which gives it a negative vibe, but you must understand, fat is critical to a healthy diet, a healthy body, and a healthy you.
Not all fats are created equal however so let's do a little education here so we are on the same page. There are three major types of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat. If you want to talk fat with me some day we can do that but for now lets just say that its not the fat that is bad (unless you are talking about polyunsaturated fat), its that poisons and chemicals are absorbed into the fat of the animals we eat. In turn when we eat them, we eat their stored poisons. Our focus will be on consuming primarily saturated fats from grass fed animals and monounsaturated fats from high-quality olive oil or coconut. We want to control the amount of polyunsaturated fats that we put into our bodies, making sure they come from sources such as: fish, fish oil, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that when digested and absorbed provide the "glucose" or simple sugar that is a primary fuel for the body. The over consumption of carbohydrates contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic conditions. Many in the Paleo community blame carbohydrates for all that is wrong with humanity. I don't buy that. There are pros and cons to consumption of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in the right form and right quantity for each individual is the key. A simple rule with carbohydrates is to limit as much as possible processed grains and totally eliminate wheat and gluten containing grains for a few weeks. Eat carbohydrates based on your activity level or health goals. If you are trying to lose weight, low carbohydrate intake is best. If you are an athlete, your needs will be higher. If you are looking for a percentage, 20 to 30% of food intake should be carbohydrate based. The carbohydrates in my program are safe starches and mild amounts of fruit.
Where do vegetables fit in? Vegetables are a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Try to get some vegetable in every meal.
Here are a few tips:
- Grow some if you can - than you know their quality
- Eat organic in season vegetables when possible
- Eat frozen when not in season
- Avoid canned vegetables
- Eat all colors of vegetables
- Eat a combination of cooked and raw vegetables
What about dairy? This is a tough one. Many people have problems when they consume dairy. My basic recommendation is to avoid dairy all together for a few weeks if you have inflammatory-based issues which we will discuss on an individual basis. If you choose to consume, be aware that the proteins in dairy and the lactose provide the biggest challenges. You can use ghee, raw dairy, and full fat options versus low/no fat highly processed forms. If you eat butter, makes sure it is grass fed butter only. Kerrygold from Ireland is the brand to look for here. Overall, if you notice any discomfort when you consume dairy, it's best to avoid it for at least a few months.
What to drink? I'm a big fan of water. Be aware public water supplies are tainted with fluoride and other chemicals. Understand if the water you drink is not filtered, then you are the filter. If you need add flavor to your water, try muttering a half of a lemon or lime into your water. Not only will it add flavor, but vitamins and minerals as well. Totally avoid soda, fruit drinks, and energy drinks. Tea, coffee, and alcohol can be consumed if used minimally. There are benefits to all but detriments also. Limit to one or two teas, coffees, or alcohol drinks per day. I recommend less than one per day over a weeks time. When it comes to all of these things, they can disrupt methylation pathways if over-consumed.
- Eat when you are hungry.
- If you are not hungry, don't worry about having to eat because it's a specific time of the day.
- Remember to slow down when you eat for better digestion
- You'll find you eat less, don't get full or bloated, and your digestion is so much better
- You'll also find you actually start to taste and appreciate the food you eat more
- Be aware of how food makes you feel. Your body is really trying to tell you something when you eat
This guest blog was adapted from an article Dr. Jeff Donatello wrote. For more information on Dr. Jeff Donatello, DC, CNS, CFMP, please visit http://amethylatedlife.com/dr-jeff-donatello/
For more details about the natural approach I take with my patients, take a look at the book I wrote entitled: Reclaim Your Life; Your Guide To Revealing Your Body's Life-Changing Secrets For Renewed Health. It is available in my office or at Amazon and many other book outlets. If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the top of this post and please share with those you know who are still suffering with chronic health challenges, despite receiving medical management. Help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living! Thank you!