Healthy eating has had many definitions through the years. We've been told to eat no fat/low fat, or no carbohydrate/low carbohydrate. We've been sold shakes, bars, and packaged food as meals or meal replacements. What do you do, who do you believe?
Speak to a qualified professional, and ask yourself, "Is this professional helping me or just selling to me?" Make an informed decision and research any products that you are sold, especially if you will ingest it.
Recently people have turned to gluten-free or are vegetarian or vegan. We've been told to eat only organic food or to never eat foods that contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). How do we know what is healthy and how we should we eat?
My definition of healthy eating is: "Eating food that is enjoyable to you in the quantity that is good for you." For example, cookies may be enjoyable to you but only a small quantity is good for you, as opposed to broccoli that may also be enjoyable to you while a large quantity is good for you. I teach my clients how to eat with the Five-Finger Food Guide. This guide stresses balance among all food groups, and includes a special food group containing foods that offer no nutritional value yet you enjoy. The special group includes alcohol, cookies, chips, and similar items. Eating a balanced well-rounded diet includes all food groups, in the right quantity. This is the healthiest style of eating. It leaves nothing out. The Five-Finger Food Guide may also be followed by vegans, vegetarians, or anyone concerned about GMOs, gluten, or organic food. In the Five-Finger Food Guide, each finger on your hand represents a food group, and the length of each finger represents the balance of these groups. The guide explains the balance and quantity of the food you eat. Regardless of your eating preference, balance and portion size should be adhered to most often.
Can you eat a balanced well-rounded diet if you eat gluten free or if you want to eat organic items and never want food containing GMO's? Can a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle be balanced and well-rounded? Yes!
Gluten-free eating is eliminating items containing wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is a protein found in each. Gluten allergies or gluten sensitivity causes an inflammatory reaction in the intestines, and for those suffering from celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment. Gluten is found in processed meat and fish, baked products, pasta, bread, candy, beer, gravies/sauces, thickeners, packaged and processed items. Additives in these products are made from gluten. Food that is naturally gluten-free includes protein items, all fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. People who are gluten-free can choose carbohydrates from rice, quinoa, lentils/beans, corn, and potatoes. A gluten-free diet is an easy transition into eating a balanced, well-rounded diet.
"GMOs are plants or animals whose cells have been inserted with a gene from an unrelated species in order to take on specific characteristics. For example, plants might be genetically engineered to develop a resistance against insects or to increase nutrients. GMOs have been part of our food for the past 20 years. No genetically-engineered animals have been approved for sale for human consumption in the United States." Opponents of GMOs claim there are potential health and nutritional risks to the altered food, yet GMOs are approved by the FDA. In the United States, labeling GMOs on food packaging is not mandatory, but you'll notice that if a product does not contain GMOs, the package will state that fact in bold print. Eating a balanced well-rounded diet has little to do with whether you choose to eat food that is genetically engineered or not.
"Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products." Farmers may not use synthetic pesticides, GMOs, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers on their crops. Organic livestock must have access to outdoors and be given organic feed without antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is usually fresher when you purchase it because it contains no preservatives. If you choose to eat only organic food, choosing a balanced well-rounded diet from all food groups can be easily accomplished.
A vegetarian does not eat meat, poultry, fish or any animal byproduct found in processed food. There are various types of vegetarians; for example, an ovo-vegetarian may eat eggs, but not dairy products, an ovo-lacto vegetarian will include both eggs and dairy, and a pescetarian will include fish and shellfish. It's an individual decision. Many choose nuts, beans, milk, cheese, and eggs, or drink milk to include protein. Protein is important to every cell in your body and will help you to feel satisfied. A balanced well-rounded diet can be a challenge to a vegetarian due to their limited choices of protein. Many of my vegetarian clients claim that they had exchanged sweets for protein to feel satisfied until they learned how to include protein items that are acceptable to them.
Donald Watson coined the term vegan in 1944, but interest in veganism increased in the 2010s. A vegan abstains from eating any and all animal products. Vegans lack animal protein items, and since Vitamin B-12 happens naturally in animal products, they usually have a B-12 deficiency. Vegans and many vegetarians should supplement with vitamin B-12 vitamin. A vegan diet will include grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Vegans can consider soy, grains, beans, legumes, and nuts among their protein items. Vegan foods made without animal products, such as vegan cheese, mayo, hot dogs, etc., have become more popular in supermarkets. While a vegan diet is considered a low cholesterol style of eating, I've had vegan clients who claim to have eaten high fat items, such as French fries, in place of vegetables. In order for a vegan to eat a balanced well-rounded diet, they must remember to eat protein items that fit the vegan lifestyle each day.
Your eating style is your choice. To ensure healthy eating keep it balanced and well-rounded. Eat food that is enjoyable and satisfying and is a good fit with your principles and beliefs.