What The Heck Should I Eat?!

Posted by Cariset on

I know that the anticipation for part two of this newsletter has been killing you, but I finally finished the book (reminder: I've been reading Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?) and am ready to report back!

As a general rule, there are two camps of people: people who live to eat, and people who eat to live. If you haven't already guessed, I fall into the live to eat group. I love trying all kinds of food, and I don't hold back on dessert. But, I try to maintain an 80/20 ratio -- 80% of the time, I'm mindful and watch what I eat, but 20% of the time (usually Fridays and Saturdays), I let myself eat what I want. I do find, however, that I don't crave some of the less healthy stuff when I've been eating really well. My point is that I don't think food should totally dictate every aspect of your life (unless you want it to). Let yourself live, but be mindful of your choices, and figure out what works for you.


Fats and Oils

Alright -- this part can be complicated, but once you break it down, it's not so confusing.Monounsaturated fat = good. These fats lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure, and can be found in the pillars of the Mediterranean diet (think olive oil, nuts and nut oils, avocados, and butter). The fats found in fish and meat are also "good." Dr. Hyman also believes coconut oil got a bad rep -- saturated fats are not the enemies we once thought they were. But trans fats? We were right about those -- very bad. Margarine, Crisco, and other hydrogenated trans fats are the reason Twinkies have a shelf life of multiple years. Yuck. 

But what should we be eating? Per the book, the answers are (BTW - add the word "organic" in front of everything on the list below):
  • Avocado oil and virgin coconut oil for cooking (higher smoke points than olive oil)
  • Grass-fed butter or ghee for cooking
  • Extra virgin olive oil and nut (walnut, almond, sesame seed, etc.) oils for salad dressings (if you're cooking over low heats, olive oil is probably fine for cooking)
What should we stay away from? 
  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower, sunflower, and palm oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Vegetable oil and shortening
  • Margarine and other butter substitutes
  • Anything that says "hydrogenated"
Beans, Nuts, and Seeds
Beans are strange. I thought all beans were good for you, but I know that the Whole30 diet eliminates them because they can cause digestive issues. Beans have protein in them, but you have to eat A LOT of beans to get the protein you need. Beans are also starchy and can cause issues for diabetics/stop you from losing weight. Nuts and seeds are just about as good as everyone things they are. Eat your heart out!

Here's what we should be eating:
  • Non-GMO, organic soybean-based foods like tofu, tempeh, natto, and miso, and gluten-free soy sauce
  • Peas and lentils (these are lower in starch!)
  • Black beans, garbanzo beans, and adzuki beans
  • Organic green beans and snow peas
  • Black-eyed peas, asparagus beans, other members of the cowpea family (if you know what these are, please let me know)
  • Whole soybeans (edamame, but don't overdo it!)
  • Mung beans
  • Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds (FYI - butters made of these nuts with no added oils/salt/sugar are A-OK)
  • Chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
And the naughty list:
  • Lima beans and kidney beans (high in starch! who knew)
  • Baked beans
  • Peanuts
  • Anything in a can lined with BPA
  • Nut butters with sugar, chocolate, or any form of candy
  • Nut butters with added oil or salt (think Skippy, which often has high fructose corn syrup--AKA the devil--in it)
This is what we've all been waiting for. Per Dr. Hyman, the insistence that carbs are better for you than fats will probably go down in history as the most catastrophic nutritional screw-up of the 20th century, killing literally millions of people. The endosperm is the energy store of whole grains and is all starch, which is bad. Starch is just sugar with a more complex molecular structure. Bread is a complex carb and sugar is a simple carb, but eating two sliced of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than eating two tablespoons of sugar. 

Dr. Hyman's advice: Eat weird grains. Many people are gluten intolerant, so avoid it if you can, and/or try an elimination diet (like Whole30) to see if you react poorly to gluten. 

The good guys:
  • Whole-kernel rye, if you're not sensitive to gluten
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Teff (again, unclear...please tell me if you try it!)
  • Sorghum
  • Black, brown, red, and wild rice
  • QUINOA - the champion of grains
  • Non-GMO whole corn
The bad guys:
  • Wheat (this encompasses pasta, bread...all the good stuff. Mark my words: I will still be eating these things, but I'll eat them sparingly.)
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Farro
  • Bulgur
  • Oats (sad but true - swap the oatmeal for chia seed pudding)
  • Semolina
  • Couscous
This is the saddest part for me. But remember the 80/20 rule, and make sure to enjoy life while being mindful!
Sugar/Sweeteners and Beverages
Now onto the treats. I'm pretty sure you can predict what this section will entail, but here we go! Generally, avoid sugar when you can -- it's bad. Some sugar is worse than others. Also, not all alcohol will kill you as some recent articles would have you believe.

Indulge in the following sweeteners when necessary:
  • Fresh, pureed fruit or fruit juice (as a sweetener)
  • Molasses
  • Organic palm sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar
  • Monk fruit
  • Organic maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Stevia
  • Erythritol (sparingly, though may cause weight gain)
  • ALL artificial sweeteners
  • Sugary beverages (juice/soda)
  • High-fructose corn syrup or any other type of syrup (aside from maple syrup)
  • Anything along the lines of agave syrup, corn syrup, sugarcane, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup
  • Any packaged foods with added sugars (which are everywhere -- start reading labels and you'll be shocked. Pasta sauce, salad dressings, yogurt, bread, ketchup, cereal, etc.)
  • Refined white sugar, brown sugar
Sugar is bad. We all get it. Don't ruin your life over it, but eliminating added sugar when you're not trying to eat sweets is a great place to start.

Good bevvies:
  • Water (okay, duh)
  • Tea and coffee
  • Wine in moderation (1 glass a day)
  • Spirits in moderation (1 drink a day)
  • Homemade green juices, shakes, and smoothies that don't include high-sugar fruits
  • Coconut and watermelon water
Bad beverages:
  • "Enhanced" waters like Vitamin Water
  • Waters with flavoring, coloring, or sweetening
  • Any fruit juice you don't squeeze yourself (but even those in moderation)
  • Any fruit smoothie or shake you didn't make yourself
  • Sugary coffee drinks
  • Sweetened/flavored iced teas
  • Milk
  • Beer (gluten + calories)
  • Soda/sugar-sweetened anything
That's it! A fairly simple, if sometimes depressing, set of rules. Eat healthy when you can, live your life when you want to, and find the balance that works for you.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published