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What is a Healthy Diet?
It seems everyone has an opinion on a healthy diet, but I am going to tell you what a truly healthy diet is. I know you may be wondering if I really know what I am talking about. After all, I don’t have a degree of any kind. I am not certified in anything. But, I feel that I do have some answers that could help others get better.
I have a few qualifications-I used to be really sick, and that made me very motivated to help myself feel better. I have spent a good number of years studying because I really needed this information. It wasn’t simply a pastime and I didn’t learn from “general” health advice in popular publications. I learned from those who were in the trenches like me-those who were battling chronic illnesses in themselves or in their family members.
I learned a lot about diet and autism, diet and chronic fatigue, diet and pcos, diet and lyme’s disease etc. I began to see patterns in those who were truly getting better. Many of them ate the same way. They didn’t eat exactly the same things, but there were principles that were true for everyone.
I loved it when I found someone who had overcome something as huge as autism-because they were given little to no hope by their doctors. Their stories gave me hope that I could overcome my chronic fatigue, pcos, and other health issues.
I also read books by doctors who were actually reversing “incurable” conditions and diseases.Eventually, I started having some successes and breakthroughs in my own chronic health problems. Some of the successes were not from my diet but from other therapies. But, I truly believe diet laid the foundation so that I was strong enough to tackle other problems.
What I learned about diet was this: There are some basics that are true for most everyone. If you are not battling any serious diseases, I believe the principles I list below are the basis for good health. (If you are battling something serious, you will still need to follow a lot of these principles with some tweaks for your situation).
Before I had health problems I thought health and weight loss was connected to how much you ate or in what proportions you ate carbs, protein etc. I had it partway right-the proportion of carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in a person’s diet is really important. (See the Principles of a Healthy Meal in the next section.) But, what I got wrong was the thought that only the proportion and amount of food mattered. I didn’t realize that the quality of the food was very, very important.
I noticed as I studied diets that were actually healing people that each food was very carefully chosen. I learned that there was a huge difference in the healing ability of a food based on how “clean” that food was. In other words, one kind of beef could cause health problems while another could be very healing. I learned things like what kind of chicken to buy, what vegetables and fruits were important to buy organic, and what brands of bread were truly healthy.
I definitely believe that quality food is the foundation for health.
Principles of a Healthy Meal
Eat healthy fats at every meal.
Fat is vital to good health-it helps to keep carbohydrates from spiking your blood sugar, it is necessary to keep your hormones in good working order, it helps your adrenals so that you can manage stress better. Fats are good for your digestion and are easy to digest for most people. Sometimes, someone has a weak liver or gallstones or impaired digestion, and must temporarily eat less fat. But, that doesn’t mean that the fats aren’t needed-only that the liver or digestion needs some help first.
Protein is also very important.
Protein is also vital for good health. Protein helps to keep the blood sugar in a healthy range. The amino acids in protein are necessary for many bodily functions. When I was working on mercury detox, It was imperative that I had enough protein. Most of the time when people hear the word detox, they think of vegetables or fruits. But, protein is vital when detoxing. Again, sometimes someone will need a vegetable only diet for a while to fight a specific condition. But, for most everyone, protein will need to be a part of their diet. And I don’t mean protein from plant sources.
Protein from plant sources will not help your bones, teeth or immunity. (You can check out the benefits of the fat soluble vitamin A that is in animal products in this article.)
Protein from plant sources is often hard to digest in the amounts that are needed to get enough protein. Often blood sugar and digestion issues becomes a problem with a vegetarian diet, because there are more carbs in a vegetarian diet. (Plant protein often contains carbs.)
Vegetables are very important.
From my last paragraph, you might think that I don’t believe much in eating plants. I do think plants are vital to good health-just that they aren’t adequate in and of themselves. Vegetables should be eaten in large amounts along with adequate protein and fat.
Whenever I choose to share a meal on the blog, I make sure that there are the right amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Then I fill in the rest of the meal with non starchy vegetables. Vegetables reduce the risk of many diseases, and are full of vitamins and minerals that keep your skin glowing and your energy levels high. Vegetables have helped me personally in my healing journey-I share how vegetables helped me here.
Starches are an important part of most people’s diets.
Starches are healthy for most people, yet they also have the most potential to wreck someone’s health. If someone is battling obesity, diabetes, cancer, or an autoimmune disease, starches may need to be reduced or even eliminated for a while. There is a place for no starch diets. But, most people just need a starch upgrade.
The “American” starches have some serious issues. Many are genetically modified, refined, bleached, and spike the blood sugar too high. Eating these starches really can cause some serious diseases. The meals I recommend are low in starches compared to the typical American diet, but have adequate amounts of the right kinds of starches.
Starches can cause tooth decay, weak bones, weakened immunity, and weight gain. The starches that I recommend do not cause these problems. They are starches like vegetables or fruits. Or they are soaked or sprouted so that they do not contain the antinutrients which cause the tooth decay, weak bones, or weakened immunity. These types of starches are easy to digest. I also recommend jasmine rice for the reasons I outline in this post.
It is possible to not eat enough starch and cause hormonal chaos. Some people (especially women) can have lowered body temperature, weight gain, fatigue, and other issues from too little starch. Starch does have a place in most healthy people’s diet. But keep reading, because you may need a diet that only includes very specific starches like the ones listed below.
Special Diets for Specific Health Issues
The SCD and Paleo Diets
If you have digestive issues like Chron’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, you may benefit from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD diet), or the Paleo diet. Both are grain free-meaning all the starches must come from vegetables, fruits, nuts, or honey. (Certain starchy beans are also allowed on the SCD diet.)
Rice, corn, wheat, bread, crackers, noodles and all other grain products must be excluded.
The SCD and Paleo diet are very healthy and much of the recipes and meals I recommend on this blog fit the criteria for these diets. But, I also include meals with bread and rice for those who do not have health issues like the ones mentioned above.
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol
If you have an autoimmune disease (and there are many around nowadays-including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Celiac’s Disease) then you may benefit from doing the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. It is similar to the Paleo diet, but it is an elimination diet, so there are even fewer foods that are allowed at the beginning of the diet. But, then each food is trialed to see if it causes your particular symptom(s).
Some of the recipes I recommend on this blog are compliant with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I will label it that way on the blog (unless I forget!).
A Balanced Healthy Diet
So, in a nutshell, a healthy meal for most people has enough protein and fat to:
- help keep the blood sugar balanced
- keep you detoxing properly
- keep your hormones working properly
- to keep your immunity high
- to keep the hormones working properly
- to give you energy
- to help your body detox
- to give you vitamins and minerals
- to keep your skin glowing
- to keep your immunity high
- to fight off diseases
Disclaimer: This post is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional. I share only from my own experiences and research. Consult your own practitioner before making changes in your diet or supplements.