You’ve heard a thing or two (or five hundred) about diet trends like paleo, keto, gluten-free, low-carb, carnivore, plant-based…the list could go on an on. Each of these trends promise to be the magic bullet that will change your life and solve all your health problems.
The sheer volume of information is bound to leave you second guessing every food choice you’ve ever made and asking yourself, “Which one actually works?”
Well, here’s the thing – diets don’t work.
Okay, they might work for a time. You might lose some weight or have increased energy or sleep better. But they’re not sustainable. Eventually old habits start to creep back in due to the all-or-nothing nature of diets. And then any progress that you made slips away. You might even find yourself worse off than before you started the diet.
On the other end of the spectrum, diets can lead to disordered eating habits, causing you to be overly controlling of your diet. You might be eating really nutritious food, but this mindset can also wreak havoc on your mental health.
If any of this describes where you’re at, you’re not alone. And even if your diet didn’t work, you are not a failure. Diets, by nature, are designed to fail.
Rather than prescribing another diet, we want to recommend a strategy that will help you fulfill your body’s requirements for optimal health.
Eat By Design is a straight forward framework built on 10 fundamental principles.
1. EAT REAL FOOD FIRST
Fill your plate with food containing minimal ingredients like steak, carrots, or apples. You’ll naturally have less space on your plate (and in your stomach) for processed food.
If it’s green and grows from the ground or runs, swims, flies…it probably qualifies as “real” food.
2. PROTEIN WITH EVERY MEAL
Choose animal products like beef, pork, lamb, fowl, wild game, eggs, fish and other seafood.
While you may have heard that animal proteins are unhealthy, they are actually an extremely nutrient-dense food source. They provide loads of highly bio-available vitamins and minerals, meaning your body can easily absorb and use these essential nutrients.
And don’t worry about getting too much protein. It won’t strain your kidneys, weaken your bones, or make you fat. In fact, every cell in your body needs protein.
3. INCREASE QUALITY FAT
Fat has often been disparaged, largely due to the low-fat fad of the 1990s. What many people don’t know is that this trend grew due to some faulty research. However, quality fats are essential for optimal health.
Quality fats don’t make you fat or cause heart disease. They’re required for just about every function in your body.
Some great sources will come with the healthy animal proteins you consume, as well as butter, olive oil, avocados, and coconut.
4. EAT YOUR VEGGIES
Everyone knows vegetables are good for you. Frozen is a great option if you’re looking to save time or money.
Keep it simple. A big daily salad (with meat and fat) can yield almost all of your micronutrient requirements.
5. REMOVE GRAINS
Contrary to the advice of the USDA, grains aren’t as healthy as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, they don’t contain any nutrients that you can’t get in a more bio-available form in foods like meat, veggies, or fruits.
Look for grain replacements to use for cooking – almond flour and coconut flour are great options.
6. DECREASE SUGAR
No surprise here. Sugar is essentially sugar. Don’t be fooled into thinking that replacing sugar with “healthy” sugars like agave or maple syrup makes much difference.
While sugar has minimal nutritional value, the body does have the ability to metabolize a certain amount. Don’t lose your mind over a few grams here and there.
Fruit has sugar, but it also comes with fiber and antioxidants. It’s generally good for most.
7. DAIRY IS A GREY AREA
Some people respond well to dairy, while others can’t tolerate it.
If you do well with dairy, choose full fat sources like cream, butter, ghee and Greek yogurt. Try to avoid added sugar if possible.
8. EARN YOUR CARBS
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad, but the Standard American Diet includes more than what’s optimal, and those sources are usually highly refined and processed.
The more you exercise, the more your body will be able to properly use carbohydrates.
Choose whole food starches like root veggies and tubers rather than pasta and bread.
The most common deficiencies are Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Magnesium, and a healthy gut biome. Click here for more information.
10. STOP COUNTING CALORIES
Concentrate first on food quality. Your body is going to utilize 500 calories of nutrient-dense real foods far differently than 500 calories of processed food.
Focus on making small sustainable changes. You don’t have to try all 10 of these suggestions at once. Pick one or two things to start with. Once that feels like a consistent habit, try adding in something else.