In my last blog post I talked about what foods should make up the bulk of your daily food intake. Bottom line: eat real food, meaning food that has always been food.
Don’t make it too complicated. I can’t emphasize this enough.
I put together a list in that last blog post of things that I recommend eating that you can pin or screenshot.
If there’s something you’re interested in eating that isn’t on that list, don’t freak out, and don’t look to anybody to tell you whether it’s “allowed” or not. I encourage you to get in tune with your body and make your own rules. If it’s made from real food (not some packaged garbage or ingredients you can’t pronounce), and you don’t have a physical reaction to it, then eat it. If you don’t feel good eating it, then don’t. It’s honestly that simple. If you’re not sure, then stick with the foods on my recommended list.
This is all about progress, not perfection. It’s also about learning what works well for you, which may not be what’s good for others.
So, that brings us to the topic of food quality. If you’re following a real food diet, chances are you’re paying attention to food quality anyways. However, for those of you just starting out or , let me explain why food quality matters.
Food quality matters because:
- The higher the food quality, the better usable nutritional value it will bring to your body,
- The higher the food quality, the more likely your food will drive a healthy hormone reaction.
- The higher the food quality, the more micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are bioavailable for your body to use. Vitamins and minerals that come from food are a far better solution than ones that come from a pill, since they tend to be found in the right forms, in the right proportions, with the appropriate corresponding minerals and enzymes needed for digestion.
Here are some other questions I get.
Will better food quality make me healthier? Absolutely. Better nutrition = better health at every level.
Will better food quality make me skinnier? Not necessarily by itself, but better food quality will bring you better digestion, which helps a healthier hormone response. People with dysregulated hormones or hormone disorders will always have trouble losing weight in a sustainable manner. This is why I believe in improving food quality, digestion, and stress before you attempt to lose any weight.
If I’m happy with my weight, why should I care? Better nutrition and better hormones drive an increase in your quality of overall health, and do things like improve your immune system and improve your digestion, which affects the way you look and feel, regardless of your weight. Better digestion can help you better deal with stress.
Who should look to improve their food quality? Unless you are one of the few people raising all your own food on an organic farm, basically everyone can benefit. Most of us can make some simple changes that have big impacts. However, I go out of my way to emphasize it to people who:
- Want to lose weight but have underlying stress or health issues they need to address first
- Deal with hormonal disorders
- Have poor digestion
- Have poor skin or strange skin issues
- Have immune system deficiencies or gets sick a lot
- Feel run down all the time
- Are under chronic stress
I think it’s also important to note that while buying the best quality is ideal and highly recommended, don’t stress out about buying the absolute best if it isn’t within your budget. Buy the best that your budget allows and don’t stress yourself out about it.
Here are my recommendations of what Good, Better, and Best quality food sources are:
Beef and Lamb*
Best: 100% grass-fed and finished,
Better: grass-fed, pasture-raised
Baseline: commercial (hormone and antibiotic-free)
Best: pasture-raised, local
Better: free-range, organic
Eggs & Poultry
Best: pasture-raised, local
Better: free range, organic
Good: cage-free, organic
Always buy full fat (yum)!
Best: grass-fed, raw/unpasteurized
Baseline: organic or commercial
Good: humanely harvested, non-grain-fed
Baseline: farm-raised—not recommended
Want to know the difference between “WILD FISH” and “WILD-CAUGHT FISH”? “Wild fish” were spawned, lived in, and were caught in the wild. “Wild-caught fish” may have been spawned or lived some part of their lives in a fish farm before being returned to the wild and eventually caught again. Visit www.seafoodwatch.orgn or download their app here for a continuously updated list of the most sustainable seafood choices.
Produce (Fruits and Vegetables)
Best: local, organic, and seasonal
Better: local and organic
Good: organic or local
Also check out the Environmental Work Group’s Dirty Dozen if you need to prioritize fruits and veggies to fit your budget. For example, I never ever buy organic bananas. It’s just not worth it.
Fats and Oils
Best: organic, cold-pressed, and from well-raised animals
Better: organic, cold-pressed
Good: organic or conventional
*These recommendations been adapted from the Balanced Bites Master Class, which I just completed (and learned so much from!).
Again… don’t make it complicated or blow your rent money to improve your food quality. If you’re on a budget, make the best choices possible for you in the moment.
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P.S. – Dealing with stress right now? I’ll be doing a webinar on 5 Simple Steps to Overcome Stress and Exhaustion in 30 days… sign up here.
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