Our Ten Dietary Guidelines
If you would like to begin eating better, living longer, and growing younger, Nutrition Coach recommends the following ten evidence-based guidelines so you can start your weight loss and lifelong wellness journey today by embracing a whole food, plant-forward plan.
- Choose Whole, Real, Natural Food
A basic rule of thumb is to eat what your great, great, grandparents would recognize as food. As often as possible, start with whole foods and cook them at home so you know everything that has been added and every preparation step. Conversely, one should eliminate ultra-processed food, junk food, and fast food from regularly scheduled meals (sparingly is fine).
- Eat Mostly Plants
Focus on leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits as well as beans, lentils, tubers, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Try to eat a ‘rainbow’ and a wide selection of seasonal, ripe, fresh, and frozen produce. Many of our clients also choose to eat locally grown or organic food whenever possible, and we support those options as well.
- Enjoy Raw Produce (20% Minimum)
This is one of two 80/20 rules that we suggest. Try to get 20 percent of your food (by volume) from raw produce. Why? The high heat of cooking does destroy some of the micronutrients within plants, so eating both raw and cooked will maximize your nutritional input. Of course, only eat plants that are safely consumed uncooked, so avoid raw potatoes or cassava.
This amount is easily achieved when enjoying leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. Of course, you can eat more than 20 percent of your food uncooked without any issues, but a good guideline is to aim for 80/20.
- Consume Fewer Animal Products (20% Maximum)
Animal products should be eaten in lower amounts than the Standard American Diet. We recommend aiming for 20 percent (or less) of your total calories. This is our second 80/20 rule: eat 80% plants/20% animals. Consider meat, poultry, game, fish, and other sources of animal protein as the side dish.
Choose grass-fed, sustainably farmed, or organic options whenever possible. If you eat fish, which is an excellent source of Omega-3 fats, select smaller, younger fish that are low in Mercury and not overharvested. Enjoy eggs and dairy occasionally in reasonable portions.
- Select Green or Lean Proteins, Good Carbs, and Smart Fats
Many fad diets recommend cutting all of one macronutrient group, like all fats or all carbohydrates. This is a real mistake as optimal human performance requires all the macronutrients in the correct amounts.
If you are worried about bad carbs, then get your good carbs from whole natural plants instead of breads or pastas (and you’ll also get all the fiber you need as well).
Likewise, fat is an essential part of every cell membrane and the building block for important physiological processes. Human beings need to consume smart fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olives, fish, lean cuts of meat, and other whole foods. If trying to lose weight, use vegetable oils or butter very sparingly, if at all, as these are concentrated sources of calories. Finally, select lean cuts of meat and ‘green’ or plant-based sources of protein such as beans, legumes, quinoa, and leafy greens like kale or broccoli.
- Pick Foods Rich in Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytonutrients
The easiest way to eat food that is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients is simply to eat plants that are minimally processed.
For example, the best to enjoy an apple is ripe, raw, and right off the tree (washed before eating, of course). Why not remove the peel? The skin itself contains a large portion of soluble fiber (pectin), and several antioxidants, plus vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. The flesh of the apple also has some of these, but bite for bite, the peel is packed with more.
Many highly processed foods remove the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and most of the phytonutrients. A good example is white bread. While it starts as wheat, the bleached white flour lacks the fiber-rich bran as well as the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This is why many breads are sold as ‘enriched’ as they had to add the vitamins and minerals back into the final product to make it ‘healthy’ again.
- Focus on Maximal Nutrition, Minimal Calories
Imagine two plates. One has steamed broccoli, the other has a slice of chocolate cake. Consider these two questions to evaluate which is the better selection for a healthy meal:
A. Which of the two choices has the most overall nutritional value (fiber, minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, plant proteins, good carbs, and smart fats)?
B. Which of the two choices has the least calories?
The obvious answer for both answers is the plate of broccoli because it both has the highest nutritional value as well as the lowest total calories.
When considering foods, or meals, use these two questions to determine the best possible choices. Eat foods like chocolate cake that are high in calories but have a low nutritional value very sparingly.
No food is forbidden, instead, low nutritional food like candy or pastries should be a rare treat instead of a regular staple.
- Seek Quality over Quantity
Whenever you eat, choose the highest quality foods possible. It is better to eat a little less but more nutritious food for the same price. This rule is not just for heirloom apples, organic kale, or wild-caught salmon, but for all foods.
If you elect to eat a bacon cheeseburger, then eat the highest quality bacon cheeseburger possible with the healthiest whole wheat bun, real cheddar cheese, grass-fed ground beef, etc. This ‘rule’ will not only increase the overall nutritional quality of every meal and often reduce the total calories consumed, but it will also enhance one’s awareness of daily food choices.
- Replace Seed Oils with Olive Oil
We do not recommend using lard, butter, or most Vegetable Oils (which are purposefully misnamed as these are really Seed Oils) because they are unhealthy choices.
Lard and butter contain lots of saturated fat which is associated with cardiovascular disease. Use sparingly.
Seed Oils contain high amounts of Omega-6 fats and should also be avoided because the Western diet is already too high in Omega-6 fats. Here is a list of oils to avoid:
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Soy Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
We recommend mostly using Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) which is low in Omega-6 fats, but high in Omega-3 fats. If you need to cook something at higher temperatures, Avocado Oil is the good choice.
- Avoid Additional Non-Food Chemicals
This includes artificial dyes, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial sweeteners, plus additives, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. If you choose to eat real, whole foods and wash all produce before consumption, this is easily done.