When you fill up your car at the gas station, do you put water in it? Would you put window cleaner, soda or juice? A mechanic will tell you that gasoline is the right fuel to get your car moving and perform its best. Our body is also a machine, an amazing and miraculous machine! Like a car, it needs special fuel to perform its best and eating healthy is the right fuel.
But eating healthy is so confusing! Isn’t it? News, advertising, doctors, the government, special diets are here to confuse us. What was true last year may be wrong this year. How do you know what’s true?
Let’s talk about Mary. She and her husband decided to follow the Paleo diet. She loves to cook and her family eats most of their meals at home, rarely eating out. They felt great on this diet. The surprise came during their annual exam. Her husband blood work was superb and hers was not. A diet fit for one person may not work for another.
A great way to eat healthily is by following the Traffic Light Eating, a concept brought to the USA by Dr. Bill Sears from the Sears Wellness Institute.
How does it work? Just like driving a car, the traffic light tells you what to do. Green means Go – Yellow means Slow Down – Red means Stop and Think.
Isn’t that simple? Let’s see what foods fit in each category.
Green Light Foods
All fruits and vegetables. These foods are the easiest to understand. They are grown and not manufactured so our bodies digest them easily. They are low in calories and high in nutrients. Most of the time they can be eaten raw. You can eat as much as you want of the Green Light food during the day. Just “Go!”
Yellow Light Foods
“Whole” grains, lean meats (poultry, fish, red meats), dairy, nuts and seeds, eggs, soy foods, oils (olive, avocado). They have more calories, sugar, fat than green light foods. You can eat them daily but in moderation. Portion control and understanding food labels become key as red light food can easily disguise as yellow light foods. Remember to “Slow Down!”
Red Light Foods
All process foods like cookies, candy, chips, white bread, soda, juice, bacon, hot dogs, fatty meats. Most contained the three bad man-made ingredients: corn syrup, excitotoxins, and hydrogenated oil. They are high in calories-fat-sugar and low in nutrients. The ingredients have names that your grandparents would not recognize and that you probably cannot pronounce. But they are so good you may say. Think of these as special occasion foods and eating very small portions. Remember to “Stop and Think!”
5 Tips for Eating Healthy
#1 – Do you know eating healthy is a habit you develop? Parents can encourage their children to eat green light foods by calling these foods “grow strong foods,” “soccer foods,” “run fast food,” “beautiful hair foods.”
#2 – Do you know your stomach is about the size of our fist? I am known for eating small meals throughout the day instead of large meals. I learned to do that because my mom was a Type I diabetic. Besides exercise, eating small meals increases your metabolism. Your tummy also feels good because it doesn’t have to work so hard to digest large amounts of food.
#3 – Do you eat only when you are hungry? My husband taught me to eat only when I’m hungry. Sometimes, the time of day or my emotions affected my eating habits (Ok, Ok, they still do sometimes!). I now ask myself, are you sure you are hungry Margarita?
#4 – Do you read food labels? My rule of thumb is food with less than five good ingredients. I enjoy chips, rice crackers, good cheese and other yellow light foods and are careful to read what’s in them. I have seen in one product “sugar” under four different names. The average person doesn’t realize all the sugar is eating.
#5 – Do you listen to your body after eating? Believe it or not, there are some foods even in the Green Light category that don’t agree with me like green or red pepper or spicy food (which I love). Become aware how you feel after eating a meal.
You are the one responsible for your health and wellbeing. Not the government, a manufacturer, a physician. Become aware what foods make you feel heavy, bloated or sleepy and what foods give you a feeling of lightness.
Next time you eat, ask yourself, How Do I Feel?
Check out my Pantry Makeover service. No, you don’t have to throw food away. You will learn to replace what you love and start eating healthy or healthier. Learning to read food labels is also included.
Hippocrates famously said: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food.”