In case you haven’t noticed, half a year has already passed us by. The seasons have definitely changed, taxes are due, and most importantly; we have arrived at the final Natures 7 Healers – Whole Foods/Healthy Diet.
It’s been a bit of a journey getting here. Each month we dove into one of the healers, and challenged ourselves; we aimed for less technology before bed, more sunshine and fresh air, and getting more movement into our everyday. Some months were easier than others….
This month we’re looking at whole foods and healthy diet. I’d like to introduce a quote from one of my favourite research/writers, Mr Michael Pollen, as he said so well in his Food Rules book, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Sounds simple enough, right?. But somewhere along the line, I feel like simplicity has gone out the window, and made way for overly complex, often restrictive, ways of eating. This month I am going to challenge you, and myself, to do three things to our diets.
The three challenges I’m going to set will benefit anyone on any health journey. Whether you are an athlete or not, if you have digestive problems, if your hormones are a little out of kilter, and it will even help if your immune system is a little bit under par. The brilliant thing about the challenges I’m going to set is, it doesn’t matter what your food philosophy is, you can apply these principles to ensure a whole food, healthy diet. For ALL my paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, IF friends out there, you can do these challenges too!
The three challenges to get your whole foods healthy diet on track are:
1. Eat the Rainbow everyday
2. Eat 40 types of vegetables per week
3. Eat enough protein
So let’s break each of these down.
1. Eat the Rainbow everyday.
For the next month I want you to try and eat at least one of each colour of vegetable (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple). This does not mean to go out and eat every colour of skittle or jelly bean! The reason for this is that each different colour has different nutritional attributes. Yellow foods are often higher in Vitamin A, orange foods are associated with Vitamin C, and purple and reds are our antioxidants. By ensuring you’re eating a rainbow each day, means your getting a variety of all different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Here’s a snapshot of some foods of each colour.
Red – Tomato, cranberry, raspberry, chili, red capsicum
Orange – Oranges, mango, pumpkin, carrot, tumeric, sweet potato
Yellow – Pineapple, yellow capsicum, nashi pear, corn, button squash
Green – Green tea, rocket, spinach, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, parsley
Blue – Blueberry, blackberry
Purple – Beetroot, purple potato/sweet potato, eggplant, grapes, purple cabbage
So maybe take a moment and think about what colour you may be favouring, and what colour may be lacking from your diet. I think blue is a bit difficult, especially when blueberries aren’t in season. But just remember, we’re aiming for improvement, not perfection.
2. Eat 40 types per week.
Now this one can be a little tricky, but I love setting a good challenge! For this one, I want you to try and eat a total of 40 different types of fruits and vegetables over a week. At first glance, this seems impossible, but different colours of the same food count as different foods. For example, if you make a stir-fry with both purple and orange carrots, and red and yellow capsicum, you’ve got four of the forty done!
Once again, this challenge is all about maximising the variety of fruits and vegetables, which means a huge variety in the vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals you’re eating. This means a more diverse gut flora; and as we all now know; gut health is a corner stone to our overall health.
So for the first week, I encourage you to keep track of how many different types of fruits and vegetables you eat. In this challenge, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils) don’t count. After that first week of recording your tally, see if you can improve on it. It might be something as ‘simple’ as eating a Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathon, nashi pear and a Peckham pear, instead of just the same red apple everyday for a week. If you shop at a farmers market or a smaller supermarket chain, this is the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with them, and see if they can get in some purple cauliflower, or a romanesque!
3. Eat enough protein.
Protein has been getting a bit of heat recently. There’s been a big push in moving from less animal sources of protein for sustainability/environmental reasons, which has sparked a big conversation about how much protein we actually need.
Protein is so important in our diet as it performs so many functions in our bodies. Not only does it help us build and maintain muscle, but it also helps to support our immune system, regulate our energy and blood sugar levels, and can assist with hormones on as well. So, with all these functions, it’s important to know how much we should be having. Examine.com has a great break down of how much protein we should be aiming for based on factors such as sex, age, and lifestyle. You can check it out here
When I talk about protein in the diet, I approach it the same way I approach my fruits and vegetables – variety and moderation! My challenge for you this month is to look at your sources of protein; is there variety, or is it steak and chicken every day? There’s an abundance of protein in a well-balanced, whole-foods diet. Whilst animal sources are closer to the amino acid profile of humans, we can derive amino acids from plant based foods. Good plant-based sources include almonds, cashews, grains like quinoa and rice, and tofu. Eggs and full-fat Greek yogurt can also help get your protein intake up if you are needing to up your intake.
So this month is really about observing, recording, and adjusting. I think it’s important to take stock every now and then, and consciously look at what we are eating. Check in with yourself, and be honest. Is there enough variety? Are you perhaps in a food rut? Do you eat the same thing day in and day out? Remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about awareness and progress. Let’s see if by the next newsletter you’re eating 40 different fruits and vegetables per week!
Tag me on Instagram with #Uberhealth40 so I can see how you are going..