For many people, healthy eating is challenging. New reports come out daily saying to eat this and not that, making it tough to know what the best choices are. But it doesn't have to be that way.
“Eating well doesn't have to be complicated, expensive or difficult, and it has a profound effect on your well-being and the well-being of the planet,” says Mark Hyman, MD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
It's this philosophy that drives Dr. Hyman's new book, FOOD: What the Heck Should I Eat? In it, he explores how food impacts your health, the environment and our economy. He shares his opinions on major food topics, like whether cow's milk is good for you, and if red meat causes cancer.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from FOOD: What the Heck Should I Eat?, plus ways to incorporate some of Dr. Hyman's principles into your own diet.
EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET IS POSSIBLE—PROMISE!
One of the biggest food myths is that eating healthy costs a lot of money. And while price often depends on where you shop, eating real food can slash your spending, especially in comparison to eating out.
“A simple dinner for a family of four consisting of roasted chicken, vegetables and salad can cost about half of what dinner at a fast food restaurant would,” Hyman says in a blog post.
He suggests focusing on high-quality food (not necessarily the most expensive) in the following categories: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and proteins like chicken and fish. Here are some of the things he recommends for eating on a budget:
FOOD IS MEDICINE
“Increasing evidence shows us that food is the most powerful ‘drug' we have not just to prevent, but also treat, cure and reverse most chronic illnesses,” Hyman explains in his blog.
When you eat whole, healthy foods, your body responds differently than it does when you fuel it with junk. “It turns out that the quality of the food you eat matters, and that if you drink 1,800 calories of Pepsi or eat 1,800 calories of almonds, it has very different effects on your biology, in terms of hormones, inflammation, gene expression and your microbiome.”
There's science behind this idea. High-quality foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, for example, can nourish your brain and protect it from “waste” or free radicals. On the flip side, diets full of refined sugars can actually encourage free radicals and inflammation.
Certain chronic conditions can be better managed with the help of a healthy diet, too. For instance:
The bottom line? While food can't necessarily replace doctor-prescribed medicine, a diet rich in fresh produce and healthy sources of protein can have a positive impact on your health.
FOLLOW THE RULES FOR EACH FOOD CATEGORY
Different food categories have different rules, according to Hyman, and he suggests knowing the basics about buying and consuming foods in each category. For example, when it comes to meat, Hyman says you should look for grass-fed or organic options and avoid processed meats like deli ham, sausage, bacon and salami.
That's not all: Hyman gives recommendations for 11 more categories in FOOD: What the Heck Should I Eat?, including nuts, seafood, beans and beverages.KEEP MEAL PREP SIMPLE
During week the the name of the game is quick, easy, with minimal cleanup. One of the biggest time savers is planning, grocery shopping, and prepping hard-to-cut meats and veggies over the weekend.
Stir-frying, roasting and broiling are easy ways to prepare just about anything. Looking for a recipe? Here’s one from FOOD: What the Heck Should I Eat?, ready in 25 minutes or less:
Skillet Tofu With Broccoli and Peppers
Serves 4FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
The most important thing to remember about food: you should find a plan that works for you and your family, your dietary needs and your lifestyle. Ideally, it will be made up of simple, whole foods that don’t require much thought.
"Eating healthy is about piling up on the veggies and avoiding lots of refined sugars, flours and processed food," says Hyman. "And I like to put it this way: eat what God made, not what Man made.”
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