Embarking on a journey to better health through nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. In fact, it can be remarkably simple to include healthy eating in your lifestyle.

We’ll unravel the art of “Healthy Eating Made Easy” by introducing you to the 5Rs of Optimum Nutrition.

The subject of food and nutrition can get very complex, given the shift in dietary trends, ever-evolving nutritional guidelines and conflicting scientific research results. However, It becomes difficult to judge what constitutes a healthy diet. For your individual dietary needs and health status. You may need to consult with your physician or dietician. However regardless of your nutritional beliefs and dietary preferences or restrictions, using the 5R rule can help you make eating healthy simple and easy.

The 5 Rs of eating well are as follows- Keep it RealReduce exposure to chemicals , Reduce sugar intake, Remove trans fats and Ramp up the Phytonutrients.

Keep It Real

Real foods:

Whole foods are foods from nature whose nutrients have not been stripped by refining or processing. These not only include fruits, veggies, and whole grains in their natural form but also dairy, eggs and meat. They should be minimally processed and where the cattle or poultry were allowed to roam in their natural habitat. Processed foods are not real food. They are food-like substances which lack the enzymes that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Processes food

Fruit juice that has been processed and pasteurized and then fortified with artificial Vitamin C is not the same as fruit juice. A fresh squeezed orange which retains not only the natural vitamin C but also all the synergistic flavonoid complex. These are needed for the proper absorption and assimilation of Vitamin C in the body.  In addition to this, processed foods are laden with chemicals and artificial ingredients along with added sugar and salt. These play a major role in contributing towards chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. In the words of Dr. Mark Hyman, “ Why do we believe that we can feed our bodies manufactured, nutrient depleted, food like substances, empty of all life and yet remain healthy?

How did we come to believe that industrial chemicals and processing could replace what nature produces?”. When it comes to diet, a whole foods nutrient dense diet is key. Shopping with your local farmer or the produce section of the grocery store will help keep most of your meal menu real.

Reduce Chemical Exposure

The nutritional paradigm is shifting from focus on calories to focus on nutritional value and purity of food. Reducing processed, artificial, and chemical laden food-like substances and pesticide exposure is imperative to healthy living. Eating real foods all the time is ideal; however, the complications of overly busy lifestyles tempt us towards convenience – the bait used by the food industry.

So, what can we do for those times when avoiding processed foods is not an option?

Some brands are opting out of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. Become an avid label reader. The list of dirty dozen additives to avoid  has been published by the EWG and you can access it at here. The list is for your reference. However, when you go shopping. The simplest practice you can adopt, in this regard, is to read the ingredient list always. Avoid the food product if sugar is in the top three list of ingredients. Also avoid them, If the ingredient list is long (more than three or four ingredients ) and if it is hard to pronounce the ingredient names. Avoid processed meats which often contain nitrates and nitrites, which increase the risk for developing cancer.

The best way to avoid high levels of pesticide exposure is to buy local, seasonal, and organic, when possible.

Remove or Reduce Sugar

With obesity and diabetes on the rise, the alarm has been sounding on the ill effects of sugar for some time now. Weight gain and insulin resistance, complications that arise from diabetes such as kidney failure, blindness, secondary infections can all be attributed to higher blood sugar levels. However, this is not the only problem that sugar poses.

Did you know that post high sugar consumption the immune system can remain depressed for a few hours, making you more prone to infections?

You may not use straight table sugar but it can sneak in very easily. It turns out that condiments and sugary beverages-sodas and fruit juices are the major culprit. A can of soda alone exceeds all of the allowed dietary sugar intake per day (~40g or ten teaspoons per nondiabetic adult per day).  Consider replacing sodas with simple sparkling water (interim solution) or fermented drinks, loaded with gut friendly probiota.

If fruit juices are difficult to give up-consider diluting these. If you have diabetes, please consider removing these completely or consult with your dietician for options. Always read all labels on cereals, breads and condiments and salad dressings, fruit yogurts-choosing <5grams per serving when possible-surprisingly the sugar grams can add up fast- also avoid artificial sweeteners; honey is ok but do not overdo it.

Remove Trans Fats- Give Yourselves an Oil Change

Trans fats aka partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are commonly found in chips, cookies, fried foods and packaged foods. A label on a bag of chips that says, “no trans-fat” can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Giving yourself and oil change involves removing any foods from your kitchen cabinet that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Margarine and coffee creamers being the worst offenders, and not being afraid to consume some ghee from cows that were raised on pasture.

According to a Harvard Health publication:

There never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Making the switch was a well-intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter. But it overlooked the dangers of trans fats. You can read more details here. Indeed, butter or ghee from grass fed cows, is a very nutrient dense food. However, just like any other fat, portion control is always a good idea.

Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is still the oil of choice for sautéing. For high temperature cooking coconut oil, grass fed cow butter, sesame oil, peanut oils and more recently avocado oil may be better choices.  However, it is best to avoid high temperature cooking, such as frying, as it produces free radicals which are agents of inflammation.

Refined vegetable oils are also best avoided as they have not only been stripped of nutritional value but often produce higher levels of free radicals when heated. However, If you have any medical condition like high blood pressure or heart disease, please consult with your physician on which cooking oil or fat is best for you.

Ramp Up the Phytonutrients

Phytochemicals or phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that protect the plant from disease and have the same effect on humans when consumed. These compounds are key in fighting inflammation and are your single most ally in warding off disease and delaying degenerative ageing processes.

Phytonutrients give fruits and vegetables their deep rich colors and these natural colors are what is being referred to when you hear the term “eat the rainbow”. The easiest way to include these in your diet is to remember 3S- Salads, Smoothies and Spices. If you have diabetes, please bear in mind that straight fruit smoothies can cause spike in sugar levels. Consider adding some fiber or healthy fats like nuts or flax or pumpkin seeds to your smoothies, along with greens and apples.

In conclusion, we have a food for thought: Eating healthy can be easy. Consider what is at the end of your fork?  Is it feeding disease or fighting it?

Healthy Eating FAQs

Q1: What is Healthy Eating all about?

Healthy Eating Made Easy is a practical approach to better nutrition. It’s as simple as including more fruits, like berries and apples, in your daily diet.

Q2: Can you give me some practical tips to start eating healthily today?

Of course! Begin by swapping out soda for refreshing water infused with slices of lemon or cucumber. Small changes add up!

Q3: Does eating healthily mean I’ll have to break the bank?

Not at all. You can save by buying whole grains like brown rice in bulk or choosing frozen veggies when fresh isn’t available.

Q4: Where can I find delicious recipes that align with these principles?

Our blogs feature recipes like a hearty vegetable stir-fry or a tasty, homemade vegetable soup. Nutritious and delightful! You can click here to get access to some delicious recipes.

Q5: How can I get my family, especially the kids, to enjoy healthy meals?

Sneak in some fun by making fruit smoothies together. It’s a great way to introduce kids to nutritious foods without them even realizing it. You can click here to get access to some delicious recipes.

Q6: Where do I start if I want to make my meals healthier and easier?

Start with simple changes, like swapping butter for olive oil in your cooking or trying out a new recipe with colorful, fresh ingredients.

Q7: Are there specific foods I should include more of in my diet?

Absolutely. Foods like leafy greens (spinach and kale) and nuts (almonds and walnuts) can be easy additions to boost your nutrition.

Q8: Can you share some practical advice on portion control?

Sure, one handy tip is to use smaller plates. It helps control portion sizes and prevents overeating.

Q9: How can I embrace mindful eating and savor my meals more?

Try turning off the TV or putting away your phone during mealtime. It encourages you to focus on your food and savor the flavors. For more tips, you can read our mindful eating blog here.

Q10: Where can I find more mouthwatering recipes and guidance for “Healthy Eating Made Easy”?

You’ll discover an abundance of delicious recipes and valuable insights in our blog. Stay tuned for regular updates, practical advice, and a taste of a healthier lifestyle.

Please note that the content of this blog post seeks to educate and inform. If you are under a physician’s care, you must not make any dietary changes without their approval as some foods can interfere with your medications. Also, if you have any medical conditions, please consult with a registered dietician for individual advice.

We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you’re seeking personalized nutritional guidance, our nutritionist is ready to assist you.