When I speak with patients about nutrition, whether they are looking for help with weight loss, cognitive health, metabolic health, or even productivity in the workplace, I always talk about the five pillars of nourishment. Each of the five pillars forms an important part of our overall health, so paying attention to and implementing the ideas behind these five pillars is a key part of reaching your health goals.
In today’s post, I want to discuss the first pillar of nourishment: diet.
Diet Is Not a Dirty Word
I want to start off by emphasizing that the word “diet” has been hijacked by American culture to mean something that it truly shouldn’t. When we think of the word “diet” today, we think of something restrictive. We think of fad diets. Feeling hungry. Zero carbs.
But the word diet does not mean restriction, it simply refers to what we eat. Just as a cow’s diet is plant-based, a human’s diet consists of both plants and meat.
When we view the word in this way, we are letting go of that concept of restriction, which is important. Restriction affects our psychology negatively; when you tell yourself you can’t have something, it is instinctual to want more of it. If we instead approach diet from a place of abundance, eating so much of what serves us that there is little room, space, or desire for that which does not, we can improve what we eat without those negative feelings.
Watch Your Macronutrients
I believe in eating a balanced diet; that is, once which has a little of everything needed to keep you healthy. Keeping a balanced diet includes making sure your body is receiving the macronutrients that is needs.
Protein is shown to help suppress hunger hormones while also preserving muscle mass. Especially during weight loss, getting adequate amounts of protein is essential to maintain your muscle mass and your metabolism so that your body will continue to burn calories.
You should aim to get 20-30 grams of protein per meal.
I am not a believer of no-carb diets. While breads, cereals, pastas, and sugar are indeed simple carbs which promote cravings, under the large umbrella of carbohydrates are also vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and legumes. Many of these items contain other nutrients, such as B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Making sure you consume complex carbohydrates will result in a steady rise in blood sugar, reducing cravings and hunger.
Don’t Worry About Limiting
Again, restriction affects our psychology negatively, so I don’t limit the amount of what people consume, particularly with protein and vegetables. Rather, I recommend eating as much protein as you want and then doubling that amount in vegetables. Veggies are super high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and are basically free nutrients, so eat them up.
If you eat an abundance of things that are good for you, you should find that you have less room for those that are not.
Other Diet Tips
In addition to watching macronutrients, I recommend more whole foods and fewer processed foods. Whole foods suppress hunger hormones better than processed foods will, leaving you feeling fuller longer.
You should also make sure that you are adequately hydrated. This is good for your skin and your cellular health and metabolism. I don’t recommend a certain amount of water per day, as everyone is different, but making sure you are drinking enough that you need to go to the bathroom regularly and that your urine is clear-ish should keep you hydrated.