How to Stop Inflammation and Protect Your Heart in the Kitchen
We get a lot of questions about diets, nutrition, and cooking, so we have put together some general advice and resources to help you improve your diet. We will help guide you through what you should be eating and what you should avoid.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT?
You could bury yourself underneath a mountain of books selling fad diets that promise to change you in 30 days, melt away your fat, or any other promise that makes you want to believe them and pay them. The problem is that going on a diet is a temporary change that just forces you to follow a system without really teaching you how to improve your relationship to food and eating.
Focus on changing the way you live and how food fits into a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Try to eat as many and as many different kinds of vegetables as possible. This also inculdes sweet potatoes. A wide variety of plants provides essential nutrients and biodiversity. Limit fruit intake to avoid high amounts of sugar, try to eat a wide variety to provide your body with antioxidants.
“Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and some fruit” is better than “fruits and vegetables.”
MEAT AND FISH
Protein from meat should come from poultry and limited red meat. Fish, especially oily fish like salmon and sardines, are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Try to buy fish and meat as organic or wild caught, and not farm raised, as possible. Eggs are a great source of protein and good dietary cholesterol.
If you are on a strictly plant based diet, make sure that you are supplementing for the protein and nutrients you won't be getting from meat.
Make sure that you are consuming good fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. Saturated fats when consumed without high amounts of sugar in conjunction do not increase the risk of heart disease or make you fat! That’s sugar’s role!
WHAT SHOULD I AVOID?
Refined sugar is the biggest contributor to inflammation and insulin resistance in our diets. The increase in the amount of sugar that we consume on a daily basis has gotten to absurd and dangerous levels. Sugar is causing an obesity, diabetic, and chronic disease epidemic that could be avoided. This includes artificial sweeteners that still cause an insulin response and sugar cravings.
Highly processed breads, sweets, white potatoes, and processed snacks. These break down into sugar and spike your insulin. These food products are stripped of many of their parts that made them edible when they were whole plants and contain a wide variety of chemicals used to increase the shelf life of foods.
Do not drink beverages that have added sugar and acids. Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea and coffee drinks all have large amounts of added sugar both real and artificial. These drinks lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, obestity and tooth decay. Diet drinks raise insulin levels even without calories. You want low insulin levels.
Stick to eating whole and unprocessed foods. Added sugar and preservatives make these products “addictive” and lead to long term health problems. Needed nutrients are taken out in the process. Eat food, not food like substitutes.
WHAT ABOUT COOKING AND MEAL PREPARATION?
Meals should consist of and begin with whole foods that provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to maintain healthy body function and repair itself. How you prepare these foods also has an impact on how your body is going to respond to the food. Deep frying vegetables in processed hydrogenated oil is not going to provide a healthy meal.
Start simple with basic meals made from healthy ingredients. Start planning your meals around healthy options that are going to realistically fit into your lifestyle and allow you to consistently make good food choices. You can modify a lot of recipes to take out the bad parts, leave the good foods and still have the same taste. This is not about going on a short term diet to drop a few pounds, the idea is to change the way that you view food and your relationship to eating.
One of the keys is setting yourself up from the beginning to make healthy choices and not fall into a situation where you are choosing from only bad options. Make sure you have meals planned out with healthy choices from bringing lunches, to homemade dinners, or making sure you know what healthy options will be available if you are eating out. Taking the time to formulate a plan ahead of time will help you avoid bad decisions when you are hungry.
A huge part of the planning and decision making depends on something many people bring up, their ability and willingness to cook their food. We have heard every situation from I have never cooked before, I know someone who refuses to cook, or it takes too much time and costs to much to eat healthy. No matter what level of culinary skill you have, time spent planning and learning is an investment in your health and your future. Start simple with the resources you have, it may not lead to the most extravagant meals in the beginning but the health benefits are worth it. For those who are experienced in the kitchen, finding healthy recipes and modifying current ones will allow you to cook amazing meals that keep you healthy. If you are the type of person who refuses to cook then you are going to have to put in the effort to find healthy options, find healthy meal delivery services or rely on those around you, but this is most likely not going to be the easiest or cost effective option.
In the next section we will start providing resources for all types of situations.
COOKING RESOURCES AND RECIPES
We will update and add links to different nutrition sources, recipe sites, and cooking resources.