BALANCED EATING WITH NATURALLY NOURISHED By Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE
Non-Starchy Vegetables: these are rich in fiber and antioxidants to aid in protecting DNA from damage. Aim for a variety of colors to obtain the variety of benefits offered in each bioflavinoid of the phytocompounds (plant-based compounds). The non-starchy vegetables will be lowest in calories and highest in volume allowing you to feel a sense of fullness without breaking your calorie bank. These vegetables are separated from those that are starchy as the non-starchy family has minimal impact on blood sugar.
Aim for at least 50% of your plate to come from non-starchy vegetables which may be 2-4 cups per meal.
This can be easily done at lunches and dinners by adding a side salad, vegetable soup, or sautéed, roasted, grilled vegetables as a side. In breakfast meals consider adding vegetables to your eggs, leafy greens to your smoothies, and incorporate savory vegetable sides at all meals such as stewed tomatoes, miso soup, etc.!
Sulfur-containing foods (cruciferous and alliums) and mushrooms: of the non-starchy vegetable group, the cruciferous items (bok choy, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts) have additional anti-tumorigenic compounds indole-3-carbinoles (I3C) which aid in detoxification and excretion of toxins in the body, therefore protecting your cells. The sulfur in the allium family (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks) aids in detoxification and maintaining cell health. Mushrooms have demonstrated effects on aromatase enzyme, which decreases the availability of estrogen in the body, playing a role in reduction of estrogen-based cancers.
Aim for at least 2 cups a day coming from these cancer-fighting superfoods!
Try to make these present on every plate (almost every dish can benefit from garlic and onions)!
Fruits: these carbohydrates are a great source of natural sugars for taming sugar cravings while providing a wholesome delivery of antioxidant support. Fresh fruits are also high in water content, making them a great addition on your plate for volume without dense calorie impact.
Select a variety of colors to get optimal bioflavonoid support.
Choose berries as a low-glycemic option that has demonstrated the ability to stop the production of blood vessels to tumors, starving them off!
Aim for 1 cup of fruit at meals or snacks.
If selecting fruits as your snack options, choose a different carbohydrate on your meal plate such as beans, whole grains, or starchy vegetables.
Protein: make sure your meals have a protein source to support your lean body mass, rebuilding of tissue in the body, and boost metabolism. Some protein containing foods may be otherwise classified based on their dominant composition of calories; however these will still add into your daily protein needs and can contribute to balancing your plate. This will be seen through foods with *asterisks such as beans (carbohydrate with protein), nuts/seeds (healthy fats with protein). If you are looking for vegetarian sources that are comprised mostly of protein, you may consider soy.
Select soy foods that are available in their whole form and are fermented and/or sprouted for optimal absorption of nutrients.
In addition to the protein-containing vegetarian sources, a balanced diet can be composed of animal proteins in moderation. Choose animal proteins that are wild, grass-fed, and free of hormones and antibiotics for the most anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense sources such as: wild fish, buffalo, grass-fed beef/pork/lamb, pasture-raised chicken, pasture-raised eggs, strained plain organic yogurt, and cheese. Of your animal protein sources, limit red meat (pork, beef, buffalo, lamb) to 8 oz/week as these foods correlate higher risk for colon cancer. Also, ensure meats are non-processed and free of binders, fillers, nitrates, and additives which increase risk for cancer.
Aim for 2-4 oz of protein per meal based on your calorie/protein gram needs.
Please note, 7g of protein equals 1 oz. The 2-4 oz per meal can be achieved in a Greek yogurt, 2 eggs, a 1.5 cups of a black bean soup, or 4 oz piece of wild salmon.
Starches: these foods are made up of predominantly carbohydrates which will provide a quick source of energy and have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Starches are coming from starchy vegetables (yams, potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash, etc.), legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc), and grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc). Try to choose whole single ingredient foods where possible as opposed to refined grains and products of grains such as flours and flour-based foods. For glycemic index we want to be aware of our total carbohydrate intake per meal. If using a starch as our protein (i.e. black beans) we want to fill the remainder of the plate with free vegetables and healthy fats rather than additional carbohydrate foods from other starches and/or fruits. For example, increase the volume of your black beans by adding 2 cups of baby spinach and “fajita” vegetables (peppers, onions, garlic), and salsa, topped with avocado (healthy fat) for a balanced approach rather than adding tortillas, rice, and chips which would be too high of a glycemic index and lacking nutrient balance.
Aim for 1/2-1 1/2 cups per meal.
Quality fats: these foods are vital for optimal hormonal function, energy stores, neurotransmitter production, and brain function. Choose from whole food forms such as olives, coconut, nuts/seeds over oils where possible. Use cold-pressed oils for dressings and appropriate options for heat based on the “smoke point” or temperature threshold of each fat. Fats are important to include in your meals as they regulate satiety or feeling of satisfaction at meals, provide flavor, and help to make the nutrients in some vegetables more available or absorbable in the body. Since fats are calorie dense we want to be mindful of our portions.
Aim for 1-2 tsp of oil/butter or 1/4 cup nuts/seeds/olives/avocado at meals.
Mindful indulgences: it is important to enjoy the foods that you consume and look at your diet as a source of abundance for your body rather than a form of restriction or deprivation. Incorporating mindful indulgences is a successful approach to wellness and making balanced eating a life-long pursuit. These will vary in composition, size, flavor, etc. and will be an important role in mixing up your meal plan. Mindful indulgences can be a savory marinade or an otherwise unclassified food serving as a bridge of flavor for your plate, making your meals more sensory and fulfilling. Or they can be an addition to your plate such as a sweet. Take note of how the mindful indulgence section of your plate is a piece that can be added or removed and this will vary based on your mood, stress levels, hunger vs. satiety, and wellness goals; however the awareness of mindfulness practice should be present at every meal. What this “slice of the pie” is made up of is up to you and what will satisfy your taste buds and promote health at the same time.
Allow yourself 1-2 indulgences daily and be mindful at every meal!
5 SUPER FOODS THAT FIGHT DISEASE
Onions, Garlic, Chives, Shallots, Leeks, and Scallions: These foods are rich in potent flavinoids that produce an antioxidant, Glutathione, used to detoxify the body from nutritional, environmental, and biological toxins and carcinogens. These foods can aid in the production of Natural Killer cells that combat tumors and infections. Power member garlic is also antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial. Alliums can be added to the diet in soups, salads, slaws to increase savory flavors or add a kick.
Blueberries: All berries are great choice for a snack providing fiber and rich with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanidins which have the ability to neutralize free radical damage, enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillaries, and are cardio protective. Another way in which blueberries are a super food is through their anti-inflammatory effects which can protect against multiple disease states. Research has demonstrated their ability to reduce oxidative stress in the brain. Blueberries are sweet flavor boost to any smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, or eaten alone as a snack!
Peppers: Spicy foods tend to be powerful detoxifying agents as they induce the cleansing process of perspiration, but spicy peppers are super foods because they are rich in capsaicin a flavinoid that is anti-inflammatory, reduces headaches, relieves pain, is anti-carcinogenic and heart healthy. Peppers also have more vitamin C than citrus fruits and contribute a rich source of carotenoids. Peppers are a beautiful addition to salads, soups, stews, salsa, and any food that would benefit from a kick!
Yogurt: is thriving with probiotics, living beneficial bacteria, which are able to colonize in the gut to eliminate negative bacteria, protect the body from viruses, destroy mutated cells, limit inflammation, promote optimal digestion, increase production and absorption of vitamins. Yogurt can be eaten as a healthy snack or added to oatmeal and smoothies.
Additional Superfoods to include in your diet: leafy greens, broccoli, berries, walnuts, pasture eggs (EPA/DHA), wild salmon, sweet potatoes, kiwi, sunchokes, quinoa, buckwheat, almonds, beans, and always go for a rainbow on your plate to ensure a variety!
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