"What foods are healthy?"
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, what with so many self-appointed experts declaring this and that food to be bad. If half the things you read are true, then fats are bad, but carbs are bad too, and too much protein is bad, and seafood has mercury…
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Well, here is a list of what foods are healthy, generally, for everybody. No particular macronutirent is demonized or approved - these are simply general rules that will allow you to choose and eat the foods that are healthiest for you.
And enjoying your food is healthy ;-)
What foods are healthy? They are…
Anything fresh is immediately superior to foods that aren't. Why? That's how nature works.
As a case study, lets take the common Twinkie. This small snack cake will never go bad, and has a better chance of surviving The Rapture unchanged than you do. It is never (or always) fresh, will never go bad, and will do about nothing for your health - aside from give you some fast sugar for energy, and add some petroleum and corn byproducts to your body.
On the other hand, we have a cut of freshly caught sockeye salmon. Which, left unfrozen, will attract microbes and other scavengers and go bad (i.e. get eaten by bacteria, fungus, and other microbes).
These same microbes will leave a Twinkie alone. They know more than we do - they won't eat something that's crap.
The fresher something is, the better. And if it's fresh, it's probably...
Unprocessed is also good. The fewer additives and layers of plastic between you and the food, the better.
Power bars, diet drinks, and other 'meal replacement' items are not actually meals. They are not food.
Meal replacements are food-like objects, much like a zombie is a human-like object. And even zombies have the sense to feed on un-processed humans - and not each other.
Eating a variety of foods is healthy as well as tasty. Fruits are delicious, but eating pears day in and day out will make you hate them - and I don't even like pears.
The more different things you have in your diet, the better. Not necessarily at every meal - the more options you have at a meal, the more you tend to eat - but you should not limit your diet.
If you asked, "What foods are healthy?", determined that your best choice was salmon and lettuce (or whatever), and then ate only that food… That wouldn't be healthy.
Yes, all three macronutrients. You may have heard that carbs or fats (or even proteins) are bad for your. Horse feathers!
You may eat different kinds of foods at different times for different effects. I myself favor a low-carb diet for losing weight, high protein for putting on muscle, and fat because it tastes good and gets my body in the habit of metabolizing fat for fuel.
And a balanced protein/fat/carb diet when I'm not focused on anything in particular.
Eat a variety of foods from a variety of sources. There is no demon food group - just tradeoffs.
There, that's it. Eat that stuff, cooked in a variety of ways and styles (or uncooked), and you'll be healthy.
OK, OK, that's a bit simplistic - but it's also a good pace to start. If you stick to these guys, you'll be well on your way to eating much healthier.
This list reflects my bias for a grain free diet. This is a personal preference, and grains certainly won't kill you. But I think you should take a second look at them and possibly cut them from your diet.
Healthy foods must be tasty. You will not eat healthy food if it tastes like bland with bland in bland sauce with a side of bland. And it doesn't have to be!
Use spices and herbs. Try a variety of meats and seafood (veal, grass-fed beef, crab, dover sole, sockeye, king, and chinook salmon). Try different dipping sauces.
To answer the "What foods are healthy?" question, you need to like them too. Otherwise there's no point because you won't eat them.
No food is inherently evil or good - even when you're thinking about what foods are healthy. Even the common Twinkie has a noble use: If you were starving, it would be preferable to eat it rather than nothing.
And Twinkies can taste pretty good ;-)
But there's a whole scope of foods out there. Make the right choices 85-90% of the time and the other 10-15% of it won't matter much.
And don't forget to indulge in something unhealthy once in a while - and dark chocolate doesn't count! Eat healthy, and then have fun on your birthday, Christmas, and other holidays. The healthy eating will make the junk that much sweeter!
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
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