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Back to Basics


Creating optimal health through nutrition is basically a two-fold approach. It is a matter of stopping unhealthy behavior and increasing healthy behavio.

Creating optimal health through nutrition is basically a two-fold approach. It is a matter of stopping unhealthy behavior and increasing healthy behavior. This combination of protecting ourselves against the onset of disease by avoiding the nutritional pitfalls that contribute to its development and increasing our intake of nutritious, whole foods is another step towards better health.

PDF of U.S. Dietary Fat (Table and Cooking Sources)

PDF of U.S. Dietary Fat (Animal and Vegetarian Sources)

It is not uncommon to get hooked on junk food. Processed food manufacturers use hundreds of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other additives to make you think that you are eating something good. Over time, the natural appetite can be thwarted by years of eating artificial, highly-processed foods, but appetites can be retrained to enjoy the natural, subtle flavors of whole foods.

Getting back to basics starts with retraining your tastebuds. Traditional diets consisted of whole grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables, wild game, fish, nuts, seeds and eggs. A healthy body naturally desires these same nutritious whole foods. The diversity of flavors in natural foods will convert you to a more wholesome diet. Once you have eliminated all of the wrong foods, you are halfway there and your appreciation for the taste of real food will return.

The following basic guidelines will help you to make the transition to better eating habits.

1. Decrease overall fat consumption

  • Limit your total fat intake to between fifteen and twenty-five percent of your daily caloric intake for optimal physiological function
  • Use cold-pressed, unrefined vegetable oils rich in essential fatty acids
  • Eliminate the use of hydrogenated fats such as margarine and vegetable shortening, as well as beef fat; use butter and cold-pressed oils instead
  • Good sources of essential fatty acids include cold-water fish, soy beans, cold-pressed flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil and sesame oil

2. Eat less animal-source proteins and more vegetable-source proteins

  • Combine legumes with whole grains and nuts and seeds to increase their protein value

3. Restrict refined sugar intake

  • Use honey, maple syrup, fruit juices and molasses

4. Increase intake of high fiber foods

  • Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are loaded with soluble and insoluble fibers
  • Meat and oils contain no fiber

5. Replace refined grains with whole grains

  • Use brown rice instead of white
  • Use stoneground wholegrain flours instead of refined white flour
  • Choose wholegrain cereals instead of refined cereals

6. Go organic

  • Choose organically grown foods whenever possible
  • Avoid the health risks associated with the use of toxic sprays
  • Buying organically grown foods protects the environment
  • Buy from local, organic food sources whenever possible
  • Avoid the health risks associated with the agricultural use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides

7. Avoid refined foods that contain additives and artificial ingredients

  • Choose natural, whole foods
  • Use fresh vegetables instead of canned and frozen

8. Eat a wide variety of unrefined, whole foods

  • Choose from a selection of whole grains, beans and legumes, soy foods, cultured yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, sea vegetables

9. Increase your intake of raw fruits and vegetables

  • Eat at least three servings a day of a variety of vegetables including dark leafy greens
  • Eat 2-4 servings a day of fresh, raw fruit
  • Eat a raw vegetable salad daily
  • Learn to grow sprouts at home and eat a serving daily

10. Avoid overcooking

  • Lightly steam or saute vegetables to retain the nutritional value
  • Make a significant portion of your diet raw foods

11. Decrease your intake of salt (sodium chloride)

  • Use herbs and spices for seasoning
  • Try using sea vegetables for salt substitute
  • Eat raw fruits and vegetables instead of salty snacks

12. Increase your soy intake

  • Learn to use tofu, tempeh and miso
  • Choose tofu-source weiners, deli slices and burgers
  • Use more soy milk and yogurt

13. Add sea vegetables to your diet

  • Develop a taste for seaweeds such as nori, wakame, hijiki, kelp and dulse
  • Add sea vegetables to soups, salads, casseroles
  • Try eating dulse as an occasional snack food

14. If you eat meat...

  • Reduce your overall intake of meat, especially beef
  • Choose organic sources whenever possible
  • Choose lean cuts and remove all visible fat
  • Eat a large vegetable salad first
  • Broil, don't fry

15. Include naturally fermented foods in your diet

  • Learn to make your own yogurt, kefir, quark and sauerkraut
  • Use fermented dairy products instead of milk
  • Add unpasteurized fermented soy bean paste (miso) to sauces, gravies, soups and stews after cooking (heat destroys the friendly bacteria)


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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD