Before we look at eating healthy foods, such as a well balanced breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a few simple rules that apply to any meal should be established.
We need to come to terms with the quantities, but it is clearly not an option to walk around with food scales in our back pack. It is not necessary either: eye measure can be a big help, and we can look at the size of the palm of our hand.
We start with a serving of lean protein. It should not be larger than the palm of our hand(some people relate to the size of a deck of cards, which is ok too.)This also applies to the thickness.The protein foods, which are lean, would be skinned chicken breast, turkey breast(also without skin), lean beef, soya protein, tofu, egg white, fish, or cottage cheese.
The other 2/3 of the plate are filled with low-density carbohydrate foods. Our choice would be vegetables, salad greens, mushrooms. The variety is large!Root vegetables(potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots)also starchy vegetables like squash should be used sparingly. The high-density carbohydrate foods like pasta, bread, buns, crackers, or rice are best avoided.
You do need a small portion of fat. It can come from two teaspoons of olive oil, alternatively you can add 6 olives, 2 teaspoons of slivered almonds, a small slice of avocado or a large macadamia nut.
A piece of fruit completes the meal.The choices are abundant: 1 cup of strawberries, alternatively a small orange, an apple or 1/4 cantaloupe. You will want to restrict the intake of very sweet fruit varieties like papaya, mango, or banana. Dried fruit are not a fruit portion,as they are very high in sugar. They are best treated like a condiment.
This approach will leave you with a nicely filled plate and a full stomach.What is even better is the fact, that this type of meal will keep you energetic and without any hunger pangs for 4 to 5 hours. When we review this model, we’ll notice that we are dealing with a wide variety of foods with lots of flavour and texture. It is also perfectly “real” food: no special diet products are needed. It is all readily available at your regular supermarket. Finally we have to take note that highly processed foods and sugar-laden products are not part of the list.
You will wonder: now what’s wrong with a breakfast of orange juice, a bowl of corn flakes in milk and a coffee?If you take a closer look, it becomes clear that you are getting a lot of high density carbohydrates (in the corn flakes) and a significant amount of sugar (in the orange juice). The small amount of protein in the milk is unproportionally small, and beneficial fats are missing. The result: three hours later or even earlier you will be as hungry as before. You’ll find that your mental focus is poor too, and you’ll reach for – you guessed it- another source of sugar and starches, probably a muffin.
The reason is simple: you get hunger pangs because your blood sugar levels have dropped to a low, and your insulin levels are high, as you did not get the protein and fat, which you needed. Your meal was too high in dense carbs. Fine, you say. Let’s try this one: I’ll have a plate full of scrambled eggs and bacon.
Never mind the toast, and I’ll skip the cereal too. Again you will experience significant hunger after about three hours.
The cereal breakfast led to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar at three hours) and now without carbohydrates you are at the same spot with hunger for sweets or muffins and mental confusion, because you are running out of blood sugar. Again you are experiencing low insulin levels, as you did not get the carbohydrates you needed. So things are not in balance.
Contrary to this, if you ate a meal that had a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you’ll not be subject to hunger pangs and cravings after just a few hours. Also your mental focus will stay clear, and your energy levels will be adequate. In the beginning it is perhaps a bit cumbersome to change your food intake pattern. A self hypnosis cassette regarding weight loss can be useful in that regard to reinforce your new habit of a balanced food intake. Listen to such a weight loss tape perhaps on a daily basis until you have internalized your new habit.
Besides keeping your nutrients balanced, it is crucial to your well being, that your body gets enough fluids. Keep in mind that 70 % of your body is water.You excrete water through breathing, through sweating, as well as through elimination of urine and feces. Water can be only replaced by you. Drink spring water or other purified water. You will want to avoid chlorinated water, if it’s only for the reason that it does not taste good! You’ll probably drink more in a warmer climate, but 2 litres (about 64 oz) are a good daily intake. Carry a water bottle when you are on the go.
When it comes down to the overview on healthy eating habits, things do not sound flashy or glamorous, but very plain and a tad old-fashioned. When you visited with your favorite aunt or your grandmother, they might have told you the same:
Facts your parents already knew
Chew your food, don’t just wolf it down.Five small meals are better than 2 huge feeds.Eat your vegetables, they are good for you.Drink your water.
There is nothing wrong with porridge (oats) for breakfast.
Yes, you should take your cod liver oil (a yucky experience in the past, now available in the form of fish oil capsules).
A model for a healthy nutritional day
Without going into the complex biochemistry of nutrients, a model for one day will follow. There is room for 3 meals and 2 snacks.
Breakfast: 2/3 cup of rolled oats mixed with 1 small grated apple and 8 oz. (250 ml) of 1 % milk or soy milk. Add 1 scoop of protein powder and top with 2 teaspoons of slivered almonds. Coffee, tea, herb tea or water.
Lunch: 3 1/2 oz. (100 g) of roasted chicken breast (or sliced turkey breast roast), 2 cups of romaine lettuce and 1 sliced tomato with balsamic vinaigrette with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. 1/4 cantaloupe.
Afternoon snack: 4 oz. (125 ml) low fat yogourt with a chopped up large macadamia nut and 1/2 cup of grapes.Dinner: Stir-fry with 2 cups of beansprouts, 4 green onions, 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1/2 green or red pepper. Use 2 teasp. olive oil for stir-frying and add 4 oz. (110 g) of salmon pieces. Season with ginger and soy sauce.For dessert: 1 mandarin orange.
Late night snack: 1/2 cup 1% or 2% cottage cheese and 1/2 orange cut into chunks, 4 slivered almonds sprinkled on top.
Another snack, which you may enjoy instead of the late night snack, could be 3 oz. wine and 1 oz. cheese.
Even with a busy schedule healthy eating can be part of your day (and they should! You need the energy to get through the day). One approach which is easy and certainly very economical is packing your lunch and bringing it to work. But due to busy schedules and time constraints a high proportion of meals are consumed in restaurants.With this type of meal structure you will not feel deprived or on edge, as with a properly balanced food intake, hunger pangs will become a thing of the past. You will however enjoy the benefits of feeling more energetic, and very likely get rid of the mid-morning carbo cravings or the mid-afternoon slump.
If you enjoyed these recipes you may want to read about more in my book (Ref.9).
1. B. Sears: “The age-free zone”.Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2000. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
2. B. Sears: “Zone perfect meals in minutes”. Regan Books, Harper Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
3. B.J. Wilcox, D.C. Willcox and M. Suzuki: “The Okinawa Program.” Clarkson Potter,2001, N.Y., U.S.A.
4. E.L. Rossi: The psychobiology of mind-body healing. Norton &Co., 1986, N.Y., U.S.A.
5. Vitamins and Foods. Audio-Digest Family Practice Vol 49, Issue 29, Aug.7, 2001.
6. P.C. McGraw: Life strategies. 1999, Simon&Schuster Source, N.Y., U.S.A.
7. B. Sears: “The top 100 zone foods”. Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2001. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
8. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness– Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008
9. Dr. Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging” , Amazon 2014.