Most see "diet" as an ugly word that translates into an undesirable shift from the unhealthy but palatable processed foods that make up the majority (if not all) of your current meal regimen, to a much less palatable and surprisingly (but not really) not much healthier selection of processed foods; often consisting of pre-made meals, shakes, bars, and other "approved" snacks.
*The problem with this, other than the fact that you are replacing processed foods with processed foods, is that the word "diet" symbolizes work or an undesirable and subsequently unachievable goal; you have to stop thinking of diet as homework!
*Another common misconception and poor assumption health-wise is that protein is the most important food source, automatically labeling all other food on your plate a "side-dish". This is not the case... In fact Complex Carbohydrates are by far the most important part of a healthy diet (Vegetables, Grains, Legumes) and should make up at least 65% of your daily caloric intake. Due to their chemical make-up they're broken down by the body into simple sugars SLOWLY therefore maintaining better blood sugar control.
*That means that Proteins and Fats, although very crucial to a healthy diet and nearly equally important, should only make up about 35% of your daily intake of calories. One important note here is that the complex carbohydrates listed above can and are good sources of protein, which is why that piece of steak or chicken or pork does not have to take up three quarters of your plate. Another important note is that although animal sources of protein (beef primarily) get a bad rap due to the content of saturated fats (fats that are solid at room temperature), you will find as I have that Grass Fed Beef is very lean as they should be; so much so that its recommended you coat them with olive oil prior to grilling.
- The most important part of your diet, hands down, are vegetables. Vegetables are so important they should be the "centerpiece of your plate". Fresh Raw vegetables are usually the highest in nutrients and anutrients and should account for the bulk of your vegetable intake; look for Organic vegetables whenever possible.
- Whole grains are also very important part of a healthy diet, but it's important not to confuse the more familiar unhealthy processed foods labeled "whole grains" as your main source. The best whole grains are Natural Whole Grains or those in their NATURAL form (organic when possible); Long Grain Rice, Millet, Oat Groats, Buckwheat Groats, Hulless Barley, Kamut, Quinoa, and Amaranth just to name a few of my favorite grains. They typically take anywhere from 20 - 45min to cook, and they're great for breakfast, lunch, or a dinner side-dish.
- Another important and healthy addition to your diet should be Legumes (beans). Once again these should be purchased in their natural state for the most health benefit. For legumes this means either fresh (like peas for instance) or dried; avoiding canned as your main source due to the high amounts of sodium. Nuts and Seeds should be fresh unsalted and with the shells (nuts especially). Fact: Legumes + Grains = Perfect Protein
- Fruit is also an important food and just as vegetables should be consumed fresh not processed (and organic whenever possible). It's best to avoid pre-bottled fruit juices (due to the high sugar content) or pre-cut/pre-packaged fruits (due to a loss of nutrients) as your main sources.
- Nuts and Seeds are Great sources of Healthy Fat, and should be apart of any healthy diet... Allergies permitting of course.
- Finally a healthy diet should consist of Organic Grass Fed Beef, Free-Grazed Chicken and Eggs, Wild Caught Fish,*Cheeses and milk. I put them last on the list because most Americans or those with a Western diet often put them at the top. Because of the quality of most of the meat consumed in this country (corn/grain fed, non-organic, high in saturated fat) as well as the quantity (main focus of every meal) meat consumption, especially red meat, is one of the leading causes of many of the health issues plaguing Americans today. The surprising thing to most people though is when consumed as previously stated (Organic Grass Fed and Free-Grazed) they no doubt provide important nutrients without the high levels of saturated fats and harmful hormones and antibiotics found in grain fed animals.
So there you go... No fancy point system or gimmick, no specially designed "health" shakes bars or pills, just healthy foods consumed in their most natural healthy state. If you rethink they you eat as stated above then you WILL be healthy, and that is Priority 1; a healthy weight will follow suit.
And yes it's inevitable that you will consume processed foods, but they must NOT be the primary sources of any of the 6 food groups listed above. It is also important to make sure that the processed food you do consume is organic whenever possible.