13 Tips for a Healthy Balanced Diet
Staying Healthy May Need a Paradigm Shift
Written by Dr. L. Lee Coyne, the Healthy Professor
WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that obesity is doubling every five years in spite of significant reductions in fat consumption.
Statistics reported by The Canadian Diabetes Association show 60,000 new Diabetics in Canada every year (a 3 fold increase over the last 5 years).
WHO estimates that by the year 2025, the incidence of Diabetes will double which means there will be over 20 million Canadians and 260 million Americans with the disease.
High blood pressure affects 25% of the population (7.5 million Canadians & 75 million Americans) and the number of deaths caused directly or indirectly are significant (20,000 Canadians and 200,000 Americans).
Dr. Marcia Stefanick of Stanford School of Medicine in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July of 1998, shows that low fat diets (as recommended by National Cholesterol Education Program NCEP) alone have met with disappointing results in the quest to control cholesterol.
A recent Royal Trust survey shows that among top 10% of income earners as entrepreneurs, 38% believe their health has been damaged by their success in running their own businesses.
The foregoing list may seem like a doomsday dissertation in the making but that is not my intent. I just need to grab your attention, particularly if you are currently destined to become part of the 38% mentioned in the last item. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!! A few logical shifts in lifestyle choices particularly those of dietary origin will make huge differences to how you your body responds to the stresses of life.
If you are interested in
- Healthy weight management;
- physical energy and a sense of being always alert;
- developing a healthy immune system so you reduce your "down time";
- looking your best including having healthy glowing skin;
- AND you currently feel you are lacking in one or more of the above, then you will want to read on.
My 30+ years experience in fitness & nutrition counseling, teaching and writing and speaking along with the review of research going back 180 years has convinced me that the most successful paradigm shift you could make would be in the balance of your diet. Yes I do believe in a healthy balanced diet, the balance is not the conventional version. So which balance should I choose? Read on!
First of all lets make it clear. Everybody is currently on a diet. There are vegetarian diets, weight loss diets, Inuit diets, athletes diets, diabetic diets, just to name a few. A diet is simply an eating plan and, if it includes deprivation, then it is probably destined to a painful death. Nutrition is what you receive from the diet you have chosen.
The confusion as to which "eating plan'' is best for your health often leads to the "cop out" advice: "everything in moderation". That answer is just not good enough if you wish to experience optimum health. If you wish for anything to be optimal, you must be aggressive in your pursuit. Standard recommendations and standard practices produce standard results.
Standard results in North America include epidemics of cancer, heart disease , diabetes and obesity. All of these conditions are dramatically affected by our food choices.
Are you tired of eating "low fat no fat" everything and faithfully pursuing your exercise program but still experiencing frustration with your weight management success? Have you been trying to follow conventional wisdom which recommends Canada's Food Guide (55 - 60% carbohydrates, 20 - 30% fat and 12 - 15% protein) as the authoritative food choice guide only to find it difficult if not impossible? Have you tried the "low calorie, low fat, high carbohydrate, high fiber, I don't give a darn about protein" plans only to experience the Yo Yo weight loss weight gain syndrome?
If your answers were Yes maybe you should consider a paradigm shift away from conventional advice and move toward the attitude which acknowledges the positive contributions of protein and essential fats to good health, easy weight management, better energy and better immunity.
Make your food choices based on the recently popularized, but very old research data promoting a diet composed of 40% of calories from carbohydrates (mainly fruits and vegetables and less from grains), 30% of calories from good fats (nuts, seeds, cold pressed oils, avocados, lecithin, fish oils) and 30% of calories from high quality proteins (lean or low fat animal products and soy products). This is known as 40 30 30 eating or a "Better Balanced Diet". Most of the health problems listed above can be altered or solved with correcting food choices. Let's now look at understanding causes and solutions.
The Cause of the Problems
Blood insulin levels have been shown to be at the root of these epidemics. "Out of control" insulin results from continuous and excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates (breads, cereals, muffins, pasta, donuts, crackers, puffed products, French fries, snack bars and other packaged foods).
Insulin is the good guy / bad guy hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to rises in blood sugar. We can't live without it, ask any Juvenile Diabetic (Type I). Insulin is responsible for moving sugar (the product of all carbohydrate digestion) from the blood to the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen and to convert surpluses to fat (triglycerides) for future energy use.
This functional hormone was developed as a result of the "thrifty gene" in man thousands of years ago when food was not plentiful everyday and man could store energy as fat to be used during lean times. Today we do not really experience these lean times.
The only way to mobilize and metabolize fat is to reduce blood insulin. The only way to reduce blood insulin is to reduce carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrates from the list above. Chronically elevated insulin is also reported to be responsible for elevated cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, sodium retention by the kidneys leading to fluid retention and high blood pressure, some inflammatory conditions and weakened immune systems.
Recently published Paleolithic research by Dr. Eaton which show early man ate 30% of his calories in the form of protein. Primitive man moved when the protein supply was inadequate.
The 1989 American Heart Association published guidelines for fat consumption suggest you "reduce' fat consumption to 30% of calories. They further warn against very low fat diets as radical, unproven, with insufficient evidence of safety and the observation that triglycerides usually become elevated when fat is too low.
Over 180 years of published research on this topic, has brought me to support the 40 30 30 eating plans. I am convinced that most people eat too many refined grain products, too many starchy vegetables, and too many high sugar products and not enough protein nor essential fats.
How do you fatten (finish in farmer talk) a cow, a pig or a chicken? You feed them grain, not fat.
To Start Your Paradigm Shift
- Eat protein & good fats in every meal and every snack no exceptions. For example if you want some ice cream, precede it with one to two ounces of turkey.
- Reduce carbohydrate intake, particularly from breads, cereals, muffins, donuts, pasta including pasta salads, starchy vegetables including potatoes of all kinds, puffed products, snack bars, bananas, corn, juices, dried fruits and sugar products.
- Obtain most of your carbohydrate calories from vegetables and fruits.
- Be very fussy about the sources of your fats and oils. Choose nuts, seeds and cold pressed oils.
- Never eat deep fried grease, cheap oils and margarine of any kind.
Hot Tips for the Busy Entrepreneur
- Stock your refrigerator with minimal preparation protein foods like sliced beef, chicken, turkey the real kind from a good deli if you don't have time to cook them yourself.
- Pre cut vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, celery and store ready to eat or marinate as a salad which lasts for several days.
- Stock plain yogurt and cottage cheese. If you need extra flavor use berries (high in fiber, low in calories and slow to raise blood sugar)
- Soy protein powder is an excellent choice mixed in water or milk never juice.
- Canned salmon, tuna, sardines, chicken, turkey, mixed with real mayonnaise, some of your cut vegetables and eaten in a whole grain pita pocket is a quick and responsible meal.
- Make thin crust pizza out of pita bread and use feta cheese along with your favorite vegetables.
- Responsible supplementation of vitamins and minerals is no longer an option for good health. Stay with high quality natural and mainstream "Food Supplements" including multivitamin multi-minerals, the anti oxidants beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C, essential fatty acids like lecithin, GLA and EPA, B complex (never isolated B vitamins) and fiber. Herbal supplements are Nature's Medicine and are not designed as life time supplements but rather natural items for solving problems.
- Exercise is absolutely vital to good health. Do not underestimate its value in weight management, stress relief, and cholesterol management. Find three to four one hour spaces every week to engage in exercise.
The foregoing paradigm shifts will help you become more productive, live long and live better so why not try them. Your family will thank you.
More detailed information on this concept is available in the book "Fat Won't Make You Fat" by the Author. Available through Fish Creek Publishing at 800-668-4042 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Health & Nutrition 101, published in Impact magazine.
L. Lee Coyne