I have spent a lot of time talking “best practice” when it comes to eating. There have been plenty of heated (though happy) discussions with fellow therapists about “diets” and how to eat. It’s mostly always argued that it’s best to be “general”. And to follow the already widely available food pyramid and healthy eating guidelines offered by the Health Department. For fear of upsetting the boat, alienating people, creating “food fear” or asking “too much” of clients, or of a genuine belief that the healthy eating guidelines are correct (they’re not), the vast majority of nutritionists still offer eating templates that include dairy, grains and starchy carbohydrates in large daily servings.
I don’t agree with this and so I don’t do it. Instead, please read on for a summary of what we at White Dog Studio profess to be the best and most wholesome way to eat for overall good health. There are disclaimers here, as always, because health isn’t black and white and everyone has different dietary needs and requirements so eating well requires you to be responsible, take time to listen to your body, exert control and intuition and feel your way through a health regime that should involve the following:
Eat plenty of leafy green and brightly coloured vegetables, every day. Choose grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meats and eat some with most meals, about a palm sized piece of protein will do nicely. Add a thumb-ful of fat and if you like about half a cup of starchy vegetables, such as white or sweet potato. Here and there snack on a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts and seeds. Enjoy some fermented foods such as sauerkraut. Avoid grains, starchy carbohydrates, dairy (unless fermented and well tolerated), legumes and sugar.
There are some people who can tolerate carbohydrates better than others and can eat more starch. The only way you will know is by cutting processed and carbohydrate based foods out of your diet and eating real, whole foods and nothing else for 30 days and then slowly, one by one, introducing them back in to gauge your reactions (such as gut aches, constipation, headaches, afternoon energy dips, blood sugar crashes, cravings, that feeling of just needing “something” after your dinner etc).
This is not to say you can’t eat these foods ever again - a suggestion is not a gun to your head. But when you eat well most of the time and bring balance to your blood sugar, hormones and digestive system, you find that the foods you so often crave now are actually not that good when you do come to “treat” yourself. As you go on, you’ll choose them less and less, your reactions to them will become more averse and you will crave the right foods and be thankful for them.
In a nutshell, I offer you these sentiments because all the good research shows it’s the best way to eat to heal your gut and avoid or manage autoimmune conditions, depression, anxiety, metabolic syndromes, hormone dysregulation, weight problems and behavioural disorders in children (and adults) such as Autism, Aspergers, ADHD/ADD. And because over the past decade my experience has been the same time and time again, if you heal the gut with the right foods, you heal the body and mind as well.
If at first you feel like this is too hard, make the change gradually. Aim to eat one whole foods meal once a day for four weeks, then add the second for a month then add the third. The hardest one is breakfast, so I suggest doing that one FIRST!
In the next blog post I will introduce the concept of counting macro nutrients for weight loss and body sculpting, which can be done in two ways. Firstly, using flexible dieting (which does not fit within the principles of White Dog’s food philosophies but has a place in the fitness industry and maybe your life which is totally fine by us) and secondly, by using a whole foods approach but still counting macros for best results in the gym. Stay tuned!