What is consciously nourishing ourselves all about? What should we eat? What does healthy eating look like on the plate? I must stress that it is a principled approach that one must ultimately adopt. In any field of endeavour using principles relieves us of the need to know what to do in each and every specific situation. I have 11 principles for healthy eating summarised below for your reference.
The purpose here is to look at some meal suggestions and a few tips on healthy oils taken from my own repertoire of meals.
The ultimate personal development challenge
Firstly, when tackling diet (the most powerful health tool in your box) it is important to appreciate from the start that you are attempting to change deeply ingrained habits and you must be patient. You will need to strike a balance between being easy on yourself at first and being disciplined and committed. My own experience with dietary experimentation has seen me crash off the wagon many times. For me learning how to eat right has been a long process that has got easier with every new delicious flavour I have discovered. It has been a process of displacing harmful foods like bread and pasta with new foods that satisfy me and fill me up.
Think of changing your diet as an exercise in self-control and self-mastery. Putting the value of health above that of taste alone is crucial. It is difficult but the rewards are enormous – a long and healthy life in a fully functioning body. Take charge over the one activity that you have total control over by subordinating taste as the only criterium for what you choose to eat.
With every mouthful of food you eat you are determining your genetic expression. Whether you eat fat or sugar, whether you eat toxic additives in processed food or nutritious healthful raw and home prepared food, you are determining the body that you build with every bite. You are determining your future health outcomes years in advance with every meal you eat. It is the most powerful control we have on our genetic expression.
What Nutritional Type am I?
Discovering what your body needs is ultimate an individual journey for you to undertake. There is no quick answer, you have to discover it through trial and error to some extent. Within certain broad parameters the requirements of your body are specific to you. It may be helpful to understand that research by Dr Joseph Mercola revealed 3 specific nutritional types that people generally fall under. It is well worth looking into this as it may shed some light on your specific requirements enabling you to better design a diet that is best for you. His work was based upon the original work by William Wolcott “The Metabolic Typing Diet“.
Vegan and Vegetarian
I do not consider it wise to avoid all animal fats and there is a lot of propaganda out there steering people away from eating meat (and fish) such as the film “What the Health“. The real challenge is that there are edible healthy sources of meat and there is meat that is not fit for human consumption. It is the same with fish. As a general rule avoid farmed fish and almost all supermarket bought meats. We must be very discerning in sourcing our food. This is a key part of consciously nourishing ourselves.
There are a lot of vegetarians who are rightly protesting the methods of meat production. However, there are animal fats that humans need. And we must not forget that we have evolved eating a high-fat animal based diet.
How to start?
Get a ketogenic recipe book. It doesn’t matter which one. Here are a few suggestions.
- “The Keto Diet” by Leanne Vogel
- “Quick Keto Meals in 30 Minutes or Less” by Martina Slajerova
- “The Beginner’s KetoDiet Cookbook” by Martina Slajerova
- “The One Pot Ketogenic Diet Cookbook” by Liz Williams
By getting a cookbook for ketogenic eating you will be setting out on the right foot even if you do eat bread and other refined carbs. To eat right for your human genome it is essential to reduce refined carbohydrates, which means bread and sugar and sweets and pasta and biscuits. At the same time replace the calories that would have come from sugar and refined carbs with healthy fats. Don’t over do it on the protein, but be fastidious about what quality protein you eat.
Again, the principles to follow are these: Drink plenty of top quality water that is filtered if it comes from the tap. Use organic products since by definition they are less contaminated with toxicity than their non-organic counterparts.
In the morning I drink black organic fresh ground coffee. Fresh ground because rancidity of the oils is prevented by grinding immediately prior to consumption. It is worth noting that the addition of cream with Coffee destroys many of its benefits. I also like a hot mug of Miso. This is a Japanese fermented soya and brown rice drink. Green Tea is also recommended for good health but I just haven’t been able to develop a taste for it, so I ferment it into Kombucha and I can’t get enough.
Avoid any commercial soft drinks and unfiltered tap water.
Meal suggestions for healthy eating
I am not a chef. I have cobbled together my own way of eating from my knowledge of what is good for me and a fairly basic knowledge of cooking. Because gut health is so fundamental to overall well being fermented foods such as raw milk cheeses, kefir, fermented veggies and Kombucha have become a key part of my diet. I recommend you also give this some consideration.
I eat a lot of salads, but I have redefined salad. I do not mean iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato. I consider my salad as the main event of the meal. It is where all the nutrition is packed in with nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, spices such as ginger, garlic, and turmeric, and where healthy oils make their way into my diet (black seed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, etc) in the form of a salad dressing. A salad is limited only by the imagination.
Two meals a day suffices for me. So that is how I have laid things out below. Either skipping breakfast or lunch. Restricting our eating window to 8 hours or less is called ‘intermittent fasting‘ and encourages our bodies to burn fat. Once our bodies are adapted to burning fat as a primary fuel calorie consumption tends to reduce. Eliminating bread and refined grains also helps this as food addiction decreases from the breakdown products of wheat.
Additionally, eating low carb during the week and then enjoying things like roast potatoes at the weekend along with other slightly higher Glycemic Index vegetables such as butternut squash and carrots become easily sequenced into a pattern cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis.
First meal – Poached eggs with a sliced avocado, on a bed of spinach leaves and pecan nuts.
Second meal – Nutritionally Dense Salad (NDS) with (leftover from Sunday lunch) chicken pieces in a ginger, and onion sauce (or curry).
First meal – Ham and 3-egg Omelette with onions and raw cheddar. Source good organic meat from small farms. [Don’t eat CAFO fed pork, chicken or beef].
Second meal – NDS 2 with Sardines (or mackerel) and Organic Olives, chopped macadamias, chard, cress and rocket.
First meal – Fried eggs and Bacon (use Ghee, coconut oil or the fat from the bacon to fry the eggs in) with Avocado slices and wilted spinach. I usually have 3 eggs and 2 rashes of bacon with a whole avocado.
Second meal – Roast pork with broccoli, Brussel sprouts and home made fermented veggies.
First meal – Fried eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms with a side of fermented veggies
Second meal – A bed of salad [onion, kale, rocket, coriander, pine nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, cucumber pieces, garlic, Brie de Mieux soft cheese or Rockefort] with a carbonara cheese sauce packed with pieces of bacon on top.
Fried halloumi cheese with avocado over wilted spinach in raw butter.
A salad with boiled eggs, anchovies and olives.
Scrambled eggs with wild Alaskan salmon fried in coconut oil and a squeeze of lemon.
A nutrionally Dense Salad with home made minced pork burgers (pork mince with onions/leeks and garlic and spices) served with home made baked chips (pieces of organic potatoe roasted in Coconut oil and Garlic.
Fried eggs, bacon and tomatoes
Roast Chicken/lamb/pork/beef with cauliflower, carrots, Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, bone broth and meat juice gravy (not a commercially available option) and fermented veggies.
These can contain almost any vegetables, herbs, seeds or nuts. They are a good way of getting raw foods into your diet too. I usually start with a chopped onion or leek, add some garlic/ginger/turmeric, add in seeds such as chia, fresh ground flax, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and sesame seeds.
Chop up spinach, chard, lettuce, beetroot leaves, rocket, coriander, parsley, cucumber, kale, chives, cress, avocado, celery, and what ever else comes to hand. make sure it is organically grown.
Then add some nuts: either pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamias, almonds or brazil nuts. PMix this lot up and pour on your dressing, toss it and serve.
For snacks, I tend to use full-fat cheeses such as soft cheese, Brie de Mieux, Camembert, Cambozola, or Rochefort. Nuts such as pecans, macadamias, almonds or brazils are also good for snacks. Kefir (made from raw milk) with a few berries mixed in is also a good option, and avocados are such a healthy food I usually eat 2 a day.
A salad dressing is a great way to get healthy oils into the diet and make even the most bland leaves taste great. Use oils such as virgin cold-pressed olive oil, macadamia nut oil, black seed (cumin seed) oil and avocado oil as staples. You can also use hemp oil, flax seed oil and walnut oil for variety.
Mix your oil roughly half and half with either raw apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar (watch sugar content). Then add either Himalayan salt or some well-sourced sea salt and perhaps some mustard to taste. Shake your mix in a small jar and presto! You can vary the ingredients and quantities according to preference.
Begin by eliminating processed foods and reducing sugar in the diet. Also, reduce bread consumption. This is challenging enough to begin with.
Switch your drinking habits from any sweet drinks to alternatives such as un-sweetened organic tea or coffee, herbal teas or water. I use Kombucha because it ticks all the boxes and tastes great. Careful with milk, its high in sugar in the form of lactose.
Cut out the crisps and all associated products. Chips and crisps are fried in the worst unhealthy oils. They are the wrong profile fats (inflammatory Omega 6 oils such as canola and sunflower oil) and they are usually rancid. This means damaged by oxidation into distorted molecules that should not be consumed. The same goes for all commercially produced baked ‘foods’ like croissants. Also plant-based carbs like potatoes roasted or fried into crisps, chips or roast potatoes get coated with acrylamide, which is a known carcinogen.
Start to think about how to increase fat intake and reduce carbs. Reduce the bread snacks and sandwiches.
I think this is all you need to focus on for phase One. Give it a few weeks to a couple of months and see how you are getting on and how ready you are to move on to Phase Two.
It’s a process – take it slow – stay committed to a long health span.
For phase two I would suggest 3 additional things to focus on.
Begin to shift towards eating much more organic food as part of a conscious strategy to reduce the toxic load on your immune system.
Start working on the intermittent fasting. It is not as hard as it seems. You can still eat three meals a day if you want to, or two larger ones, but the goal is to shrink the time window during which you are consuming calories. This is most easily achieved by skipping breakfast or dinner. Dinner is ideal but breakfast is somehow more manageable. You can still have a midmorning or midafternoon snack as a way of easing into it.
Also for phase two work on eliminating potatoes, pasta, spaghetti and rice during the week. This will help further reduce your sugar consumption. Compensate for calorie intake by increasing your healthy fats. Butter, avocados, oily fish, olives, coconut oil, nuts and seeds (pecans, macadamia, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, hemps seeds, chia seeds), wild salmon, fatty cheeses (not processed – try French Brie de Mieux, Cambozola, Camembert, Rocquefort).
By now, assuming that you are eating no processed food, very little sugar and choosing mainly organic options as well. And if you have managed to shrink your eating window each day even just a little bit towards a 6-hour time slot, and eating more healthy fats.
you are ready to move into Phase three.
Clean up your water intake by drinking only good quality filtered water. Get a whole house system ideally, or drink from a spring or well once it is tested.
Bring in more fermented foods. Learn to make Kimchi, or fermented vegetables. Kefir is easy to make with raw milk (if you can get it). Kombucha can be fermented from sweetend organic green tea using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeast) available on the web. Another option is drinking Japanese Miso.
When and if you feel up to it introduce the odd one-day fast. These can be lengthened in your own time. Remember the intermittent fasting will ease you gently into fasting by getting your body into fat burning mode, and then full water fasting is one of the healthiest things you can do.
The 10 Principles of Healthy Eating
- Avoid processed foods.
This means stop eating prepackaged meals, ready meals, tinned and canned foods. It means avoiding things put together in a factory, things sold with a comprehensive ingredients list, with a bar code on them. Convenience can be addressed while eating healthy, it just takes a little practice, thinking outside the box (according to the principles) and gaining a little knowledge. It may be challenging at first but it’s all very do-able.
Avoid all fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, pastries, sweets and pies. Avoid ‘artificial’ cream, creamers in drinks, and indeed whole swathes of readymade drinks on the market. Avoid crisps and everything that fits into that category.
One reason to avoid Processed foods is the use of extremely unhealthy fats (trans fats and other hydrogenated oils) in the ingredients. These trans fats are distorted and rancid fats that literally become part of your body – in cell walls and in your brain, which is largely fat. Another reason is the copious use of additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, colourings, flavour enhancers etc. The third reason is due to the high amounts of sugar either inherently in the product or added to make it taste good.
- Reduce sugar consumption.
The human body runs on 2 fuels, sugar (glycogen) or fat broken down into ketones. A healthy body should be adapted to use both fuels. Ideally cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis. The benefits of this are too many to mention here. Suffice it to say that this is where optimal health is achieved. An essential step one is not eating three high sugar meals a day – which is what the typical western diet consists of.
Each time sugar is consumed blood sugar rises and insulin is released to bring it down again into the safe range. Insulin does many things but one of them is to tell your body to burn sugar and store fat. To bring the body into fat burning mode we must reduce sugar intake. We can also reduce our window of eating time in the day. Either by skipping breakfast of dinner, we effectively shrink the number of hours eating and increase our daily fasting time. This is called intermittent fasting and is a very powerful technique to consider.
Reduce all forms of sugar intake. Swell as the obvious things that are sugar such as sweets and chocolate, pastries and cakes and biscuits, it is important to know what else breaks down into simple sugars not long after it arrives in your stomach.
Bread and all wheat products, potatoes, pasta, spaghetti, even starchy root vegetables like carrots and parsnips are high in sugar. This is not to say don’t eat these vegetables, just be aware. Also fruit is very high in sugar. Although if we eat the whole fruit the fibre in it mitigates the blood sugar rise to some degree, it is still sugar and this must be borne in mind if we are aiming to develop the ability to burn fat. Ideally we should cycle in and out of fat burning. So eating fruit at weekends for example along with those starchy root vegetables is a good way to feast back into sugar burning mode while enjoying the nutritional benefits of those foods.
Sugar feeds certain kinds of bacteria that do not benefit us. Sometimes they are referred to as pathogenic bacteria, but they are held in check in a healthy gut. A sugary diet gives the less beneficial bacteria an advantage. You don’t want this to happen because these bacteria in proliferation will cause problems.
A high sugar (i.e. normal) diet also is a major cause of chronic inflammation, which in turn is the major cause of disease. So although you don’t see the negative effects immediately, you simply stack the cards against yourself in the long term. Think in principles – think long term. Sugar also accelerates ageing.
I highly recommend the book “Fat for fuel” by Joseph Mercola for more information.
- Eat organic.
It is not a question of the food being more nutritious or tasting any different. It is simply because by definition organically grown food has less toxicity sprayed on it during the growing season. It therefore absorbs less toxicity than its conventionally grown counter part. It may still contain some Glyphosate and other toxins endemic in the environment, but considerably less than non-organic food.
Health is all about taking care of your environment – internal and external. Through diet we can affect our internal level of toxicity. To minimise our internal toxicity it is imperative to eat organic. Yes, it costs a little more, but what price do you attribute to the most valuable possession you have – your health? If only all food were grown sensibly without the use of toxic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides etc. Maybe with enough demand one day it will.
If you do ever eat bread or wheat products it is most essential to choose organic because the wheat used will not have been sprayed with Glyphosate repeatedly during growth and copiously prior to harvest. Glyphosate shreds your gut lining creating a ‘leaky gut’ and causes chronic inflammation (the major cause of disease) and potentially autoimmune diseases as well.
One major reason for avoiding eating out is that most restaurants use the cheapest and therefore least healthy ingredients in their food.
- Choose meat from organically raised grass fed animals.
Aside from the arguments about the merits of eating meat or not, if we do eat it we must make sure it is not poisoning us. Many of the arguments for vegetarianism fail to distinguish between organically raised grass fed meat and horrendously CAFO raised (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) meat injected with all sorts of hormones and reared on antibiotics. Again organic meat by definition means you avoid the routine antibiotics and hormone growth stimulants. You don’t want to be eating these with your meat.
The fat profile of the meat of any raised animal is determined by its diet. If it eats a diet to which it is genetically adapted – a natural grass diet in most cases – it contains healthy omega 3 fats. If it is raised on grains (non organic ones) the fat profile changes to more omega 6 (inflammatory) fats.
From examining the facts of human physiology and our history of eating it for millions of years, I consider animal fats to be well worth eating. But we must be conscious of what we choose, of what constitutes healthy meat. Most meat out there in your supermarket or at the restaurant is NOT healthy. Be informed. Eat according to principles.
- Choose eggs and all dairy products from organically raised grass fed animals.
For similar reasons it is wise to follow the same criteria in choosing eggs and dairy products. Eggs from Battery chickens have nowhere near the nutritious profile of organically raised pastured hens. The same goes for Cheeses and yoghurts and milk. In dairy products are far healthier if made from raw milk – that is unpasteurized. Pasteurisation kills most of the beneficial bacteria in milk and its derivative products. Given that gut health is at the core of physical health, we need these beneficial bacteria to seed the gut with the bacteria that crucially support our health. For this reason, more advanced seekers of optimal health I advocate eating raw dairy as well as fermented foods. [See below.]
Contrary to enduring myths in the mainstream media there is no problem with dietary cholesterol and you cannot eat too many eggs. They are the most nutritious micro-meal you can eat. Eat them raw for even more benefit! In a smoothy is best for most, although they can be eaten straight out of the shell.
- Eat more healthy fats and eat none of the unhealthy fats.
This is a list you just have to learn. By the way fats and oils are the same thing. Fats are solid oils. Oils are liquid fats. They change from one form to the other at various temperatures; those generally known as oils are liquid at room temperature, fats are solid. Healthy fats saturated animal fats and animal based omega 3 fats.
Healthy fats are; Avocados; olives and olive oil; coconut oil; raw butter and ghee from grass fed cows; fish such as sardines, anchovies and herrings or wild Alaskan salmon (NOT FARMED FISH); animal fats from beef, pork, lamb, goose etc; Bacon and chicken skin; Nuts such as macadamia, pecan, Brazil, almonds, pine; cocao butter, seeds such as chia, hemp; and black cumin oil for salad dressings.
Salad dressings are a great way to get healthy fats/oils into the diet and a great way of making nutritious salads taste fantastic. Olive oil and black cumin oil are great staples, mixed with Raw apple cider vinegar or balsamic.
- Avoid wheat and grains.
It is well worth reducing grains for several reasons. Firstly as part of a strategy to minimise sugar intake since starchy wheat flour in the form of bread and all associated products is broken down into simple sugars by the amylase in our saliva and is sugar virtually by the time it gets to the stomach.
Secondly unless you can make sure your bread is organic it contains dangerous levels of glyphosate and will wreak your gut health leaving you vulnerable to al sorts of problems. This point should not be underestimated in your eating choices. I recommend avoiding bread completely, but cutting way back is essential. Once again it is crucial to think long term. Just because we don’t notice immediate ill health does not mean that everything is ok.
Also the gliadin in wheat and some other grains binds with opiate receptors in the brain. It effectively makes bread and wheat products addictive. For health reasons and a general matter of happiness it is advisable to reduce things in our diet that give us a dopamine ‘hit’. The longterm and lasting feelings of wellbeing that will result in following a healthy diet far outweigh the short term ‘satisfaction’ of catering to subtle food addiction with wheat.
- Eat high amounts of healthy fat, low amounts of net carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of protein.
In terms of macro nutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrate – a healthy diet must best contradict the advice we have all been hearing for years. Low fat diets cause ill health. The body needs healthy fats as mentioned for our brain for building cell walls, for making hormones etc. And dietary saturated fat is not a problem.
Fat does not make you fat provided you do not habitually eat it with sugar or refined carbs. If you do, the carbs raise your blood sugar, then insulin tells your body to store fat and bingo, you end up wearing it. Ideally eat meals high in fats and low in refined carbs (this means without potatoes, spaghetti, pasta, bread, sugary sauces etc.).
The other important thing to note is that any consumed protein over and above your body’s requirements for that particular day, get broken down into sugars. It is a process that is costly to the body in terms of toxin production, so a high protein diet is counter-productive. It will keep your body from burning fat. Most people in the west eat too much protein. It is another mantra we have all heard so many years. However, if optimal health is what we seek, reduce protein to about 1 gram per kilo of body weight per day – older people need less, body builders will need more. If you are working out that day you will need more.
As you eat less net carbs you must deliberately keep focused on where is the fat coming from. It can be hard to eat enough fat, you will have to plan it and think about it. However, because fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to carbs 4 grams per calorie, you will end up feeling fuller quicker on a high fat meal.
As a rough guide you can aim to eat 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. You will achieve 5% if you avoid all the starchy carbs mentioned above. Any plant food is carbohydrate by nature, so you cannot avoid eating all carbs. This is why it’s helpful to talk of net carbs. Net carbs means the total carbohydrate minus the insoluble fibre, which is also carbohydrate but your body cannot digest it
As you shift your diet away from carbs and towards healthy fats it is necessary and important to increase your salt intake. It is best to use Himalayan crystal salt as this is far superior to chemically synthesized table salt.
Again I recommend “Fat for fuel” for more guidance, as well as Dr Darren Schmidt’s videos on Youtube about Ketosis.
- Feed you gut microbiome with plenty of high fibre vegetables and ideally fermented foods.
Eat plenty of organic vegetables and fruits. By fruits here, I mean avocados, cucumbers, and tomatoes as well as other plants often considered vegetables yet are technically fruits. That is to say you eat the bit that contains the seeds. Salads can be a great way to get more of them into your diet (spinach, kale, collard greens, av
Some vegetables are best cooked: For example, carrots tomatoes, kale, spinach (wilted with butter), broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beans, swede, parsnips, potatoes, (best boiled). Note: Sweet corn is a grain!
Some are best eaten raw: For example. Onions, leeks, lettuce, parsley, rocket, coriander, chard, celery, rocket.
As you get more into it, I recommend adding in fermented foods to your diet to further support your gut health. Remember this is the foundation stone to your physical health and its importance cannot be over stated. You can survive for many years ignoring your gut health, but only at the cost of slow deterioration of health that will all catch up with you in the long term. Plan for health and feed your gut.
Fermented foods such as:
- Fermented veggies (sauerkraut) or Korean Kimchi.
- Kefir made from either milk or water.
- Japanese miso – a great drink made with just a spoonful in hot water.
- Kombucha – fermented green tea.
- Fermented condiments such as chutneys and even tomato sauce, provided they are not made in a factory.
10. Drink enough clean water.
Health requires adequate hydration and the importance of drinking sufficient clean water cannot be over emphasized. By clean I mean not tap water full of antibiotics, estrogen mimicking compounds, glyphosate, toxic agricultural run-off and all manner of other poisons.
Bottle water is not ideal but is better than tap water. It is often full of toxins from the plastic bottles, and this is made worse if the bottle is distorted out of shape or heated in the sun. Sometimes it is just bottled tap water, as in the case of the Dasani brand by Coca Cola some years ago! The best water is well water or filtered water using a whole house system or a standalone filter as second best option.
Replace all energy drinks and commercial fizzy drinks with real water. It’s what your body craves.
- Use Restore.
Lastly because leaky gut is epidemic these days I recommend using a product called RESTORE to protect your gut health. Glyphosate is everywhere in the environment. It is in the wind and in the water and it’s an antibiotic. It also triggers zonulin in the gut to destroy the integrity of the gut lining. This is THE MAIN BARRIER between your body and the outside world. What ever you eat it is imperative that your gut works properly and this means that the intelligent barrier that lets in the good stuff and excretes the toxins but most be riddled with holes and tears – like it is for most people.
A leaky gut leads to a leaky body. The blood brain barrier is affected and the kidney tubules are affected. The body looses its ability to detoxify and worse toxicity gets into the brain because the zonulin that rips apart the gut lining goes systemic and damages the blood brain barrier too. Chronic inflammation is the result – the slow destroyer of health. If we minimise our systemic chronic inflammation through diet and maintaining gut integrity with RESTORE we can render ourselves very resilient to disease and ill-health.
Check out www.restore4life.com for more information.
Live the life you love
Nigel Howitt, Treehouse Farm