Start listing all the different diets there are: Ketogenic diet, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, Flexitarian, Mediterranean, Jenny Craig... the list will keep going on and on. While no single diet is the best, there are rules to eating and ways to feel healthy without restricting yourself completely. Everyone is different which means different things work for different people. In his book, “Food Rules”, Michael Pollan explains some very basic, non-debatable rules for eating in the healthiest ways possible. On the mat, we say that foods fuel you! Your body is like a racecar and you are either putting good fuel in to perform at your best or you are putting bad fuel in that will not help your performance. Personally, I know that my best workouts and my best days are the days that I eat clean and I feel healthy. Everything from the way I think, the way I teach, and the way I perform is affected by what I ate earlier that day! This is the same for everybody and here are a few tips to remember if YOU want to perform at your absolute best!
- Drink WATER! Depending on your age, your body is made up of between 50% and 75% water! The benefits of drinking water are endless! Water can help improve your energy, get rid of headaches, flush out toxins in your body, boost your immune system, and plenty of other things! We all know we need to drink water, so it just comes down to the discipline of doing it!
- Eat Food. Yes, the best thing to do to eat healthy, is eat food! This is Michael Pollan’s first rule in his book because it is just so important! To feel healthy and energized, you need to eat real, authentic food. A few good ways to determine this is to ask yourself some questions and remember some key things: Did this grow ON a plant, or was it made IN a plant? (I don’t remember the last time I saw a Twinkie tree!). Don’t buy it if a third-grader can’t pronounce the ingredients. Avoid it if it is regularly advertised on TV – Remember the last commercial you saw on how good spinach is for you? Me neither.
- Cook it. Studies have shown that people who regularly cook their own food are more likely to eat less and be healthier. When you cook your own food, you know how much time and effort was put into it. You also know the ingredients that are in it! Even if it’s just one meal a week, cooking your own meals will help you tremendously overall!
- Not too much. This is Michael Pollan’s second important rule. Eat food and not too much of it! We have always been taught to finish our plates and never waste anything, but sometimes it is good not to finish your meal. If you are full, you are full! Don’t force yourself to eat even more food! One philosophy Pollen gives on how much should be in your stomach is: 1/3 food, 1/3 water, 1/3 air.
- Go local. There is a very eye-opening documentary on Netflix called Fed Up which talks about childhood obesity and nutrition in America. One of the biggest tips that experts gave for families and children struggling to eat healthy was (SPOILER ALERT!) go local and cook your food! Not only are you getting the freshest, realest ingredients there are, but you are also helping your local community by buying from local farms and grocers.
REMEMBER! Food is fuel and you are fueling yourself! Eat food for performance! If you know you are going to have a long day, a hard workout, or if you are a parent and your child has a big test today, fuel them and yourself!
“ We are not only what we eat, but how we eat, too.” – Michael Pollan