Guiding Food Principles: How I eat in Light of Constantly Changing Recommendations

Part of the Food Talk series

Emily Haygood chopping vegetables in the kitchen

Let’s talk about how I eat…

Food recommendations are continually shifting. What is considered “healthy” today may be on the naughty list tomorrow and then back again in a few years. That’s why it’s important to have unchanging guiding food principles.

Here you’ll find the principles that guide my food choices 90% of the time. Having served as my foundation for years now, these principles don’t change even when eating trends and recommendations do. I love learning about and incorporating new food and nutrition discoveries into my diet, but it is unreasonable to think that every trend that comes along is good for me or my body. By using the following principles, I have a stable base in which to fit new information.

My Guiding Food Principles

This is how I eat; these are my unchanging guiding food principles. Yours may look a little different because we are all unique and have unique needs.

1. Don’t Eat Fake Food

I choose foods that are not heavily processed, free from man-made chemicals, fillers, and dyes,
and don’t have a sugar, salt, and fat content designed to be addictive.

2. Have Fun

Food is fun! I enjoy it. I enjoy preparing it, I enjoy sharing it, I enjoy eating it.

Food is fun! I enjoy it. I enjoy preparing it, I enjoy sharing it, I enjoy eating it.

3. Delight in the Colors, Textures, and Tastes of Real Food

I appreciate what I’m eating, noting how the colors, textures, and flavors play together, and taking the time to notice each food’s unique characteristics.

4. Don’t Eliminate or Severely Restrict Any One Category

In regards to macros (protein, fat, carbs), I don’t participate in any “high” or “low” diet.

5. Eat Veggie Heavy

I’m not a vegetarian, but I do eat plant-heavy.

6. Consume Whole Grains

The majority of grains I consume are whole grains, even in desserts.

7. Avoid Refined Sugars

I choose things like dates, honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in small
reasonable amounts.

8. Bean and Greens

I regularly incorporate beans and greens into meals aiming to eat them daily.

9. The Three Questions

When preparing meals, I ask myself three questions: 1. “Is there another veggie I can add?” 2. “Can I add a nut or seed to this?” 3. “Would a leafy green be good in this dish?”

10. Eat Variety

Micronutrients and macronutrients are important. The focus on one, two or all the macros can make us forget that micronutrients are extremely important. Eating a variety of colors, categories, and flavors helps with consuming those micronutrients and keeps things exciting. I vary my vegetables, fruits, proteins, nuts and seeds, and grains.

11. Balance is Important

If I love something, I can eat it. How it fuels my body determines portion size and how often I’ll eat it. However, I have found that the more I eat real food with good ingredients and less sugar, the less I am tempted to stray from eating healthy. Also, there is nearly always a healthier version or way of preparing indulgent foods to make them better for me. Usually, I enjoy these versions as much as, if not more than, the original.

Looking for a recipe that follows several of my personal food principles?

Forbidden Rice Bowl with zucchini and basil in shallow white dish

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