One thing I know for sure: We can’t eat every possible food in one sitting. Believe me, I’ve tried. 🙂
Since we can’t eat everything, we have to make choices every time we eat. Sometimes our choices are based on hunger, emotions, familiarity, cost, availability, habit - and our choices can also be based on wellness. What determines your food choices each day?
What to eat over what not to eat
I’ve compiled ingredient categories here as an easy reference of what are widely considered foods to eat daily for optimal wellness. These are the foods of the Blue Zones, places around the world where people are known to live the longest, and the nutrient-dense foods that Dr. Greger of nutritionfacts.org recommends as his Daily Dozen, which he has determined through extensive scientific research. He has an app called Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen that I find very handy.
By learning what the Daily Dozen are, we can choose what to eat rather than worrying about what not to eat. Focussing on simply eating something from each of these categories every day has put me on a better path to wellness than before, when I would tend to focus on what not to eat, and then obsess over what I wasn’t eating until I ate it. It’s inspired me to add other wellness practices to my day, focussing on exercise, sleep, meditation/calmness, love/relationships.
action over perfection
I’ve switched my priority from duration and perfection to simply action, so that my expectations for myself more realistically fit in my day, which especially helped when I was starting out. My goals weren’t too big that way, and I was more able to succeed at getting the categories in. That’s led to less time and energy getting down on myself when I eat something that’s not part of the Daily Dozen. After awhile, the focus moved to building gradually to the recommended quantities. My goal isn’t to eat perfectly, sometimes I do eat outside of these categories, but I find that it happens less often because I’m not hungry for something else - I’m regularly eating plenty of easy, delicious, and nutritious food instead of habitually, unconsciously reaching for fast food or chips anymore.
Eating this way doesn’t have to be expensive. A pound of beans costs $2-6 (depending on the bean and source), plenty for an average family’s meal with some $2-5 whole grain pasta or grains. Work in $2-3 worth of veggies and spices and you’ve got a delicious meal that feeds 4-6 people for $7-14.
Another note: when I switched to plant-based, I did discover I had sensitivities to certain food. Keep in mind, I had sensitivity to dairy most of my life, and I just ignored it. But when I started to pay more attention to what I eat and how I feel, I started noticing what made me feel better and what made me feel worse. There is an adjustment period, too, though. Beans can cause gas when you aren’t used to them, so give it a few months to see if it’s really a sensitivity.
I hope you find these categories helpful. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you!
the daily dozen
Nutritious foods to enjoy each day