Eating for health and not for maximum flavor is a completely new way of thinking for me. Before Feb 2023, I used to justify to myself that I can eat all the unhealthy food I want because I also ate 1 lb of leafy vegetables almost every single day. What got me to change my mind was that in Jan 2023, my body told me a firm no.
Lack of brain clarity, lack of energy, sleeping extremely poorly, gastrointestinal problems, random muscle pain, and always feeling hungry, were among some of my health issues.
In reading and reading rereading Metabolical (main concept: eat foods that protect the liver, feed the gut, and support the brain), perusing Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, The Government of Canada’s Food Guide, The World Health Organization’s Healthy Diet recommendations, and discussing with several health-conscious friends how they’ve changed their diet, I realized I had to make a choice.
I could either continue to eat my food favorites (deep-fried anything, super spicy, cake, ice cream, pastries, and chips) and suffer the health consequences or change my diet to eat bland-to-me foods and feel physically great afterward. I decided to choose the latter in hopes that my palate will eventually adapt.
Better, not perfection is my current goal for eating healthy. For example, it is recommended to eat two servings of salmon for a total of 200 g per week. Taking into consideration that I greatly dislike eating fish in general and salmon is my least favorite fish, I’m going to aim to eat 100 g of salmon once a week.
Going forward, I will keep eating the following from my current diet:
- 200 g of dark leafy vegetables and 200 g of one other vegetable (excluding starchy vegetables) daily. I eat vegetables for general good health and to feel full.
- 2 tbsps to 1/2 cup of plain whole milk yogurt every other day. I eat yogurt for bone and gut health.
Additionally, I will eat much less of:
- Deep-fried foods. Previously, I ate around 750 g to 1,300 g of fried food every week. Going forward, I will now eat under 500 g of deep-fried foods a week.
- Instant noodles. Previously, I ate 3 to 6 meals of instant noodles every week. Going forward, I will now eat instant noodles 1 to 2 times a week.
- Cake, ice cream, pastries. Previously, I ate about 875 calories of dessert every week. Going forward, I will now eat about 400 calories of dessert a week.
- Chips, pretzels, popcorn. Previously, I ate about 1,000 calories of savory snacks every week. Going forward, I will now eat about 500 calories of savory snacks a week.
Most significantly, I will now eat:
- 100 g (about 2 slices of bread) of 100% whole grain daily. This will be difficult for me because I dislike the bitter taste of whole grain. I am going to eat whole grains to heal my gut issues and to feel full for longer.
- 10 g (about 1 tbsp) of walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, or macadamia daily. This is both incredibly easy and highly difficult because I love eating nuts and tend to overeat greatly. I am going to eat nuts for brain health. Walnuts in particular are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid. (Did you know an essential fatty acid is necessary for health but cannot be made by your body?)
- 150 g (about 1 medium apple worth) of fresh or frozen fruit daily. This will be easy for me, especially in the summer. I am eating whole fruits daily to replace the cake, ice cream, and pastries I would otherwise eat. Included in the fruits will be at least 3 bananas for gut health and 200 g (about 1 cup) of either blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries weekly for brain health.
- 100 g (about 3 oz) of mackerel or salmon weekly. This will be highly difficult for me because I greatly dislike the flavor of oily fish. I am eating mackerel and salmon for brain, skin, and eye health. Mackerel and salmon contain the most amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), types of omega-3 essential fatty acids compared to all other foods.
- 500 g (about 17 oz) of sweet potatoes, taro, pumpkin, squash, or potatoes weekly. This will be medium difficult for me. I am eating sweet potatoes, taro, and potatoes for their anti-cancer properties.
- 250 g (about 8.5 oz) of cooked black beans or green peas or chickpeas weekly. This will be medium difficult for me as they are not foods I regularly cook. I am eating black beans, green peas, and chickpeas for fiber and gut health.
These are huge changes for me that I’ve previously never made which makes me unsure if these changes will prevail. Right now, I plan to observe my actions as they will reveal how much I truly value eating for health. I’m hoping that I can persuade my brain to make more rational decisions when it comes to food by asking, “Is this food choice going to move forward or backward in my quest for better health?”