What Should You Eat


When I was studying to become a Health Coach I remember being super confused about what to eat. We learned about 100 different dietary theories. The more I learned, the more I felt unsure about what was considered the “right way to eat.”


All of the our teachers were highly successful doctors, scientists, and nutritionists. They all had valid points and research to back up their nutritional theories and yet their research findings often contradicted one another. 


For example, some of our teachers shared studies on the importance of adding more dairy to your diet; others shared research on why dairy is terrible for your health.  Even the teachers who said we should eat more dairy disagreed. Some said you should be having low fat dairy, while others believed full fat dairy is better for you.


One day we had several lectures on the importance of grass-fed beef. I was so impressed by the research that at the end of the day I called my husband and told him I was going to eat a grass-fed burger. He was shocked since at the time I had been a vegetarian for over 20 years.


The next day we had different teachers share detailed evidence on how meat contributed to cancer and heart disease and that we should be eating a more plant centered diet. I felt more confused than ever after these back-to-back days of conflicting information. I have to say that in that moment I was happy that I chose not to eat the burger.


With all of these confusing and conflicting theories, which one is the right one to follow? 


I started to focus on what our teachers had in common rather than what they disagreed on.


Here are the core principles that every teacher agreed on:


* Cut out or dramatically reduce your sugar intake. I was shocked to discover that the average American eats 150 pounds of sugar a year. That still sounds crazy to me. It’s not just the cookies, soda, and ice cream. Sugar is in most of our processed food items. It’s essential to become a better food label reader and check for hidden sugars. While you’re at it, cut down on the white flour too since it just converts to sugar in your body.


* Eat more vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables. Americans only eat about 8 pounds of broccoli a year, compare that to the sugar statistic and you start to see the major imbalances many of us have in our diets.  Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, romaine, arugula and collards are highly dense in nutritional value and a great way to show your body some love.


* Drink more water. I know this is boring and you’ve heard it a ton of times, but I’m sharing it again as a loving reminder to hydrate yourself. If you drink coffee, have an extra cup of water since coffee dehydrates you.


* Eat real food. Stay away from processed food products and eat food that is minimally processed. This includes staying away from deep fried foods and pretty much anything you would find in a fast food restaurant.


* Slow down and stop eating before you are full. Gone are the days of the “clean plate club.” It’s important to learn to pay attention to your body and know when you have had enough.


If you feel confused about what to do to improve the way you eat, start with these basics. Just by focusing on these action steps you will be on the road to taking excellent care of your body. You will that notice your energy improve, your mood improve, and your sugar cravings start to diminish. 


As far as meat or plant centered, dairy or no dairy, grains or no grains; these are things that you can experiment with once you take care of the basics outlined above.


We are living in an age when so much information is available that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not take any action. That’s why I think it is helpful to let go of finding the “perfect diet” and focus on the core principles to start improving your eating habits.




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Michelle's class helped remind me that my own physical and emotional health should be priorities, too.

Justine Fontinell