Principles

I’ve been researching nutrition and experimenting with my diet for the last 10 years, and through my experiences, I’ve captured a handful of nutrition principles to share with people who want to improve their health. My hope is that my simple approach and objective viewpoint can help you cut through all the noise and find a diet lifestyle that works for you.  
Want to skip all the background and just get straight to the advice?

Beginners: For people who are just starting their journey towards healthier nutrition.

Intermediate: For people who have a base of knowledge but want to take it up a notch.

Advanced: For people who are already eating healthfully but need the last nudge to completely clean up their diet.
When I first decided to get serious about nutrition, it was hard to know where to start. Food and nutrition information overload was a real problem for me. There are so many competing interests (for example, food companies and supplement sales people) and conflicting information that it’s hard to know what to do or who to trust. Plus, it seems like a new study comes out every day with a new conclusion about my favorite foods. It’s impossible to keep up!

With my head spinning but an intense desire to learn and improve, I just started experimenting with every type of nutrition philosophy I could find. Over the last 10 years, I’ve tried calorie counting and journaling, Vegan, Ayurvedic, Paleo, PH, Raw, Whole 30, 21 day Beach Body fix, Slow Carb, and Keto. I evaluated each one based on a few criteria: ability to comply with the diet, cost, my energy level, mental clarity, and how my body feels after eating. There was no one perfect approach. So instead of recommending a particular diet, I think it's more helpful to share a few foundational nutrition principles for people to start with. Below are the principles of what I recommend to eat, how to eat, and why I think these nutrition principles are beneficial to health.

Start here, and then experiment! Pay attention to how your body feels when you change something in your diet, and then keep learning and experimenting until you land on something that works for you. Everybody is different and will react differently to foods.  Of course, I am not a doctor, so please consult your physician before trying big dietary changes.

What to Eat

Food in its whole, natural state.  This means cutting out processed foods and additives. Focus on food that is in season, and if possible, from local sources you know and trust. Quality of food can be more important than the quantity you eat. When you eat whole foods you are more likely to fully satiate your appetite and avoid over-eating.
Focus consumption on healthy fats, protein, and vegetables.
  • Fats: raw nuts & seeds, olives, coconut oil, olive oil, raw butter, avocado, bacon
  • Proteins: Wild-caught fish, Organic eggs, chicken, ground turkey, lamb, beef, and pork
  • Vegetables: Stick with mostly above ground veggies in season. I consider below ground veggies as carbs/starches to use sparingly. My favorite vegetables include greens, sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, asparagus, brussels sprouts, zucchini, bell peppers, radishes, spaghetti squash, eggplant and tomatoes.

How to Eat

Keep the temptations out of your house: the time to have discipline is at the store. As they say: out of sight, out of mind, and you give yourself a much better chance of compliance if the bad foods never enter your house.

Not all calories are created equal: I have found if you stick to whole foods, eliminate processed foods, and have a good mix of fats, proteins, and carbs, you probably don't need to count calories. Instead, your body should give you the signal it is full. A good example of this is cereal. It is so easy to eat a whole box and not feel full, am I right?! But an entire day of calories is in that box!

Be aware of how you feel after you've finished your meal: Understanding how you feel after a meal can tell you a lot. Are you sluggish, energized, light, hungry, satisfied, or stuffed? Can you see any patterns in food that make you feel this way?

Cook your meals, if you can: I love to cook my family’s meals because I know what goes in them and I enjoy the creative process of coming up with a meal. I love finding new ideas for how to incorporate vegetables, cuts of meat, and fats we haven’t used before.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a setback: Take life one meal at a time. If you went overboard or off track, just move on and know that you have the next meal to change it up. Keep learning from your experience and look forward, not back.

Make your food look good: The food’s appearance can change your eating speed and your relationship with the food. Is it something worth savoring, slowly appreciating every bite? Or does it just look like a pile of calories to stuff down your gullet?

At the grocery, shop on the perimeter of the store: I prefer to shop at local farmer’s markets and use CSAs, but when I do shop at the grocery, I only walk around the outside of the store. I also use the dirty dozen rule of thumb for organic produce and buy organic dairy, eggs, and meats.

Enjoy your meal creations without interruptions from screens: Make a point to sit down and savor the meals you create without a phone or TV screaming for attention. Be mindful while you eat. Actually looking at and chewing your food will allow the brain to process that you are eating and you will be able to TASTE your food! 

Why?

  • Increase your overall health
  • Weight management
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Increased energy
  • Reduce cancer risk
  • Potentially prevent and manage diabetes

Beginners

  • Skip the milk and cereal. Start your day with a protein rich breakfast, like two eggs with 1/4 cup of black beans cooked in a tablespoon of fat and topped with salsa and sprouts. If a morning shake is more your speed, I like Shakeology and Sun Warrior.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Stick to water, coffee, tea instead of sodas or juices. You can also have red wine, but only in moderation.
  • Cook one more meal per week than you did previously, instead of eating out.

Intermediate

  • Find a source of recipes that follow the eating principles I've laid out above.
  • Plan your meals for the upcoming week, put a shopping list together, and only buy what’s on your list.
  • No bread, rice or pasta. After a week of following my nutrition principles, try eliminating all grains. 

Advanced

  • Eliminate all sugars.
  • Eliminate all white carbohydrates.
  • Refine the ratio of fats, proteins and carbs.
  • Eat high quality and organic foods where it makes the most impact.
  • Make a food journal to note what you eat and how it makes you feel.
  • Make meals beautiful!
  • Experiment with different variations of the following to see what works best for you: ketogenic, slow carb, paleo, Whole 30, etc.

What I Eat

Breakfast
Normal day: Coffee with coconut oil & a cup bone broth
On a big calorie burn day: Shakeology or 2 eggs, black beans, salsa

Mid-Morning snack: I usually don’t snack, but if I do, it's 1/8 cup of raw nuts (macadamia, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin)  

Lunch: Lots of veggies
A protein like eggs, sausage, or chicken burger
Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, or a sunflower oil based dressing (Tessemae’s is my favorite)

Dinner: ‘Zoodles’ (Zucchini Noodles) with Marinara Sauce
Ground turkey meatballs (easily baked in the oven) drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled parmesan cheese for fat.
Glass of red wine.

Dessert: Grab a small mason jar and fill with 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, a dollop of almond butter, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 5 drops of stevia, 1 tablespoon of raw cocoa, and a sprinkling of raw pumpkin seeds. Give it a good shake, and by the time dinner and dishes are done, I have a chia seed pudding!