Yesterday morning, shortly after waking up, I had breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs; a bowl of organic oats mixed with raw honey, cinnamon, and a half a cup of berries; and a big cup of organic, black coffee.
Mid-morning, after my workout, I had a protein shake consisting of plant-based protein powder and almond milk; with a banana on the side.
For lunch I had a half a cup of black beans on a bed of Jasmine rice; steamed broccoli; half an avocado; and 1 cup of bone broth.
My dinner consisted of 6 ounces of grass-fed ground beef; a sweet potato; and kale (sautéed in ghee).
This is pretty much what a regular day of eating looks like for me.
A couple of nights per week I might have a glass of wine or a beer and maybe a dessert every now and then.
While most of the year I manage to fit in 3-4 days of training and log in 10,000 steps each day, there are times that, for whatever the reason, my activity declines—despite this, I manage to keep my body-fat between 10 and 12 percent with relative ease.
The reason being that I have a healthy relationship with food.
However, and sadly, most people do not.
I thought I’d try to alleviate some of the hardship and guess-work by outlining my 4 pillars of a healthy eating plan:
1. Real Food
Healthy people eat real food.
I can’t put it any simpler than that.
They don’t drink diet soft drinks; they don’t eat low-calorie or fat-free snacks; they don’t take a million different supplements; and most of what goes into their mouths doesn’t come out of a bag or box or can be bought in a vending machine.
This is probably the most important step you could take in improving your health and relationship with food.
Stop counting calories; instead focus on filling every plate you consume with delicious, organic whole-foods—mainly vegetables, fruit, animals, nuts, seeds, legumes, and some grains.
A few eggs and a bowl of berries will serve you much better than a bowl of cereal at breakfast.
A big salad with lots of delicious vegetables, olive oil, avocado, quinoa, and black beans will nourish your body more than a sandwich, burger or pizza for lunch.
A dinner consisting of wild-caught fish, sautéed veggies, and a sweet potato lathered in organic butter is not only good for you, but will satisfy your taste buds better than just about anything else.
Ask yourself if what you are eating on a regular basis could have been consumed 500 years ago—if the answer is “no,” then it’s most likely not good for you.
(There are exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, this will steer you away from the majority of processed junk most people make their diet up from.)
2. Balance & Variety
Want to know how to spot a fad diet from a mile away?
It’s when it predominantly consists of all the foods (and macro-nutrients) you can’t eat.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet.
Human beings have been evolving for 2.5 million years.
For the vast majority of that time-span we have been able to procure all of our nutritional needs by eating a wide variety of plants and animals—we should most definitely be able to do the same today.
Nutrients exist for a reason, and we need them all if we want to thrive.
If your diet is balanced and varied you shouldn’t have to rely on supplements for any nutrient deficiencies; you shouldn’t feel sluggish or experience brain-fog on a regular basis; you shouldn’t feel hungry all the time; and your immune system should function optimally.
You should like what you eat.
That’s the only way you’ll be able to keep up healthy eating habits for life.
Do you enjoy toast with your eggs and fruit in the morning?
Pick up some sprouted, sourdough bread that’s minimally processed and produced as naturally as possible, allowing your body to actually digest and absorb its nutrients.
Do you enjoy cream in your coffee, cheese for snacking, and butter for cooking?
Make sure you purchase organic, full-fat dairy products that are loaded with healthy, satiating fats and are void of synthetic fillers, hormones and antibiotics.
Should foods like grains and dairy make up the majority of what you consume?
But does this mean that even though you might enjoy these foods and feel OK consuming them that you should expunge them altogether and be completely miserable with your eating plan?
That’s a recipe for long-term failure.
As long as you are eating real food, you’re meeting your body’s nutrient and energy demands, you feel great and are pleased with how you look, eat what makes you happy.
Progress and consistency are synonymous; you can’t have one without the other and it’s impossible to stay consistent with anything that you hate doing.
Would we look, feel and perform better if we never drank alcohol or ate ice-cream?
But would we be any fun to hang out around?
Every now and then, indulge a little bit.
Enjoy that night out with friends and family.
Appreciate the food while on vacation in some foreign locale.
Enjoy a glass of red or a couple squares of dark chocolate on a Friday night after a hard week’s work.
Will this add to your calorie count for the day?
Will it impact your health negatively in the grand scheme of things?
95% of the time, stick with pillars 1, 2 and 3.
If you do that and keep your activity level up on a regular basis, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the finer things in life every now and then.
Will you get ripped following this approach?
Most guys should be able to maintain a healthy body-fat composition of around 10-15%, and ladies around 20-25%.
Keep in mind, however, that being healthy and being ripped, for most people, are not the same thing.
If you have more aggressive body comp goals in mind, I still recommend following a whole-food approach, but pillars 2, 3 and 4 might have to be put on hold until you meet your specific target.
For the rest of the population that doesn’t care so much about having six-pack abs, keeping these four pillars in mind whenever you sit down to enjoy a meal will keep you on track for a lifetime of healthy eating—without the stress that comes along with following a “diet” plan.