Imagine you’re on a cruise ship. There are three buffets to choose from. One long table of food is marked by red signage, while another is marked in yellow and the last in green. At the long (red) table, you’ll find fried foods, donuts, baked goods and yummy looking sweets.
Table 2 (yellow) is piled high with steak, hamburgers, and a lot of white rice and pasta dishes. Lastly, table 3 (green) holds fish, lean meat, tofu, dark green veggies, fruit, whole grains and lots of seeds and nuts.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which table contains the healthier option. Just like a stoplight, green means go, yellow means proceed with caution and red means rarely. In this article, we’ll explore the delicious and nutritious foods that you should enjoy all the time. We’ll discuss which foods you should eat frequently, occasionally and rarely and why adding natural foods to your nutrition plan will help you look and feel your best!
Add Natural Foods to Your Diet
“If it doesn’t run, fly, swim or grow from the ground, it’s not food.” Natural foods don’t contain additives, preservatives or funny words you can’t pronounce. By filling your plate with fruits, leafy green vegetables, quality protein, whole grains and healthy fats, you’ll create meals that are colorful, delicious and chocked full of nutrients. Not only that, you’ll crowd out foods that don’t deserve to be on your plate in the first place.
By adding nutrient-dense food to your diet, you’ll fill up a lot faster than eating a burger and fries!
Studies show that satiety (the feeling of fullness), has less to do with caloric intake than it does with the intake of natural, healthy foods. If you’ve ever eaten a full sleeve of Oreos and wondered why you still felt hungry, it’s because you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs from high-quality food sources (even though you’re getting a huge amount of calories).
Highly caloric junk foods supply a much lower amount of nutrients compared to the volume of food. To look and feel your best, the majority of your calories should come from natural foods.
But, how do I spot food additives?
Start by reading the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on all foods. If you take a look at most ingredient labels, 9 times out of 10 you’ll come across the term “added sugars.” This is the point when you should back away! Stick with foods that only contain natural sugars—things like fruits and vegetables.
But sometimes it’s hard to spot these added sugars. Oftentimes, they’re hidden behind names ending in -ose, such as glucose, dextrose, maltose or sucrose. Don’t be fooled. Most of these “-ose” sugars are made from corn and chemically broken down until crystallization occurs. This process makes them sweeter and bad for your health.
Added sugars are also used during the processing of foods to enhance the flavor. Think of fruit cups, pop tarts or canned tomato sauce. All of these processed foods contain added sugar—usually the highly addictive kind, like high-fructose corn syrup.
There’s a word I’ve never seen before!
Remember, if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it!
Ingredients to Watch Out For
When you spot sugar, salt, fat or caffeine listed at the top of the ingredients list, steer clear. Ingredients are listed by amounts. When certain ingredients are listed at the top of the list, it means the product contains more of those ingredients than others.
Want to test your knowledge? Which food is healthier based on the ingredients label?
While the image on the left is the better choice, salt is listed as the third ingredient, demonstrated by the high level of sodium (480mg) per serving.
Green, Yellow, Red: Our List of Foods to Eat Plentifly, Occasionally and Rarely
The next time you head to the grocery store, consider our list of foods. Try to stick to our “Green Means Go” list to pack your diet with nutrient-dense, high-energy foods that will power you through the day. At the same time, don’t deny yourself the occasional snack, so grab a few things from the “Proceed with Caution” group. And while it might be hard to sustain from the “Red Means Rarely” category, just remember: your body is a temple. Fuel it with the good stuff! Save this stuff for your reward meal.
To tackle your shopping and come out on top, spend most of your time on the outer aisles of the supermarket. This is where you’ll find all the good stuff—fruit, veggies, lean proteins, organic eggs, etc.
Sustainability Over Quick Fixes
At Gymondo, we’re in it for the long haul. We believe in developing lifelong habits instead of instantaneous results. Eating a well-balanced plate filled with nutrient-dense foods will result in long-term weight loss or maintenance—whatever your goal may be. Use our guide to help you navigate the grocery store and choose foods that will provide you with the energy you need to power you through your busy day.
Sample Gymondo’s delicious (and healthy) recipes chocked full of ingredients from our “Green Means Go” list! Sign up now for your free trial!