Provided you know why you want to eat better, you understand where you’re at presently and know that you have the power to change it.
Knowing that, I wanted to elaborate a little more on the foods you might want to keep handy, more often.
**People get caught up the organic this or organic that debate. Unless it’s important to you for ethical reasons, and/or you feel you can afford it (and good on ya!) don’t worry too much about technical terms, and the above picture is an excellent example of why.
Notice the “fed an organic, all grain diet without antibiotics.
Obviously grain is not a chicken’s natural diet, and even though this container says ‘Organic’ it is probably not much better off nutritionally than any other kind of egg because of that unnatural diet.
The 100-mile diet is a great concept, probably better than just buying ‘organic’ foods, at least in theory.
I mean really we should all know where our food comes from and what it’s fed but that’s another debate and article altogether.
The feasibility of which is another issue and I feel as if most people should start here with whole foods first before they worry about where ALL of their food comes from.
WHAT TO KEEP ON HAND AND COOK FROM
Lean Proteins (Meats/Dairy – To provide amino acids for tissue repair):
- Lean Ground Meat (Beef, Bison, Pork, Turkey, Chicken, etc…)
- Chicken or Turkey Thigh/Breast (Other Poultry like Ostrich or Emu too)
- Pork Tenderloin/Chops
- Lean cuts of Steak, Lamb, Bison, or other Roasts
- Fish – Canned Tuna/Salmon or any fresh/frozen fish
- Eggs and/or Egg Whites (Yolks carry most of the nutritional value)
- Cottage Cheese
- Non-Fat Cheese (Milk Based Cheeses are not as flavourful, but are much higher in protein, things like Ricotta are also high in protein, but check labels…)
- High Protein Yogurt (Probiotic Better, Regular Yogurt ok though, watch sugar content and look for higher protein varieties like Liberte 0%)
- This is last for a reason, it’s a supplement not a replacement: Protein Supplement (Mix it up, try Vega, Hemp, Rice & Pea Protein in addition to traditional Whey and Casein or other milk blends)
- You can buy a lot of this on sale if and when you like; a lot of these can be frozen
Vegetables/Fruit (To Keep you Healthy so you can train):
- Spinach (Fresh and/or Frozen)
- Other Leafy Greens like Arugula or Watercress or the tops of root veggies
- Lettuce (Particularly dark leaf varieties, like Romaine)
- Mushrooms (Canned and/or preferably Fresh)
- Tomato (Canned and/or preferably Fresh)
- Bok Choy
- Broccoli (Different Varieties)
- Cabbage (Red and/or White)
- Onions (Leaks, Garlic, Green Onions/Scallions, Shallots, etc…)
- Peppers (Red, Green, Orange, Yellow, Hot)
- Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, get frozen it’s cheaper)
- Tropical Fruit (Pineapple, Mango, Papaya, bananas, etc…)
- Citrus Fruits (Lemons/Limes/Grapefruit, Oranges, Tangarines, etc…)
- Melon Fruits (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, etc…)
- Other Frozen vegetables are nice to have on hand (We always try to keep a bag in the freezer for short-term meal emergencies…)
- **ALSO aim to eat 2-3x more veggies than fruits, just as a rough suggestion…
Healthy Fats (To Keep you Healthy so you can train and add good calories):
- Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, etc… watch serving size, think a small handful per day, large handful, maybe two, if you’re a bigger guy)
- Almond Milk
- Avocado/Avocado Oil
- Flax Meal/Flax Oil
- Chia Seed
- Fish/Fish Oil
- Olives/Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Peanut Oil (Peanuts are a legume but in this form often high in good fat)
- Nut Oils
- Coconut/Coconut Oil/Coconut Milk
- Natural Peanut Butter (Or other tree nut butter, great in shakes with ice, milk, and chocolate protein)
- Almond Milk/Butter
- Hemp Butter/Oil
- *Cheese can sometimes be put into this category too, look at the labels.
- You can buy a lot of this on sale if and when you like; I would freeze some things (like nuts so they don’t go rancid) and keep quantities small on the oils so they don’t go rancid – obviously some of these also need to be refrigerated too
Starchy Carbohydrates (Provide some good micronutrients and aid in performance and recovery):
- Oatmeal (Steel Cut and/or Quick Cooking)
- Quinoa (White, Red or Black all are good – Only complete plant protein next to Soy)
- Rice (Brown Preferred)
- Cous Cous
- Wheat Bran or Oat Bran
- Non-Flour or Sprouted Grain Breads (Something like this)
- *Starchy Carbohydrate consumption is best reserved for post-workout consumption, especially if your objectives are weight-loss (you might do with morning consumption depending on body-type and tolerance…)
- **Opt for whole grain starchy carbs over white/processed carbs (the bread on most burgers for example), they have more nutritional value, fiber and often less calories overall without the high blood sugar and insulin spikes.
- You can buy a lot of this on sale if and when you like, grains keep really well, though you may want to keep them away from the sunlight or possibly frozen if you have huge quantities
Starchy Vegetables/Legumes (Great Substitutes for Starchy Carbs for Weight-Loss Objectives):
- Black Beans/Kidney Beans/Navy Beans
- Split Peas
- Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes
- And other root vegetables…
- Look for BPA-free cans of legumes if you like, or frozen peas. Lentils and Split Peas are faster to cook from dry.
- Green Tea (I especially like Matcha)
- Black Tea
- Black Coffee
- Herbal Teas (check labels)
- Black and White Pepper
- Sea Salt – Not really a spice… (Fleur de Sel is particularly nice, while regular table salt or kosher salt is great for soups and basic seasoning needs)
- Chili Powder
- Curry Powder
- Fennel Seed
- Bay Leaves
- Garlic and Ginger Powder (though not as good as the real thing, use as a backup)
- Chinese Five Spice
- Chili Flakes (for adding heat to dishes)
- Cayenne Pepper
- Mustard or Mustard Seed
- Curry Paste can be kept in the fridge
- Basic White
- Red Wine
- White Wine
- Rice Wine
- Apple Cider
- Unpasteurized Honey
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Tamari (Soy Sauce without the Wheat)
- Miso Paste (delicious…)
- Dried Fruit (better than reaching for sugar foods…)
- Canned Pumpkin (100% pure, avoid pumpkin pie filling…)
- Vegetable, Chicken and Beef broths (I use organic cubes, for simplicity…)
- Fish Sauce (Thai…)
- Chinese Cooking Wine
- Dijon and Grainy Mustard
- Lime and/or Lemon Juice
- Sriracha or other hot sauce like Frank’s Red Hot
Note on Milk:
- Almond Milk
- Soy Milk
- Rice Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Coconut Milk
Generally milk falls into a separate category. People often (in my opinion) make the mistake of believing Almond Milk or other ‘plant-based milks’ are a ‘health-food,’ which is kind of like saying Special K is a ‘health-food.’
It isn’t necessarily ‘healthy,’ just because it’s plant based. One of the most nutritious foods available to us is wild fish.
There is a wide discrepancy between various Milks. Rice and Soy milk for instance are quite high in simple carbohydrates.
While Whole and 2% Cows Milk, along with Hemp, Almond and Coconut Milk have more fat generally.
Skim Milk has an interesting balance of carbs and protein with little fat.
Milk is complicated, ideally though they are consumed with other whole foods. Coconut milk in curries or shakes for instance, is a nice touch and introduces a lot of healthy fats.
As to whether or not ‘Vegan’ or ‘Vegetarian’ (I prefer the term Plant-Based Diet) is the way to go. I think that for the most part, people should eat more veggies than they do.
At the same time, I think animal products get a bad rap from things like the China Study and the ethics surrounding consuming meat.
Instead of focusing specifically on what to eat, or having an ethical debate, I’d rather you think of how you’re eating.
The intent here is to reinforce what you should be focusing on eating, rather than focusing on what you should be ‘avoiding.’
One of the major pitfalls of all dieting programs, is telling you what you ‘can’t eat’ rather than focusing on what you should be eating.
If you eat these foods something like this as a rough guide, you’ll probably be in the clear in your weight-loss pursuits.
And if you need a hand, leave a comment or send a note.