10 Essentials for Best Nutrition

“If I cannot do everything nutritionally (I’m overly busy, don’t care about it most of the time) what are the most important foods/drinks/supplements that I should focus on for optimal health?”

Focus on categories versus specific foods, drinks and supplements.  Here are the essentials:

1. Fruits and vegetables (everyday, at every meal)

  • Focus on dark green and orange
  • Tip: the darker the pigment, the more nutrients they have

2. Fish (> twice a week)

3. Less red meat (1-2x per week) 

  • Focus on other lean protein sources such as, poultry, turkey, fish, legumes and beans as a replacement
  • Tip: if you ate it for lunch, try something else for dinner

4. Make all your grains whole grains (everyday)

  • Focus on whole wheat, whole grain carbohydrates
  • Tip: white carbs are only useful post-workout in a sensible portion

5. Fat-free or low fat dairy (everyday)

  • Focus on yogurts, milk and cheese
  • Tip: if you do not eat dairy, look for alternative calcium/vitamin D sources such as almonds, sardines and spinach.  This is where a supplement might come in handy

6. Limit liquid calories with little nutrition (limit: sodas and alcohol)

  • Focus on tea, coffee, seltzer and water to hydrate
  • Tip: a diet soda is okay to replace a regular soda as long as consumption is sensible (1-2 per day)

7. Whole food snacks (everyday)

  • Focus on non-packaged foods
  • Tip: try nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and homemade foods

8. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you really love (include them sensibly)

  • Focus on a few favorite foods in appropriate portions
  • Tip: abiding by serving sizes helps in this game so as not to overeat later on

9. Use monounsaturated oils (most days of week)

  • Focus on olive and canola oil to cook with or dress up salads
  • Tip: monounsaturated oils are heart healthy; many salad dressings are the opposite of this

10. Use supplements sparingly

  • No supplements needed if you follow the above bullet-points (unless pregnant or with chronic disease)
  • Tip: A standard multivitamin (3x per week) is okay if you really think you need one for piece of mind
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