I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a self proclaimed foodie, and she asked me, “Are you one of those people that eat to live, or do you live to eat?” I’d never heard it worded quite like that before, but I guess she was asking me whether I eat simply to survive, or do I eat for the enjoyment of eating. I answered her with a very reluctant, “I eat to live” and the conversation ended there.
For some reason, her question haunted me and I’ve given it a lot more thought since. If I could travel through time back to that moment, I would answer her with a very confident,”I eat to live AND I live to eat.” I really think that you can eat tasty food and thoroughly enjoy yourself, while still paying attention to what nutrition your body needs to function. The first step is actually knowing what good nutrition looks like. The following is a basic guide to nutrition. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it provides a basic template to start down the road to healthier lifestyle.
1. Vegetables 4-6 servings a day
1/2 c cooked or 1 c raw of the following: kale, collard greens, spinach, cabbage, chard, romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, tomato
2. Fruits 4-6 servings a day
4oz of any organic fruit juice, 3/4c berries, 1/4 cantaloupe, 1 whole orange, 1 whole lemon or lime, 3/4c grapes, 2tbsp raisins, dates, or dried fruit.
3. Whole Grains 6-8 servings a day
1/2c cooked oatmeal, 1/2c cooked rice, 1/2c cooked whole grain pasta, 1 slice of bread, 1 whole grain muffin, 1 whole grain tortilla
4. Proteins 1-2 servings a day
8oz tofu, 2c soy milk, 1c yogurt with live cultures, 1-2c cooked dried beans or peas, 1/2c almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, 4tbsp peanut butter
If you’re just starting out, I suggest that you make a serving of food from each of the groups, so that you can visualize what these proportions really mean (remember, smoothies count y’all!). There is no such thing as a one size fits all nutritional plan, so you just have to play around with the basics until you find what’s right for you. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years, and I know people that simply CANNOT survive on a vegetarian diet. I can dig that, so I never pressure anyone to conform to strict dietary rules. The one thing that I really firmly believe is that everyone should limit processed foods, and eat or drink at least 2c of veggies and 2c of fruit a day. That’s not so bad, right?