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When you can walk through the grocery store and find everything from fresh fruits and veggies to neon-colored double-stuffed Oreo cookies, it’s no wonder we are all so confused about food. Add influencers from social media and a new study everyday showing contracting nutrition information, and most of us just choose to stop trying and just buy the easy-to-make items. Yet amidst all the food noise, there are indeed some fundamentals of healthy eating that have remained unchanged and should honestly be your focus before diving into the latest dietary trend. In our second of three posts in our ‘Back to Basics’ series, we are shifting gears from fitness to nourishment as another key component of your well-being. And if you don’t have time to read the entire post, we will give you the punchline right here: eat more fiber, eat less sugar and eat enough quality proteins and fats. Need a bit more in the details? Read on…

Meeting Fiber Recommendations

Fiber is often skipped over in dietary prescriptions that focus on the macros of carbs, fats and fiber. But in our opinion, fiber is THE carb to be focused on. It plays a crucial role in digestive health, weight management, and overall disease prevention. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 25-30 grams of fiber per day, but do you know how many grams the average American eats? Only 12-14. Yikes, we have some work to do. To meet your fiber needs, aim to eat 4-5 cups of veggies every single day. We know that sounds like a lot but consider the fact that 2 cups of spinach cooks down to more like 1/2 cup total or that a half cup of cauliflower rice can be blended into a fruit smoothie without every knowing it’s in there. If you have 2 cups at lunch and at dinner that leaves another cup for snack or even to come from other high fiber foods like quinoa, buckwheat, beans, oats and nuts. Even the beloved avocado boasts about 5g fiber per serving! Grab some bell peppers with that guacamole and get that fiber in!

Minimizing Added Sugar and Ultra-Processed Foods

Excessive intake of sugar and ultra-processed foods has become a pervasive concern in modern diets and is one of the dominant causes of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. While meeting your fiber needs certainly helps counter the effects of sugar and low fiber processed foods, here are some tips to keep these less nourishing food choices in check. Recommendations for added sugar intake are MAXIMUM of 6 teaspoons per day for women, 9 teaspoons per day for men and just 4 teaspoons per day for kiddos over the age of 2 (no sugar is recommended under the age of 2). Consider that a typical flavored yogurt has about 4 added teaspoons of sugar per serving and if you have that with some sweet granola on top and perhaps a sweetened coffee drink for breakfast, you may have already met your added sugar maximum before 10am. When it comes to food labels, look for items with less than 4g added sugar per serving and an ingredient list that has items you might otherwise have in your kitchen, rather than ingredients that look like they belong in a science lab.

Embrace High Quality Protein & Fats

When it comes to protein and fats, quality counts. For animal proteins, whether it is a ruminant, poultry or fish, a sick animal produces inflamed, sick meat, while a health animal produces nourishing meat. So look for grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild on those labels. For plant proteins, variety is the key here since most do not include all amino acids. Try different kinds of beans and lentils, add quinoa, buckwheat and millet to your grain mix, and remember that soy products should be organic. When it comes to oils, always reach for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed to make sure you are getting an oil that is not already oxidized but instead will provide nourishment to your gut and cells.

Key Principles of Nourishing Eating Habits

While ‘what’ you choose to eat certainly matters, ‘how’ you choose to eat makes an impact too. Learning to listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues, understanding portions and practicing mindful eating are all habits that will serve you in the long run. Working with experts on breath work and mind-body techniques such as yoga and Pilates is also beneficial as those practices then translate over to mealtime. More on the basics of breath and stress resilience in our next post in this series – Back to Basics: Stress Resilience.


In our world of conflicting information and more products that we can keep track of, returning to the basics of true nourishment is more important than ever. Supplements, cleanses and fasting protocols will do you no good if you have not laid down a foundation of nourishing habits first. Focus on the fiber, minimize added sugar and embrace high quality proteins and fats, all in a mindful and body-positive way whenever you can and allow yourself to find joy in the simplicity of real, whole foods that nourish us from the inside out.


Previously in this Back to Basic Series: Fitness, Exercise & Functional Movement

Next in this Back to Basics Series: Building Stress Resilience


More on this topic:

Good Mood Food

“Ultraprocessed Foods: Convenience at What Cost?”

“The Role of Fiber in Disease Prevention & Condition Management”

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