Now that we’ve talked about foods that do more harm than good, and we’ve covered the implication these foods can have on your gut health, it’s time to talk about foods that you can eat that will have you feeling like a million bucks. Even better, there are a ton of tasty, delicious options that will comply with your new dietary lifestyle.
If you’re newly diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, your head is likely swimming — new diagnosis, new dietary restrictions, and/or a whole new lifestyle — these are big things! Rest easy. We’re here to help. Let’s get started.
Your grocery list is going to go through some changes. A metamorphosis, really. Depending on what you’re used to eating, the changes might seem really awesome or equally as awful. Think of this new way of eating as an upgrade. (Stay with me here.) This new way of eating is going to taste different. It’s going to require different preparation techniques. But mostly, it’s going to fuel your body and keep it in tiptop shape. Think of this as a dietary upgrade. Putting really great things in your body is going to pay dividends for years and years.
Start your grocery list with your primary protein source — meat, fish, and eggs. As with any food, organic, grass-fed is always best. However, those things aren’t always available and/or are out of reach financially. It’s not the end of the world. Choose the best, most sustainably sourced protein you can. Avoid processed meat products, as these often times contain sugar and other undesirable ingredients that almost no one can pronounce.
Next, make your produce list. This will be a little easier than the stop at your meat counter. Most fruits and vegetables are fair game, with the exception of most legumes (green beans and green peas are technically a legume, but for whatever reason, most people do just fine eating them.) and soybeans. Some folks are a little more sensitive to nightshade veggies (the most common nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants), while others eat them with no problem whatsoever.
This is a perfect opportunity to practice listening to what your body likes and doesn’t like. How will you know if your body doesn’t like one of these foods? Your body will make it loud and clear. It’s up to you to listen. It may come in the form of gas pains in your stomach, or an eczema breakout on your back. It might mean an itchy scalp or bloating or just general malaise. Regardless of the signal it sends, be prepared to listen and adjust accordingly.
Listening to your body is key all the time, but even more so when you’re first starting out on a ‘Food as Medicine’ regimen.
Next, let’s talk fats. For best results, be selective with fats. Just say no to vegetable oil and yes to coconut oil! Avocado oil and ghee are also excellent choices. Your cooking fats and oils just got a whole lot more interesting! But if you’re looking to play it safe, olive oil is A-OK, too.
And don’t forget about nut butters — these nutty dudes pack a nutritional punch and are full of good fats. Make sure to read your labels, though. Some nut butters sneak sugar in while no one’s looking.
Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting (read: grocery shopping), it’s time to put a plan in place. Meal planning is paramount, especially when you’re first starting out. But because we think you’re the bee’s knees, we’re going to make it super simple for you — a meal template! This way, you aren’t locked in to a million unfamiliar ingredients and can have some ownership of what you’re eating each week.
Here’s how the template works:
Eat three meals per day, starting with a good, filling breakfast. Base each meal around 1 – 2 palm-sized protein sources. Fill the rest of your plate with vegetables. Occasionally, add a serving of fruit. Add fat in the following recommended amounts per meal:
- All oils and cooking fats (olive oil, animal fats, etc.): 1 – 2 thumb-sized portions
- All butters (ghee, coconut butter, nut butters, etc.): 1 – 2 thumb-sized portions
- Coconut (shredded or flaked): 1 – 2 open (heaping) handfuls
- Olives: 1 – 2 open (heaping) handfuls
- Nuts and seeds: Up to one closed handful
- Avocado: ½ – 1 avocado
- Coconut milk: Between ¼ and ½ of one 14-ounce can
And there you go! Just as simple as that. I feel like it’s only fair to warn you: you’re going to be cooking much more than before, so when you find a recipe that you really like, go ahead and double it. Your tomorrow self will thank your today self for being so thoughtful.
But let’s not kid, we all know that you’re eventually going to find yourself out to dinner. At a restaurant. Without control of how your food is prepared.
Breathe. Let’s talk through it.
Ordering out a restaurant can be tricky when you’re trying to eliminate inflammatory foods. But it shouldn’t be something we avoid just because we’re eating cleaner. Dining out with friends and/or family is a social activity and there’s no better time than the present to face the challenge head on. And in the age of technology (that’s today, y’all), it’s easier than it’s ever been.
Here are a few steps that will make dining out a little less scary:
- Check the restaurant’s web site before you go: this way, you can choose what you’d like to order beforehand. And if you’d like to make any requests or substitutions, you won’t be taken off guard. Preparation is key!
- Search Yelp or other local user-based review sites for compliant restaurants: this one is especially helpful if you’ve not dined out as a ‘glunten-free-er’ or a ‘Paleo-er’, etc.
- Scope out the salad selection: when in doubt, entrée salads are almost always a safe choice. And as a bonus, any substitutions you might need to make should be pretty simple.
- Always express gratitude: there’s a really good chance that you’re going to need to alter something on your dish. In any case, especially this one, expressing your gratitude both vocally and through a good tip, will go a long way towards making your waiter a little more understanding.
Your new way of eating isn’t a hindrance — it’s freedom. Yes, it’s going to take some getting used to, but man, you’re going to feel like a champ once your system is free of the junk that was slowing it down.
You’re a lion. You’re a tiger. You’re a liger. (Not an actual animal.) In all seriousness, give clean eating a shot and in about 14 days, you’re going to feel so good, you won’t know what to do with yourself. Good food equals clean-burning fuel for the body.
Fill ‘er up.
*For compliant recipes, grocery lists, and more, visit pinterest.com/TwentyPercenter/