The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Healthy Eating Over 50 Years

I’m not a scientist, nor am I a medical professional. I just love well-prepared food and a feeling of good health. I like to read and test out on myself theories that make sense and judge them based on experience.

These are the 10 things I’ve learned about healthy, satisfying eating over more than fifty years of experimenting with myself, my family and friends and in my cafe:

  1. Eat real food. By real food, I mean whole foods from the earth as little manipulated as possible other than by your own preparation and cooking processes.
  2. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. There is a delay before the satisfaction message reaches your brain. Allow for that.
  3. If you’re not satisfied after meals and if you experience cravings, something needs adjusting in your diet.
  4. Be careful about eliminating categories of food from your diet. There’s a lot of “fake news” about the disaster that will overtake you when you eat certain foods. There’s also a lot of imperfect nutritional knowledge.
  5. Be careful about eliminating “food” categories, that is, except for added sweets of all kinds, natural and artificial. Get rid of those as much as you can. That includes most commercially processed foods.
  6. Eat fiber. When appropriate and possible, buy organic and don’t peel things.
  7. Don’t let the excuse that you can’t afford organic fruits and veggies stand in the way of eating them. It’s much more important to consume those whole foods than it is to avoid chemical residues. For the path of moderation, ewg.org provides a Dirty Dozen list of the worst offenders, updated each year.
  8. Aim for at least 80% plant foods in your diet.
  9. Nuts and seeds and avocados are your friends. They are the best source of healthy fats.
  10. Enjoy your meals! Remember, it’s always a work in progress. You learn more, we all learn more, we get lazy and need system rechecks and adjustments, perfection is never a possibility, and if you put healthy whole foods on your table, you can savor the taste and experience instead of counting calories or “carbs.”

I have found the best way for me to experience healthy, satisfied pleasure from what I eat is to work with my CSA. On the days I spend out in the field, I often accumulate 15,000 steps or more. I feel the wind and the sun and the rain. I enjoy the beauty and the colors that surround me. I have my hands in the food chain and can’t imagine much that is more satisfying than knowing I have a direct relationship to the food I eat and feed my family.

Best of all, I am challenged to use 3/4 bushel of seasonal produce and more every week. I try things that are new to me, that I’ve seen in stores but haven’t bought because they were unfamiliar. There just isn’t a way to eat more healthfully than by using up my box of beautiful whole foods that I had a hand in producing.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

4 thoughts on “The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Healthy Eating Over 50 Years”

  1. It’s easy to see how being part of a CSA would make it easier to eat healthier. It’s something we’re going to seriously consider in the new year.

    1. If you do decide to go with a CSA, talk to me! We are chemical- and GMO-free. The food is picked no more than 18 hours before you get it — 3/4 bushel every week of the season if you choose — or different arrangements. If you’re not vegetarian or vegan, they have a plan that can include raw milk and/or eggs and/or meat, all grown or raised 9 minutes from where I live. If it’s not close enough to you, I can arrange to get food to a convenient location regardless of what the specified drop-off points are. Both parts of the operation put out a newsletter – my portion is the veggie side, but Cliff, on the livestock and dairy side also puts out a weekly newsletter. Lots of help for figuring out ways to use everything!

    1. It’s fascinating, Ana, how the advice of my favorite doc – drfuhrman.com – happens to coincide with a book I’m reading lately, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli history prof. He says hunter-gatherers were healthier and happier than we – shorter work days, loads of activity, a much more varied diet — and at least 70%+ plant foods. Fuhrman says 80-90% plant foods, but we’re also comparatively sedentary. If you haven’t read Harari, btw, and like theoretical stuff — it’s a great read!

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