(Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a series of articles on eating healthy without dieting.)
Proteins. Like the other macronutrients carbs and fats, our bodies depend on protein. Proteins, composed of amino acids, are foundational to the body for muscles, bones, hair, nails regulation and maintenance processes. There are two classes of protein, complete and incomplete, referring to whether or not they contain all nine essential amino acids.
Complete proteins come from animal sources. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy classify as complete proteins. We should eat mostly lean animal proteins, like poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, eggs (mostly whites) and lean beef or well-trimmed pork chops.
Incomplete proteins lack some of the 9 essential amino acids, and so they must be combined to ensure sufficient protein intake. These are plant- sourced proteins such as nuts, grains, legumes, seeds, some vegetables and meat substitutes like tofu, TVP, tempeh, etc. They are generally not considered significant sources of protein. If you are a vegetarian — I was for 10 years — then you must be diligent to combine and consume enough incomplete proteins for proper nutrition. Insufficient protein intake can lead to serious health issues. I experienced some of these in my vegetarian years.
Two more things …
Veggies. Vegetables are necessary to our diets for the vitamins and minerals they contain. The more dark, colorful veggies you eat, the more nutritious they are.
Stay away from too many starchy vegetables like white potatoes or corn and definitely eat more dark leafy greens (like spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, etc), tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli and beets.
Sodium. The AHA recommends 2,300mg or less of salt each day. Like sugar, the American diet contains too much sodium, and it’s very sneaky too. Salt is added to many foods, yet we can avoid consuming too much by taking a few simple steps.
Avoid processed and packaged foods. Eat fresh foods as much as possible. Check the ingredient lists for sodium content. Don’t use spices that contain salt. Choose lower-sodium foods when eating out, and never salt your food before tasting it.
I hope you are motivated by these nutrition suggestions and will try incorporating them into your eating. Give into those latest, greatest diet gimmicks no more!
Lainey Greer is a Ph.D student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Her blog is: https://greerlainey.wixsite. com/embodiment.