I did it! After 20 years of remaining diet agnostic and believing strongly that there is NOT one type of diet that is right for everybody but that everybody has their own RIGHT DIET, I’ve finally landed on a set of principles that I truly feel everybody can benefit from! Let me introduce you to the Clean and Colorful Concept and the 4 Universal Diet Truths. Hallelujah!
You can watch this 5 part video series if you’re not in the mood to read this post 😉
The problem with “diets”
I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve helped a lot of people learn to make smarter decisions. But until now, it hasn’t been a very simple process to follow. Trying on different “diets” to see which one fits best requires commitment and patience.
- Do you feel better if you eliminate all animal protein and go vegan?
- Is gluten causing inflammation in your body and you’ll feel better if it’s completely eradicated from your diet?
- Is following a high protein or even a ketogenic diet something you should consider?
These may seem like simple questions but the answers are complicated only because there simply is a different one for every living body on this planet. What works for me, may not work for you. The time and energy we’ve committed to trying (and often failing) new diets can be exhausting, time consuming and in the end, frustrating.
My struggle as a “diet agnostic” health coach
My problem has stemmed from this complicated set of answers. Not having a clearly defined set of principles that everybody can benefit from has made messaging, and in essence, helping people — hard! But over the years I’ve learned of a certain set of practices that can improve the diet and lifestyle quality of everybody who dares to incorporate them into their life. So I decided to roll those four clearly defined principles into one simple philosophy that at the end of the day, everybody can benefit from.
4 Universal Diet Truths = 1 Diet Philosophy that Everybody can Benefit From!
We all know “diets don’t work” right?
But really, what does that even mean? If we start by defining the term “diet:”
1. Eat less processed food.
So what exactly is a processed food anyway?
- Would your grandmother (or great grandmother depending on your age) know what do to with it or how to cook it?
- Does it have an ingredients list? If so, how many things are on it and how many syllables does each of the ingredients have?
Best case: aim for foods with no ingredients list that your grandma knows how to cook it. For example vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, lean cuts of meet, eggs, etc. If it has an ingredients list, look for things that are real food. And if not, the things with less syllables…like 3 max.
This rule is great in many ways because it will essentially keep you from eating mindless cookies, chips and crackers and high calorie, easy to prepare tasty treats like microwaveable egg rolls, taquitos and chicken fingers.
It also means if you really want one of those treats, you can go collect the ingredients (eggs, sugar, butter, flour, chicken, raw chocolate, etc.) and make them! I’m not here to say the occasional cookie is a bad idea, and if you’re going to go through the trouble of making something, then you A) really want it and B) you earned it!
Its the mindless consumption of readily available snacks that is the larger problem than the snack itself. Plus, when you prepare your own food, you know EXACTLY what it took to make it which gives you full control over your food supply.
Do you really have to eliminate all processed foods to be healthy?
That’s a tough one because some processed foods are just a necessary part of real life and some are in fact, produced in a very responsible manner. Even in my quest for ultimate health and happiness, I used processed foods on a daily basis, but I try to be very mindful of what they are and why they are necessary (i.e. protein powder). And this is why the principle is stated eat LESS processed food. Complete elimination could become too difficult and unrealistic and that would stifle positive action. Not my goal. So just aim to eat less. Deal?
2. Eat all 5 colors everyday.
What does this look like in real life? I can really be this simple:
- RED Breakfast: Overnight Oats with with Berries.
- ORANGE Snack: Peaches and Cottage Cheese.
- YELLOW Lunch: Yellow Pepper Stuffed with Shrimp Salad
- GREEN Snack: Green Juice
- INDGO Dinner: Pasta with Eggplant
Think about this before you eat anything:
- Does this count as a color for the day?
- If not, how can I add color to make it count?
That simple thought process will having you naturally eating more fresh produce than ever before. It will change the way you walk through the produce aisle at the market. You’ll start to see veggies you never saw before and wonder what you can cook with them. Added fat, animal products and even grains will start to become the side dishes and natures finest will become your main focus. It’s so fun!
3. Swap 1 snack or meal per day with a juice or smoothie.
4. Exercise at least 21-Minutes per day, 6 days a week.
- An hour could be a barrier to someone getting started, I mean it is kind of a long time. But who can’t find 21 minutes in a day? And once you get started, you might feel so good you magically find more time.
- Exercise is a keystone, good habit. When you do it, you’re more likely to make smarter decisions the rest of the day. And at the very core of habit formation is the frequency in which you partake and the routines you create.
And I say 6 days a week. But if you’re not active at all, start with 1-2 and go from there. You don’t need to be running marathons or sweating it out in a cross-fit box to be improving your health through fitness. You just need to be moving.