What “Rules” Do You Eat By?

Here are some of the “Rules” I Eat By – and by “rule” I don’t mean “unbreakable rule”, just something to aspire to as much as possible…

There is so much nutrition and food info available from both professionals (nutritionists/dietitians) and non-professionals, that it can seem like everyone is an expert.  While there certainly are some things that everyone can agree on (for example, “everyone should eat more veggies, and drink more water”, and “fast food is horrible for everyone”), there still seems to be a lot of conflicting info.

So, what is a conscientious food-eater to do?

I came across this simple, comprehensive resource from Weed ‘em & Reap that I wanted to share with you.  You can put it on your fridge and/or bring with you to the farmer’s market or grocery store.  It is: the “Good, Better, Best Principle“.

Good Better Best Principle

Good Better Best Principle

There are lots of reasons why I really like this. 

The first reason is because it takes into consideration something that many people don’t – REALITY.  It is not an “all or nothing” approach, nor is it “preachy”, “judgy” or prescriptive. If some of your day-to-day eating habits are in the “bad” category, you can easily refer to it and see how you can bump up to a “good” or “better” category.  On the other hand, if you want the “best” quality ingredient, and it’s not available, well, you can seek out the “better” option before going to the “good” one.

The beauty of this is that you start from whereever you are!

There are so many reasons why people, including myself (who lives on an island), can’t always get the highest quality foods (availability, price, etc.), so this chart provides a clear strategy on the “next best” options. 

  • So, if I can’t get organic fresh berries to add to my blueberry cheesecake muffins, should I give up and substitute with chocolate chips?  What about using conventional berries?  Or better yet, frozen organic berries?  The answer is simple – refer to this chart!
  • What if I didn’t prepare the pancake batter the night before, and I don’t have time to soak my flour in the morning?  Should I just resort to a mass-produced pre-packaged non-organic sugary pancake mix?  Or is it better if I make it myself, even if unsoaked, using organic 100% whole grain flour?  Again, I can refer to the chart.

Another thing about this “Good, Better, Best Principle” is that it can apply to everyone, regardless of food allergies, intolerances, or other dietary restrictions.  If you can’t eat dairy, simply ignore the dairy row.  If you’re vegetarian, simply ignore the meat row. Just look at the rows that refer to the foods you eat, and choose your foods accordingly.

There are a couple of other resources that this “Good, Better, Best Principle” refers to – I’ve linked them here:

  1. Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, which tests fresh produce for pesticide residues – after they are washed.  If you want to reduce your pesticide exposure, these are the 12 fruits/veggies that are the “dirtiest” and you should buy organic (or grow yourself).  They also have a “Clean 15” list which are the 15 fruits and veggies with the smallest amount of pesticide residues.  Items on the Clean 15 list can always be purchased as conventionally-grown produce if you choose.  Note that the EWG updates these lists annually, so come back to the site next year to find an update.
  2. Properly prepared grains, nuts, beans and seeds” includes soaking, sprouting or sour-leavening. Here are a few references as to how this can be done.

These Good, Better, Best Principles are by no means the only “Rules” I Eat By (seeing as I’m studying to be a nutritionist).  If you’re so inclined to take your nutritional wellness even further, I would recommend these links too:

  • If you want to be even simpler, you can go with Michael Pollan’s eating haiku from his book In Defense of Food which goes:  “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants”.
  • In addition to the Dirty Dozen, here is a link that also includes 13 foods that are most likely to be GMO.  So, Nadia at Body Unburdened recommends 25 foods to buy organic.
  • Here is a list of the dietary guidelines from the Weston A Price Foundation.
  • Here is a link to Canadian and North American Fish Advisories which looks at fish contamination.  Hint: I personally only buy wild-caught fresh/frozen, or BPA-free canned wild seafood – regardless of its country of origin.  (Here’s one of the benefits of living on an island – lots of fresh wild-caught seafood).
  • Here is a great resource on fats called the “Cooking Oil Comparison Chart”. It is a one-page diagram that shows how good each oil is for you (healthier at the top), and how heat-stable they are (more heat-stable are at the right).

These are some of my favourite (not always unbreakable) “Rules” to Eat By (many are also available in my “Food & Nutrition Resources” page). What are yours?

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