Do you remember the food pyramid? It told us that grains and simple carbohydrates were the foundation of good nutrition. Warned us that fats were something to be avoided. Encouraged us to snack on rice cakes and popcorn. But is that information still true? We’d like to help serve up some understanding when it comes to nutrition. After all, food is truly the first medicine, and physicians need to start there. So, how about we rethink the food pyramid together?
Let’s start at the top with the myth that fats should only be a small part of your meal. In that first pyramid fats were the smallest section, the tip of the pyramid. The truth is that our bodies actually need healthy fats as they provide the necessary building blocks for our cell membranes and a variety of hormones that are critical to our health.
Certain healthy fats like, Omega-3 oils are especially important as we can not make them ourselves. So, we look to what is on our plate or in our supplements to help us get these essential fats. Sources of Omega- 3 fats include animal proteins like salmon and sardines as well as plant sources such as coconut oil, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts, to name a few.
Healthy fats provide a concentrated source of energy in our diets. When we eat fats as part of our meals, we feel fuller for longer, which helps curb cravings and overeating.
In addition, these types of fats act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K and are needed for mineral absorption along with a host of other biological processes. That said, fats need to be used in moderation. Unsaturated fats can be used more liberally than saturated fats. Knowing the details of what fats to eat is important.
Now let’s look at the good and the bad about carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, and rice, turn into sugar very quickly in our bodies and easily add to insulin resistance. That process also contributes to many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, are excellent to eat as they provide many nutrients and take a longer time to become sugar in our system. You see, when it comes to carbohydrates, it helps to understand that not all carbs are created equally.
Simple carbohydrates can find their way onto our plate through foods that are highly processed and contain simple sugars and white flour, such as; candy, many baked goods, pasta, sauces, and dressings. These types of carbs may cause our blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Even snacking on popcorn and crackers may seem innocent as they can give a boost of energy, like a candy bar, but it is short-lived. Shortly later you will often develop cravings and overeating which can derail your healthy eating habits and slow down your wellness journey. So, what should you snack on?
Healthy fats combined with protein such as nuts or with complex carbs such as roasted kale chips are a far better snack that can give excellent fuel for sustained energy and decreased cravings. Have almond butter with apples or raspberries with a few walnuts to keep cravings away later and actually help your health.
For now, this more modern update to the food pyramid, produced by Harvard Health, is a good place to start changing how we understand what we should eat. Take a look.
Yes, that is wine! We’ll get to late later.
Here at the Annapolis Center for Restorative Medicine, we pride ourselves on being your partners on the wellness journey. It all starts with what you put in your body. If you’d like to learn more before our next article, call to set up a discovery visit with Dr. Eichelberger today.