Eat Healthy and Enjoy Life

vegetablesWe’ve known for many years that certain foods promote good health — especially fruits, vegetables, fiber, plant oils, and whole grains. But the latest nutritional science shows that there is not a single “healthy diet.” Instead, there are many patterns of eating around the world that sustain good health. A healthy eating pattern also includes enough energy (calories) to fuel the body, but not so much as to cause weight gain.

In the past U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services nutrition guidelines were focused on nutrients.  The 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines (2010) were released at a time of rising concern about the health of the American population as we are experiencing an epidemic of overweight and obesity.

tomatoesObesity health issues include:

Type II Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Sleep Apnea, Osteoarthritis, Gall Bladder Disease, Fatty Liver Disease, Cancer, Asthma,Chronic headaches, Varicose veins, Coronary artery disease, Hernias, GERD  (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to overweight and obesity affecting  all age groups . Hence, the focus has shifted to weight control in the new guidelines.  The new slogan is “Calories in, calories out” and calorie control and daily physical activity  comprise the foundation. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 [PDF – 2.9MB] include these recommendations for foods to cut back on and foods to increase:

7 foods to reduce

1. Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

2. Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

3. Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.

4. Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.

5. Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.

6. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially those with solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.

7. If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men — and only by adults of legal drinking age.

grains nuts greens

8 foods and nutrients to increase

Eat more of these foods while staying within your calorie goals.

1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables, fruits, and beans and peas.

2. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

3. Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.

4. Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

5. Choose seafood in place of some meat and poultry.

6. Replace protein foods that are high in solid fats with proteins that are low in solid fats and calories.

7. Use healthy vegetable oils to replace solid fats where possible.

8. Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

fish dairy fruits

Eat real food. That’s the essence of today’s nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle: from a time when most people grew and prepared their own food to an era when processed, factory-made foods were celebrated (think Tang and TV dinners). Now, the nutrition pendulum has swung decisively back toward eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard’s Special Health Report Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition describes how to eat for optimum health.

Related posts found in this blog:
Meat Eaters: The Caveman Argument
The Best Overall Anti-Cancer Diet
Americans Tipping the Scales
Going Vegetarian
Diet for a Small Planet
Americans not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Eating Simply: Eating Well
Vegetarian Diets
Celebrate Earth Day with better food choices
In Defense of Real Food
Image credit


  1. Hello Timethief!

    Great article (as usual). Having to live a low-carb, low-fat, low-cal lifestyle is something I can do….but I’m allergic to seafood, cinnamon and allspice! It’s a challenge, but we’re getting there!

    I’ve been trying to eat the seven super foods every day (yogurt, berries, nuts, whole grains, tomatoes, dark greens & carrots). I don’t always succeed….but I’m getting there! Blogging has made a big difference regarding motivation! The information you provided was terrific. Thanks!

    The mandalas were absolutely lovely…I’m off to see the attached video!

    Best Regards,

  2. I became lacto-ovo vegetarian last April. I will agree that eating “real” food makes a HUGE difference with energy levels and satiety, which became evident even before adopting vegetarianism. I tend to eat when I’m hungry (versus for comfort or treats) and never have the urge to overeat. Back when I was eating crap, I tended to crave it.

    I went to a birthday party a few weekends ago, and of course there was cake. I was unable to eat the entire piece due to the extreme sweetness of the icing and a “chemical-like” flavor – maybe it was all in my head? The same goes for salt. I taste excessive salt where others are steadily adding more!

    Anyway, my current goal is to add more potassium to my diet due to a health issue. I always appreciate posts like this one because they keep me on course. Thanks for posting :-)

  3. Hello Sandra,
    I do recall the excellent articles you published on the connection between high oxylate foods and inflammation. You provided some valuable references and also shared your own experience. I trust your low oxylate diet is working well for you.

    I’m also tuned into my body. It seems what I am eating ie. very small portions of foods I know do not cause me digestive problems is working well for me. I particularly limit my intake of potatoes, tomatoes, most legumes and tree fruits. I have reduced inflammation and pain as a result.

    Best wishes to you in all you do.
    Love and peace,

    • Hello timethief
      It’s entirely understandable that you can’t always post right away, and I’m so sorry for your ongoing health issues. I can sympathise with you greatly as I too don’t enjoy good health (have just managed to fill in my profile now), so there is absolutely no need to apologise.

      I’ve been looking through your archived blogs and came across ‘Overcoming Chronic illness and Stress’ and completely agree with all the things you do to cope with the illness, as I do many of those things too. I always tell myself that life isn’t about my illness, but about my wellness and wellbeing, so that is how I choose to live, as you obviously do too. And what drew me to your blog in the first place was not the health aspect, although that is a useful and informative part of your blog, but all the other wonderful things you write about, much of which I share in thought and deed.

      Anyway, back to the current topic. We have some great farmers’ markets close by and often we go into the countryside to buy farm produce. We do buy organic where possible, but I never entirely trust the claim. One day, when we move house, I’ll start up a greenhouse again, as that not only gives loads of pleasure cultivating things from seeds, but I know exactly what’s gone into it, mostly loving care Lol. The area in which you live sounds absolutely beautiful and I imagine it to be so peaceful, surrounded by nature as you are.

      Well, I’m going to doodle a mandala now, as your most recent enjoyable post has aroused colourful thoughts and patterns in my mind.

      Hope today is a good day for you timethief.
      Sending warm, healing vibes your way.
      Crystal xx
      PS: Hi to Sandra, I would be very interested in your article re oxylate diet, if you could kindly provide a link.

  4. Hi timethief,

    It’s fascinating to read about the shift to foods to reduce in our diet and I agree wholeheartedly with this list. I also agree fully with the conclusion “to eat real food.”

    At the same time, from my own roller coaster ride with diet, I’ve come to learn that the best approach for me is to tune into and listen to the signals from my own body. I cannot eat grains and many fruits and vegetables because they are high in oxalates, which can contribute to pain and inflammation in those who are susceptible. It took me a long time to sort out that what’s healthy for me is not necessarily what’s healthy for the next person. But I’m so glad I did as it’s reduced my pain levels remarkably.

    Thanks for this excellent overview.

  5. Hello Timethief
    We chatted briefly on the forum if you remember, when you kindly replied to a query, so now after having read much of your wonderful blog, I just wanted to drop by to say Hi.

    This particular topic re diet is close to my own heart and I agree with all you say here. Like some of you have said, GM foods creeping into the food chain is particularly worrying, as is the more recent controversy of meat and dairy products derived from cloned animals possibly entering the food chain and being sold in supermarkets, both in the USA and Europe. Here in the UK, supermarkets have avowed not to stock such produce and are taking up the matter with the EU in Brussels. I consider it totally wrong that this type of thing can be foisted upon the general public, not to mention the welfare rights of the animals and the ethical issues that arise.

    The other issue I’m keenly absorbed in right now is the idea of food synergy and am reading a fascinating book called Food Synergy by Elaine Magee. Briefly, the science behind this is that certain superfoods that have already been recognised, can have their potency vastly increased when coupled with another food. It seems that certain enzymes have specific reactions and boosting agents when paired together. It’s well worth looking into.

    Sorry for the long post, but your subject matter is so interesting, as is all of your blog.

    • Hello Crystal,
      Thank you so much for visiting, reading and commenting. I’m pleased to meet you.

      Normally I do answer comments much more promptly than I have this time. Suffice to say I have some health issues and spent a lot of time coming and going to medical appointments last week. By the time evenings rolled around I was far too drained to answer comments or to blog. I simply deleted spam, moderated and approved comments, and said little prayer of gratitude for each one as I did so.

      When it comes to GMO products I doubt that most people realize they are abundant in the food chain. Example: The first genetically modified soybeans were planted in the United States in 1996. More than ten years later, GM soybeans are planted in nine countries covering more than 60 million hectares. These GM soybeans possess a gene that confers herbicide resistance. Over half of the world’s 2007 soybean crop (58.6%) was genetically modified, a higher percentage than for any other crop. The United States (85%) and Argentina (98%) produce almost exclusively GM soybeans. In these countries, GM soybeans are approved without restrictions and are treated just like conventional soybeans. From GMO Compass

      One way to avoid genetically engineered food is to buy organic. Not all organically produced foods are certified as such but I have found many small farmers in my own community do produce organic foods minus the certification label. Another is to way to avoid genetically engineered food is shop at Farmers’ markets know the foregoing. Farmers markets are essential because they serve as an outlet to bring together food producers and consumers. I have access to locally produced, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meats and my costs are reduced because I’m buying directly from the farmers. I also have access to fresh caught fish and shellfish.

      I haven’t read Food Synergy but I have seen several books by the same author on library shelves so I will ad it to my reading list. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting too.

  6. Food –popular topic. How much has your diet changed TiTi over the years? Mine has, both for better and in other areas for worse. For instance 25 years, I ate way less desserts with sugar. Now I eat more of it –some of it is habit (biscotti with my morning coffee on my way to work), etc.

    On the other hand, for my own health to reduce high glycemic diet tendencies (and after having a near false diabetes 2 blood test result), I hardly eat any white rice. I just don’t feel well anymore..after a nice selection of sushi. This is in total contrast to how I ate for first 30 years of life –a bowl of rice or 2 nearly 80% of my dinners. Used to be almost daily.

    I should watch salt intake.

    I had three-quarters of pop last week…after not having pop for last 3 years. It was a function at work. With pizza. As long as I keep this “bad” stuff 1-3 times per year or less.

    Yes, absolutely eat real food. It’s always a real eye opener to look at people’s grocery shopping carts while standing in line.

    What shocks a person is various parts of North America, the restaurants truly do super-size their meals. It’s highly noticeable when we travel into the U.S.

    So portion control is key also.

    Also engaging in personal passions that don’t focus solely on food helps. Does that include blogging? :)

    • Hi Jean,
      My diet has not changed much for 30 years. That’s because when we moved to a community where there aren’t any fast food franchises and has no big box cost cutter stores we quickly recognized we must grow food and/or buy it from local producers.

      I did go through a period of time where I attempted to be vegan but that ended in a bad place. I developed anemia, lost a lot of weight and became every ill. I ended up in hospital where it was discovered that I lacked the digestive enzymes required to break down vegetable sources of vitamin V. the supplements did not work for me. In the end I became an ovo-lacto vegetarian 3 or 4 days of the week and ate meat and fish the remaining days. That’s how we eat now too.

      Like you I probably favor adding too much salt on my food but we rarely use it in the cooking. I only sprinkle it on afterwards to my partner’s disgust. lol ;)

      P.S. Thanks for waiting so long for me to reply. I had a very busy week filled with medical appointments and I also had company.

  7. I am at an age where eating poorly really wreaks havoc with my system. In some ways, I am quite happy about that, as it means that I have to be more careful about what I eat – and need to redefine the meaning of ‘convenience foods’.
    When I eat ‘real food’ and follow the type of eating pattern that you describe, I have more energy, stay alert longer, and probably think and create more effectively. Great post.

  8. Could not agree more! I am very big on fresh food. All this genetic mofication of food worries me. We may not know the real impact for years to come.

    I noticed your link to not enough Americans eating fresh fruit and vegetables. One of the things that has always astounded me is the number of times a week Americans eat out. I remember looking for a place to rent in Mountain View when I was looking at relocating – trying to find anything with room for a decent dining table was very difficult.

    I also read a report (I have lost the link, I am sorry) about there being no fresh food available in many of the poorer areas and no public transport to travel to buy fresh food.

    I must admit I think we are very lucky here as far as fresh food goes.

    Eating healthily in times of stress is very important, yet that is one area I am struggling with. I’ve never been very good at cooking for one, yet give me someone to cook for and I off and running. I must try harder. Your post is a timely reminder!

    • I’m also disturbed by GMO products coming into the food stream. I’m into growing, buying and eating whole foods. The farmers’ market is a great place to buy foods that have been grown locally. My hubby does almost all of the cooking and he’s good at it. :) We rarely eat out and when we do it’s a treat. We like foods that we can cook and flavour to our own taste. We don’t eat processed or prepared stuff.

  9. Thanks, TT. This is a lot of useful information to consider. I’ve been trying to balance these kinds of facts with my intent to eat more without contributing to cruelty and killing. We have all kinds of teeth. Genetically, we are omnivores. I do consume dairy products and eggs because these are donated by living animals, though I try to make sure to only buy the product of less cruel harvesting such as free-range. I also eat seafood, though I may start restricting that to wild/raw because farmed fish lead caged lives. It’s a complicated moral issue, but that’s all right. We are the animals that excel in considering complexities.

    I know you are aware of these aspects of the issue, as you generally act to honor all forms of spirit in flesh. Just thought I would take the opportunity to take this fine article to a deeper level.

    • Thanks for this Mikey. I acknowledge the moral issue. Most people live in urban places. They are very distant from the sources of their food and don’t see any animals being raised or fish being caught like I do. I am thankful that I can make healthy choices — many can’t.

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