The other day, Dr. Misty and I were talking about the food pyramid, and it made us wonder what our own pyramid would look like. What would be at the bottom? What do we eat most? And what comes next? And what do we eat the least of?
This is not necessarily how we would recommend everyone else to eat, but it works well for us. It ended up being a good exercise to help us take inventory of our food habits. Sometimes we get stuck in a routine and if we don’t check-in every now and then, we might develop some bad habits.
Nutrition can affect how your joints and muscles feel, so we often talk to our patients about nutrition and healthy eating. We thought our patients might be interested in seeing how we eat to keep ourselves healthy and feeling good. Here’s what our food pyramid ended up looking like:
Let Me Explain
Before you start picking our pyramid apart, please note that the pyramid is not to scale, and we didn’t spend a bunch of time thinking about this, and this is not any recommendation for how you should/could eat. But if you’re interested in how we sorted our pyramid list, read on.
This is the big one for us. I know; it’s not a food. But we try to bring it to the table with us every time we eat. Basically, we try to always be aware of what we’re eating and why we’re eating it, even if it’s something like “I’m aware that I am eating a half a bag of chips, and that totally goes against what I know is healthy for me”. Hopefully though, it means that we’re eating at the table (no phones/tablets/television), enjoying every bite of food, and being grateful for the yummy and nutritious foods that we’re feeding ourselves, and chewing and breathing.
We don’t mess around with beans. We buy ours from Rancho Gordo, soak them overnight, and boil them slow and low. This is one of our major protein sources, so we add it to every meal we can. We eat them on their own; with some olive oil, salt, and pepper; on salads; as a main dish; as a snack; etc. We’re also quite fond of vegetarian, non-fat re-fried beans. No joke; I had to take a break while writing this article to mindfully eat some Florida Butter Beans. They are sooo good.
Hopefully you’re not surprised that veggies are on the second tier of our pyramid.
Thankfully (for us, not the chickens) we can eat eggs now without worrying about our cholesterol*. This is our second biggest protein source. We eat breakfast salads almost every morning. That’s 2-3 eggs over easy on a bed of spinach or lettuce. Add some steamed veggies and you’ve got 2 servings of veggies on your breakfast plate. Nice!
We like ours raw and plain. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are our favorites due to their slightly more favorable fatty acid profile.
We buy frozen, wild Alaskan salmon from Trader Joes. It’s reasonably priced and usually cooks up nicely. We try to eat it once a week. We also buy cans of wild Alaskan pink salmon from Trader Joes, make a “tuna” salad out of it, and put it over spinach or lettuce.
Trader Joes Organic Reduced Guilt white corn tortilla chips are at the top of our pyramid. It’s the only junk food we let in the house. Hopefully, the acrylamide won’t get us down.
It’s a vice; please, don’t judge. We just can’t resist the glorious west coast IPA’s. Thankfully, we don’t handle our beer that well, so we consume, on average, 1/2 to 1 beer per week (each). Our current favorite is Laurelwood Workhorse IPA.
We didn’t include any other beverages/drinks in our pyramid. We mainly drink filtered water. We also drink some herbal teas. Dr. Andrew is weening himself off of his daily green tea.
*check out The Great Cholesterol Myth by Bowden & Sinatra. I haven’t finished it yet, but it presents some very intriguing data.
What does your food pyramid look like?
A lot of our patients make goals to “eat better”. That’s a pretty vague goal. You can start to refine your goal by figuring out **where you’re at now** and **where you want to be**. Making your own food pyramid can help you define where you’re at. If you’re not entirely sure what you eat, then start a food journal.
Once you know what you’re eating, you can then start to think about how to make changes.
Some things to think about:
What am I doing well?
What am I doing not-so-well?
What’s one little step I can take to make things better? Read Dr. Misty’s article on Little Steps
What’s my major protein source?
How much protein should I be getting? (We recommend about 0.5-0.7 grams / lb of bodyweight)
What does a serving of veggies look like?
How many servings of veggies & fruit do I need? (We recommend 7-9/day, about 2 of those from fruit)
What healthy snacks do I like?
What junk food do I need to keep out of the house?
Now, decide on one or two action steps that you are very confident that you can accomplish. And once you’ve successfully made a change, decide on one or two more easy action steps. It won’t be long before you’re well on your way to “eating better”.
Let us know if you need any help.