Basic Nutrition

This short article is an introduction to the longer Middleway Method Nutrition Training Program.

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to believe in the latest fad. You don’t have to “go Paleo” or become “Keto.” You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian, but you can if you want. You can eat well based entirely upon your own common sense and the feelings of your body. If you add a little bit of nutritional science and traditional human wisdom to the picture, then you’ve got it made.

Also, good nutrition doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, if you put just a little bit of time into cooking for yourself, you can eat a very healthy diet and actually save money. While local, organic vegetables are definitely more nutritious than vegetables grown from chemical fertilizers, it’s not necessary to spend an arm and a leg on fancy produce as long as you are eating mostly unprocessed foods. If you eat little or no meat, get most of your protein from beans and rice, and get most of your fat from eggs and dairy products, then you can spend more money on quality fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

The key to excellent nutrition is eating mostly unprocessed foods. A processed food is one that has been chemically or mechanically altered in such a way that part of the food has been removed. Examples of the most commonly used processed foods are sugar, white flour, and oil. To make sugar, everything but the pure chemical sugar is removed from the original plant, the sugar cane. To make white flour, the outer hull of the wheat kernel is removed. To make oil, especially the infamous hydrogenated oil, first the oil is removed from the plant or seed, and then it is chemically altered. In every case, by removing part of the whole food, we remove important nutrients. If the bulk of our daily calories comes from eating processed foods, then over our lifetimes we become deficient in some very important nutrients.

You may have noticed that most of the white flour that you eat is “enriched.” The manufacturer has added important vitamins and minerals back into the flour because they are so important. But those added nutrients aren’t nearly as good for you as the originals that came with the whole wheat. Similarly, most of the milk that you can buy in the store is enriched with Vitamin D. Milk is actually a whole food, especially whole milk. The reason that milk is enriched is because most people are deficient in Vitamin D because of lack of exposure to direct sunlight and not eating enough Vitamin D-rich foods like fish, cheese, and eggs.

Whole, unprocessed foods are simply those foods which have not been mechanically or chemically altered. Fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, beans, dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish are all whole foods. When foods are whole, they contain all of their natural nutrients, and those nutrients are exactly what the human body needs. Eating a whole foods diet, most people don’t need any additional supplements. No expensive multi-vitamins. No enriched flour. No fancy extracts. Just food.

Here are the Middleway Method whole foods nutrition guidelines:

  1. Limit your consumption of processed foods. If it comes in a package, it probably contains processed foods. If it has sugar or high fructose corn syrup in it, it is a processed food. If it has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in it, it is a processed food. White bread, pasta, pastries, protein powder, supplements, and every ingredient that has a chemical name are all processed foods.
  2. Increase your consumption of whole, unprocessed foods. Fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, beans, dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish are all whole foods.
  3. Get most of your protein from beans and rice or beans and corn, some of your protein from dairy products and eggs, and a little bit of your protein from meat, if you want to eat meat. Limit your consumption of meat to about 3 ounces per day, at most.
  4. Eat about 20-25% protein, 50-55% carbohydrates, and 25% fat.
  5. Get 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3-5 days a week.

For a more comprehensive look at nutrition, start our Nutrition Training Program. Or, skip to the end and look at our Essential Nutrition Guidelines. We also recommend the Life Kit podcasts from NPR.

This is part of the Middleway Preliminary Practices free online wellness program. Learn more here.

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