Sunshine Food Rules
We have 4 Sunshine Food Rules. These rules are designed to help you with immediate implementation of the information you are going to learn over the the next 8 weeks. You are going to learn a ton of great stuff in this course, but I want to ensure that you experience success as soon as possible!
I suggest printing a couple of copies of both the Sunshine Food Rules
& What Are Whole Foods? infographics and sticking them to your
fridge as well as having them handy in your work space
so that you can easily remember what to do!
Rule 1: Whole Foods
Now before the store became nationally recognized, the term "whole foods," actually meant something other than being a synonym for "whole paycheck." (sorry, couldn't help it!)
There are now so many popular "alternative" diets out there that it can be confusing to know which one to choose. Do I go Paleo or Vegan? How about Whole 30 or South Beach Diet? Should I be gluten free? If so, can I still eat rice?
And then we add in the fact that we are all biochemically different and some of us can handle certain foods better than others. So what if I really feel like I should be Paleo but I can't eat nuts?! That tosses out half of the allowed foods!The good news is that a lot of these diets are based on one, fundamental thing - eat whole, real foods. Yeah! A glimmer of consistency in this whole food mess!
So, what are whole foods? The best way I can think of to personally recognize a food as a whole food when I am out and about gallivanting through different natural foods stores, farmers markets, or, heaven forbid a regular (scary!) grocery store, is this:
Is it reasonably likely that I would
find this food in nature?
Another great tip is to make sure a food has
5 ingredients or less
If the answer is yes, then woohoo!!! I have identified and procured a whole food. Yeah me!
Let's play a little game here, in the list of foods below, you tell me if you think it is a whole food, or a.... shoot, we need a name for the other food.... Impostor Food! (also known as the Standard American Diet)
- Milk - I stumped myself with the first one here (probably because I can't personally tolerate milk) until I remembered our trick! - It is very likely that I could walk up to a cow in a field and milk it. Or a goat, I've done that actually. Or a sheep. Or a.... hamster? Awkward. Anyway, I say YES, milk does in fact count as a whole food.
- Pork Chop - I can find a pig in nature, and it can be butchered and magically turned into said pork chop. So YES!
- Cheese - First we start with milk, and then we add enzymes, and walla! Cheese is born! I give this a YES.
- Potato chips - Now, originally, I was going to say no on this one. I mean, potato chips are bad aren't they, because they are greasy and criminally delicious.... But, I can go out to my garden, haul a potato out of the earth, slice it and bake it. So this is a yes, however, I this is where food quality comes into play in my opinion. Scroll down Rule #3 to learn more. YES
- Cheetos! - Ha, I think we can all easily agree that we would have no idea where to even start hunting for a wild Cheetos. So, unless someone out there will step forward as a Cheetos farmer, we have to condemn the Cheetos to Impostor Foods. NO
- 7-Up - Can someone please show me where to find the 7-Up fountain in the wild? Oh, wait, you can't find it either? I think we've answered our question. NO
- Pasta - This one, I also find to be particularly tricky! I mean, I have yet to find the Penne tree out there in anyone's backyard. But, I if I look at the ingredients and I see that it is simply ground wheat and water, I can follow the chain of logic that leads me to pasta. So, I give this a YES.
- Oreos - Man, I cry a little bit when I think about this one. I wish I could find the Oreo bush! To start with, Oreos list 11 ingredients (not listing all the individual vitamins added back into the flour). This strikes our ingredient rule down. It also contains artificial flavor, I try to avoid foods that have "artificial" in their ingredient list. While I could imagine tracking down most of these ingredients and making an Oreo by baking it on a rock in the sun, it is highly unlikely that I could actually do it. NO
Wasn't that a fun little game! Now that we have a better understand of what whole food is and how to identify it, let's talk about portion sizes. But first, don't forget to print the infographic for your fridge and work space to help you remember what you should be eating!
Rule 2: Portion Sizes
When you are eating whole foods your body can do a better job of signaling when you are full. I generally do not recommend that people count calories or worry too much about how much they are eating. But as you transition into a new way of eating, it can not only be overwhelming to know how much to eat but also how much of which types of foods to eat. I have a couple of tricks that will help guide you along your way as you start to learn how to listen to, and trust what your body is telling you.
We will discuss this in greater detail throughout the 8 Week Kick-Off. But to give you a jump-start on your health journey, I'm going to provide you with a handy-dandy trick up front. I suggest making sure that your fat grams, plus your protein grams are greater, or at least equal to your carbohydrate grams. This will help maintain your blood sugar levels so that you do not experience an insulin spike. This formula is mainly helpful for choosing a few good packaged food that are your go-to's. The wheel that we will discuss next will help you meet this ratio when you are eating whole foods.
I find a visual representation of a plate really helps me. This way, each time I prepare a meal, I know roughly what ratios I should be looking for. Half of your plate should consist of non-starch vegetables (broccoli, carrots, green beans, a salad), about 25% should be protein, 10% starchy veggies or whole grains if you can tolerate them. The 15% of fat is most likely not going to be sitting in it's own little section on your plate, but rather drizzled throughout in the form of butter on your potatoes, olive oil in your salad dressing or the fat in the meat you are eating.
Rule 3: Food Quality
Let me just say, conventional food really freaks me out! Given all the chemicals and hormones that are in conventional food, my natural instinct is to say that Food Quality should be our first rule. However, someone pointed out that there is a ton of junk food out there that is USDA Organic! While these foods may have more clean ingredients and less chemicals, they are still chocked full of sugars and grains and fail both of our rules listed above.
Once you have the whole food and portion size part of the equation down, the next step is to pay attention to where your food is coming from. When it comes to nutrition and the environment, local and organic foods are a win. There are many layers of food quality, I would start with shopping at local farmers markets when they are available and finding out where you can purchase foods year round that are local to your area. Local food has traveled less distance and even if it is not organic, you are able to talk directly to the farmer to ask about how they raise the food and what types of chemicals are used.
Even though I find it painful, I pay the higher price for organic, humanely raised, local, 100% grass fed meats and eggs. I highly value the increased nutrient density and superior taste of these products, but what really motivates me to fork over the extra dough is the fact that the animals involved in the commercial meat industry are treated terribly. I often opt for eating a smaller portion size of higher quality meat if I need to stretch my budget. There are a lot of people who choose to not eat meat at all due to the reality of conventional animal raising practices. I personally feel O.K. with eating an animal that was humanely raised, but I do my best to only eat what I feel my body really needs and I am willing to pay the extra money for it.
While local foods are often the best choice because you can talk to the person who raises the food, it is not always an option to purchase local food. Food labeling can help us choose what to buy when we are at the store. Even when we religiously read food labels, it can be challenging to know what we are really purchasing. There are a lot of food labels that don't mean anything other than sounding fancy in order to get you to purchase the product.
There are a few labels that I do look for when I am purchasing whole foods because they at least mean that the farming practices are regulated to an extent.
- USDA Organic - While there are in fact foods that are "cleaner" than those labeled as USDA Organic, this is a great starting point. At the very least, USDA Organic means that the way food is being raised is being monitored, and many of the harmful substances that are used in conventional farming are not allowed on a USDA Organic farm. Here is the definition from the USDA website itself - "USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible."
- 100% Grass Fed - When you see this label it means that for the lifetime of the animal it only ate food that is natural to it. This animal certainly ate grass, and in the winter months it probably was supplemented with hay. The part that is really important is that this animal did not eat any grains or other types of feed that are not natural to it. The difference between 100% Grass Fed and either just Grass Fed or Pasture Raised, is that the 100% Grass Fed animal ate it's natural diet for the entirety of it's life. It is very common that animals will be pasture raised until the last 3 months before slaughter, at which point they are fattened up with corn or other food supplements. 100% Grass Fed ensures that the animal only ate grass and other types of plants that are natural to it's species for the entirety of it's life.
- Humanely Raised - I prefer to purchase things that have the Humanely Raised seal vs. just Free Range or Pastures Raised because the later two are basically loop wholes to make it sound like the animals are well cared for. When you see the Humanely Raised symbol you know that this particular animal was raised in a way that at least more closely resembles how it would behave in a natural environment. For example, chickens who are Humanely Raised must have 108 sq. ft. per bird and the fields must be rotated. They must be outdoors year round and have adequate shelter from the elements.
Rule 4: Fermented Foods Daily
Some people will love this section and other people will hate it! I personally love the taste of sauerkraut and all of the other unique flavors that I create when I ferment my own foods, but I have friends who gag just thinking about eating a fermented anything. Luckily, as with many other things (such as coffee, wine or beer) we can often adjust to these tastes and even learn to love them! I get really excited every time I walk into a grocery store and see all the different fermented foods on the shelves. We are in the midst of a fermentation revival!
For most of human history we have unknowingly co-existed with microbes. In fact, for every cell in your body, there are 10 microbes either in you, or on you. Many people's first reaction is to say "Eeeeew, germs!" While many of these microbes can cause disease and we are forever grateful for the advancement of germ theory, as is common with humans, we have swung the pendulum too far in the direction of eradicating all microbes. Commonly accepted evidence of how our hyper-clean, anti-microbial soap, antibiotics for a sniffle culture is leading to big trouble, is the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Our war on germs has created Super Bugs that no known antibiotic can eradicate.
When we are eating a diet that resembles what humans have eaten for much of our history, fermented foods are a central piece. These foods include yogurt, some cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi and traditionally made pickles and relishes. Until a few years ago, most of the people that I met who ate these types of foods simply did it because they liked the strong flavors and effervescent mouth feel. But as more and more evidence is surfacing about the importance of gut health and the benefits of a healthy gut microbiota, many people are starting to eat fermented foods for health reasons.
Let's talk a little bit more about the high points of how microbes benefit us:
Immune System - The microbes in our gut help modulate our immune system. Depending on the types and quantity of microbes in our gut, our immune system can be bolstered and we are healthier, or it can be negatively impacted and we experience illness. Microbial balance has been tied to things from obesity to Crohn's disease. It is thought that inflammation is the root of disease, and guess what, the balance of microbes in your gut can either turn up or turn down the production of inflammation in your gut. When we eat fermented foods a really neat thing called crowding out happens. This means that the good microbes start building neighborhoods so to speak, they take up all of the available space and this prevents the "bad" microbes from putting down roots in your digestive tract. It is recommended that we eat a variety of fermented foods so that we are exposed to many different, beneficial strains of microbes.
Additional Nutrients - The microbes in our gut can actually break down complex carbohydrates that our bodies alone are not capable of. The digestion of these fibers by the bacteria in our gut not only release needed nutrients, but they also manufacture some vitamins and even healthy fatty acids. For example, microbes in the gut create a fatty acid called butyrate from complex carbohydrates. This directly improves the health of the digestive lining because the cells of the colon derive 70% of their energy requirements from this specific fatty acid!
Mental Health - As mentioned above, some species of microbes turn up the production of inflammation in the gut. These species can also have an impact on the brain and how we feel emotionally by producing chemicals that act as neurotransmitters. Let's think about that for a minute, the microbes in your gut can manufacture chemicals that can directly send signals to your brain to tell it how to behave! Some microbes create chemicals that make us feel happy, and other microbes create chemicals that make us feel unwell. I know you have heard it before, but I'm just gonna say it now - You are what you eat! This is such a fascinating topic and I think we have just begun to scratch the surface. How does our gut microbiome impact autism, depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder? We may not know all of the exact mechanism of how microbes influence our brains, but we know enough to understand that gut health is extremely important to mental health.
There are many things that can impact our gut health. All of the Sunshine Food Rules are geared towards improving gut health. First, we must eat whole foods which go a long way towards creating a healthy gut. Then we need to eliminate the consumption of toxins by eating clean, quality foods. And lastly, we need to be providing our bodies with plenty of healthy organisms by consuming fermented foods daily.