Nutrition Tips From the Doctors
We all know nutrition is incredibly important for our health. Without proper nutrition, it can greatly affect our bodies long-term. However, it can be difficult to find proper information about nutrition from reliable sources. So in this blog post, we're going to talk about nutrition. A great deal of information will be from Dr. Huntley’s For My Health Today Podcast interview with the talented and knowledgeable Dr. Richard Harris. Before we talk about nutrition, let’s introduce Dr. Harris.
Dr. Richard Harris and His Background
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, but raised in Houston, Texas, Dr. Richard Harris is a board-certified internal medicine physician and pharmacist. Dr. Harris attended the University of Texas at Austin for pharmacy school, then pursued medical education at the McGovern School of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Harris completed his residency in internal medicine at UTM TMB in Galveston after finishing his residency. Dr. Harris worked for a large group in Houston, but left that practice to pursue holistic medicine.
Dr. Harris has a client-centric view focusing on building relationships and trust through a comprehensive lifestyle medicine system combined with genetic and micronutrient testing. In his spare time, he is an avid reader, weightlifter, video game enthusiast, and author. Dr. Harris also enjoys sports, traveling, philanthropy, church, and keto donuts. Now that you know some more about Dr. Harris, let’s cover his nutrition tips and tricks.
Nutrition Tips From the Experts
Everything We Learned About Nutrition is Wrong
It’s very important to understand how we ended up in this epidemic of chronic disease. If you've heard of “Food Fix” by Dr. Mark Hyman, which is an excellent book and goes through this topic in-depth, but 11 million people a year die from poor nutrition. We live in a world where calories are abundant. But nutrition, vitamins, and minerals are poor. This shouldn't be the case. We shouldn't have excess calories, but our foods are nutrient-poor. This simply wasn’t the case up until a couple of decades ago.
If you look at how our grandparents ate, what did they eat? They ate meats, fruits, and vegetables. They cooked with butter, ghee, and other real products. Then, the talk about food all started around the time President Eisenhower had a heart attack. People started wondering what was going on because heart disease was rare. So, they asked physiologist, Ancel Keys, to study this.
What Happened to Our Ideas Around Nutrition?
Ancel Keys came up with a study over nine countries, which is normally excellent. However, the study was actually over 21 countries. He excluded all of the data from the countries that didn't prove what he wanted to prove. This is when saturated fats became bad and when the processed food revolution happened.
If you take the fat out of foods, they taste terrible. So what do food producers add? Sugar. And so if you look at the rates of obesity, the rates of chronic disease, everything since we switched to a more processed food intake, 60 percent of the American diet is ultra-processed foods. The rate of chronic disease has just skyrocketed. This is not changing anytime soon unless we get back to that whole food nutrition plan. So, in conclusion, we should eat like our grandparents used to eat.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Protein
Back in the day, many people grew up eating mostly fruits and vegetables with very little meat. This is because fruits and vegetables could be grown in the backyard garden, and meat was very expensive. So, most people used to have at least 50 percent of their plate be fruits and vegetables. Then, they had meat as the side and got their protein through nuts and lagoons.
Many people worry about their protein intake. But the truth is, there’s plenty of protein out there. You will get it through the right vegetables and nuts. In fact, when you listen to your body, it will tell you what diet it prefers.
What Happens When You Listen to Your Body?
Believe it or not, our bodies respond to us and tell us what they are craving. Some people do great on primarily vegetarian or pescatarian diets, while some respond well to keto, paleo, or carnivore diets. It truly depends on what your body wants and that you are eating whole foods. There have been numerous studies showing that whole foods respond best for most people, no matter what diet they are on. Dr. Harris says, “If it used to run or came from the ground, it is likely going to respond well as an energy source for you.”
Intention is Better Than Perfection
When it comes to your diet, it's not perfection, it’s intention. A lot of times people put too much pressure on their nutrition plan. They think it has to be 100 percent perfect. Then, they slip up and they get depressed or fall off the plan. Truthfully, it's not about every meal being perfect. It’s normal to have a cheat meal once a week, and you’re even supposed to do that. But, when it starts happening every day, it can become a problem.
Keep in mind, if you are at a birthday party and you decide to eat some birthday cake, it doesn’t mean you should give up your diet. Just eat the birthday cake, and pick back up your normal eating habits afterward. This is an example of being intentional, rather than focusing on perfection. Try to follow your plan most days, then allow yourself some wiggle room every once in a while. Attempt to find some balance in your diet and be forgiving with yourself.
Fruits vs. Sweet Treats
When you are craving a sweet treat, it is much better to reach for a berry option. The next time you are craving something sweet, reach for a bowl of strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries. You can even put a little bit of local honey on top of it with some peanut butter or a side of dark chocolate. This will likely cut any of your sweet cravings.
If you're someone who's really trying to avoid sweets, here's a little tip… Eat something sour. You can buy some bay leaves or drink some lemon juice to eliminate your sweet tooth. And then once you break your sweet tooth, your body's appetite pathways start to reregulate. What most people don't know is all those processed foods hijack our appetite and taste pathways. They're loaded with artificial flavors because the flavor is how ancestrally we were able to tell what nutrients were in foods. So you have to mimic natural flavors to get people to eat those foods so they think they're getting the nutrients. But what happens when you combine these processed foods with high fat and high sugar? It triggers the reward pathways in the brain. It sends those appetite pathways crazy and it induces strong cravings for those types of foods. So once you start to break that process, you won't crave those foods anymore. You will actually crave healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
Bringing Sweet Treats Home
One of the things many people find is that if they buy sweet treats, they will know they’re in the house and want them. This is why it is best to stop buying processed sweets and bringing them in unless it’s a holiday or cheat meal. Be sure to reward yourself with the fruits that you love. You will soon realize that you don’t have to eat a ton of fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth craving.
Try to Consume More Good Fat
Good fat is natural fat. If you look at a lot of carnivorous animals out there, what do they eat? They eat the fatty parts of other animals. This is where they're loaded with nutrients. So, there are fat-soluble vitamins that need fats in order to be absorbed. With that being said, eating fattier cuts of meat such as ribeyes or chicken thighs can supply you with great levels of healthy fats.
The fats you should cook with are avocado oil, ghee butter, coconut oil, or walnut oil. Those are the best cooking oils. All of these fats are stable to high heat. Then you can drizzle olive oil onto your vegetables. Unfortunately, olive oil is not stable with high heat, so be sure to only use it after you’re done cooking.
Control Your Portions
If you think your portion sizes are the problem, try to practice portion control. Portion sizes in America are out of control, and you'll eat more processed foods than you eat whole foods. This is a common complaint with people, as they feel whole foods are too expensive. Truth be told, it’s not, because you'll actually eat less food. You think you're going to eat the same amount of food you eat with processed food, but you won't because it has all the nutrients that your body needs.
When practicing portion control, if you can, purchase smaller plates. It has been scientifically proven that if you put the same amount of food on a smaller plate, your brain will think that is more rewarding. If you put the same amount of food on a larger plate, your brain thinks it's getting cheated. With that being said, use a smaller plate to understand your portion sizes. Many companies actually sell plates that help you with this that are smaller intentionally or plates that have the number of vegetables that you should put on your plate for fruit and meat. So some people are more visual. They need to actually see this. If you don't want to buy those, just mark it out yourself. Grab some toothpicks, put them on the plate, and section off the plate that way.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Dr. Harris is also a big fan of intermittent fasting. If you look at a lot of health recommendations and trace back the money, a lot of the professionals who were involved with writing these guidelines were getting paid by big food companies. So the guidelines were encouraging people to eat more, to spend more money on these processed foods and on junk foods, instead of eating a whole foods meal twice a day.
There is an incredible group called Virta Health who does online diabetic counseling. Virta Health has cured so many people of diabetes just through nutrition and exercise alone. Many of their recommendations are time-restricted eating and fasting routines. Now, you always want to check with your medical provider before you do this. But, what the data shows is that time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting can help reverse insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that helps our bodies move sugar out of the blood into the cells. Sugar left in the blood causes all kinds of havoc. It causes inflammation, and attaches to things that it's not supposed to. With that being said, it’s bad to have high sugar levels in the blood for too long. So what happens is as the sugar levels get higher, the insulin levels get higher, and eventually, you become insulin resistant.
Insulin is also a growth hormone. It causes organs to grow, which can be a bad thing if your levels are too high. So the body stops listening to that insulin signal. So then it takes more and more insulin to do the same trick. Then, you get to a point where you have diabetes, where the insulin signaling is completely out of whack and the body is not listening to that signal to maintain blood sugars. So, exercise and intermittent fasting are two of the best things you can do if you are diabetic or prediabetic.
Meditate Every Day
When interviewing Dr. Harris, he said, “When I get people to try to buy into a more holistic lifestyle, I think about it as a businessman, because I am a businessman as well. I say I'm going to give you something that's high value, that makes a lot of impact, that costs you nothing, and you can start tomorrow. Does that sound good? They say it sounds good. I'll do that. Then, I say, I want you to meditate and not eat. And people are like, ‘What?’”
He is absolutely right about the success of these practices. A five-minute meditation practice can make a dramatic impact on your life. And then doing time-restricted eating can make a big difference in how you feel. Humans are not supposed to eat all day. Dr. Harris said, “I eat only twice a day, sometimes once a day. Sometimes I'll eat three times a day if my body's telling me to. Especially if I've been working out really hard.” But as always, listen to your body.
Be With People Who Support Your Journey
The data shows that if you take someone who's obese and you move them into a circle of people who aren't, they lose weight. They adopt healthier behaviors. The same goes for the other way around. If you take someone who has healthy behaviors and move them into a circle that has unhealthy behaviors, they begin to adopt unhealthy behaviors. So if you want to be healthy, want to fast, want to do time-restricted eating, or want to exercise, go hang out with people who are doing that. Find a group of people who are doing that. Don't walk through this alone. It takes a tribe. It takes other healthy people around you. Then you'll start to see that as you walk on this journey, you'll start to bless other people in your life and your circle to walk on the journey with you.
Thank You to Dr. Harris
We want to thank Dr. Richard Harris for taking the time to give us some great tips to share with you in this blog post. He has his own podcast if you would like to learn more about nutrition and exercise called “Strive for Great Health”. It is found on most platforms that you find podcasts such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. You can also connect with Dr. Harris on Instagram, where he often shares a lot of information similar to what we discussed in this blog post. His Instagram is @DrHarrisMD.