by Ryan Humphries, Co-Founder & Coach
If you’re a member, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve been writing a weekly nutrition tip on the whiteboard. You've also likely heard me talk about how a "nutrient dense and toxin free" diet is the way to go.
I geek out on nutrition – theories! philosophies! history! – but listen. Part of the point of the weekly tips is to show you that small changes can make a big difference. Here's a little more on what I mean by "nutrient dense" and "toxin free."
Are you going to tell us to eat kale?
No, no, relax. I mean, kale can be great (…just add bacon!), but don’t assume that eating well means limiting your diet to things you just don’t like. If you don't like kale, don't eat it.
Nutrient dense foods have a high concentration of vitamins and minerals per calorie.
What you need on your plate are nutrient dense foods, which have the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals per calorie. The good news is that there are a ton of nutrient-dense foods out there, so find something you’ll enjoy. Rule of thumb: If it had a mother, or you can eat it as it grows in nature, chances are it’s got some pretty decent nutrients. Your goal is to get the most nutrition for the fewest calories, and to avoid toxins.
What's a toxin, exactly?
Anything the body recognizes as foreign. Obviously, impossible-to-pronounce ingredients listed on the side of a Cheetos bag are not cool. But it’s important to note that foods that might otherwise be healthy for one person – like dairy, shellfish or certain grains – might cause problems in another person.
When we talk about toxins, we mean anything that causes a negative reaction in your body. These sensitivities may contribute to low level, chronic inflammation, which could present as exhaustion, indigestion or general lethargy. On a more severe scale, you might have an all out immune system response like hives, which is likely an allergy.
So depending on your genes and your immune system, what’s toxic to you may not be toxic to me. Of the 7 billion people on the planet, the 2 largest food sensitivities or allergies are wheat and dairy.
Could I have a food sensitivity and not know it?
Yep. It’s possible that something you’re eating is bringing you down, but you’re so used to it, you don’t realize how much better you’d feel without it. If you show signs of chronic inflammation (exhaustion, puffiness, lethargy, skin problems), it’s worthwhile to find out if something in your diet plays a role.
I'm not giving up ice cream.
You may not need to. If you suspect a sensitivity from a specific food, eliminate it for 30 days, see how you look, feel and perform. Then reintroduce that food back into the diet and see if there’s a noticeable change. Only eliminate one thing at a time so you know which thing you're having a reaction to.
If you take dairy out of your diet for 30 days and put it back in only to find that you’ve missed the flavor, chances are that you have the necessary enzymes to breakdown lactose. Great! If, on the other hand, you reintroduce it and your gut bubbles with a vengeance, chances are you’ll feel a lot better if you cut out dairy, or at least time your ice cream indulgences properly for the most enjoyment and least discomfort. Try the same experiment with wheat, then processed sugar, and so on, to try to figure it out.
Cheers to nutrient density!