A Functional Medicine Expert Reveals Myths About “Healthy” Foods & What To Eat Instead

How An Elimination Diet Can Optimize Your Health And Heal Your Gut Dr. Will Cole 1

The food industry is a juggernaut trillion-dollar industry (that spends $4.6 billion on marketing (1) in the United States, and most of those dollars are geared towards (believe it or not) giving the people what they want.

If fast food is popular, that’s where the advertising dollars go, and recently, as an increasing number of people have been looking for healthier choices and being more vocal about their desire to reclaim their health, the health food industry has, in response, grown astronomically over the past few years.

However, because the almighty dollar always seems to rule, less scrupulous companies have capitalized on the desire for more natural choices with cunning advertisements and labels that portray many foods as healthful when in reality, they are anything but. This is a situation in which knowledge is power. Learning what really is good for you and what isn’t will allow you to make conscious food-buying choices that can make a real difference in your health.

In service of this aim, here is a crash course in translating food ingredients and labels that may be marketed to you as healthy but which are best avoided. This is by no means a complete list of every unhealthy “health” food, but these are some common offenders that have misled many of my well-meaning patients in my functional medicine practice. Don’t let these mislead you.

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8 "Healthy Foods" That Could Be Damaging Your Health

1. Most vegetable-based cooking oils

But if they come from vegetables, aren’t they good for you? Not when they are highly processed with chemicals. On the top of my list of unhealthy “health” foods are industrial seed oils which are ingredients in just about every boxed food that’s marketing as “healthy” and are also marketed as “heart healthy” choices for cooking and baking. Don’t believe it.

Oils like canola, vegetable, soybean, and corn oils are so ubiquitous in your food system because they come mostly from government-subsidized crops, which makes them cheap and plentiful. The problem with these oils is that they are extremely high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). A diet high in these omega-6 fats will cause systemic inflammation in the body, which is an underlying commonality with all modern chronic degenerative diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. They are also highly processed, often with industrial solvents. I barely consider them to be food.

The solution: Opt instead for cooking with coconut oil or ghee (which tolerate high heat) and using cold-pressed oils like extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil for room temperature purposes like salad dressings and dips.

2. Roasted nuts from the store

You’ve probably heard that nuts and seeds have great health benefits, but when they come from the store pre-roasted and treated, they are nutritionally a far cry from what they were in their raw form. The problem is that nuts that are sold in stores pre-roasted typically include those exact industrial seed oils I just mentioned. They also contain partially hydrogenated trans fats, which can contribute to chronic disease and inflammation as well.

Another issue when it comes to roasted nuts is that the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats of the nuts are very prone to oxidation (2) at high temperatures. These are the fats that make nuts such a good choice for health, but they are only fully intact in the raw nut form. Finally, nuts you typically find in stores can be rancid because they have been sitting on the shelves for too long, which is just one more way to turn a good fat into a bad one.

The solution: Buy raw organic nuts, soak them in water for 12 hours, drain them, then roast them yourself at a low-to-medium temperature for 10 to 20 minutes (or dehydrate them, if you have a food dehydrator). This is one way to maximize the nutritional benefits locked in nuts without taking in inflammatory oils along the way.

3. Agave nectar

There was a time when this sweetener was new on the scene and everyone thought it was a boon to health. It is still often labeled as “healthy” and touted as a low-glycemic food that is better for blood sugar control than other sweeteners. However, the glycemic index grades carbohydrates based on how fast they will raise your blood sugar, an overly simplistic method for determining a food’s health status (in my opinion) and no basis on which to label foods “good” or “bad.”

In fact, agave nectar is highly processed and very high in fructose. Fructose, while low on the glycemic index, is just as damaging (if not more damaging) than other sweeteners. It just takes more time to do the damage because your body takes a while to convert the fructose into glucose, glycogen, lactate, and fat in your liver. Agave nectar and other foods high in fructose have a very stressful impact on your liver, contributing to fatty liver disease (3) and insulin resistance. Needless to say, avoid this processed product!

The solution: If you need to add sweetness to your food or drink, do so in moderation and choose more natural sweeteners like raw stevia, raw honey, or grade b maple syrup. Not too much! Any added sweetener can disrupt blood sugar and add more calories than are worth it for the nutrients you get.

4. Low-fat foods

Since the 1950s, the mainstream public has been given some false news: that fat is bad. It was removed from many foods after the message got around that fat would clog our arteries and make us fat, and then the food industry made a lot of money off thousands of low-fat products. Ever since that misguided advice, we’ve become the fattest and most chronically sick nation in the world. Coincedence?

The fact is, human bodies require healthy fats for optimal functioning. Our brains and immune systems as well as our systems for hormone production assimilation and basic cell function all depend on this precious macronutirent which, as it turns out, is not damaging at all in its natural form. Processed, packaged, often high-sugar and high-additive  low-fat and fat-free products, on the other hand, are highly inflammatory, devoid of nutrients, and packed with empty calories.

Now we know the truth: Fat doesn’t make us sick and it doesn’t make us gain weight; it’s what we have done to fat that is the problem. Fat from factory farmed animals, partially hydrogenated trans fats, and highly processed industrial seed oils like canola and vegetable oil, can all lead to inflammation and chronic illness. These are the fats to avoid, as vehemently as we should all avoid processed “low-fat” and “fat-free” so-called food.

The solution: Eat foods that are rich in high quality natural plant and animal fat, like avocados, coconut oil, pastured eggs, fullfat kefir made with milk that comes from grass-fed animals, and fatty wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef.

5. Sugar-free foods

Just as “fat-free” foods were packed with sugar and chemicals, sugar-free foods contain their own set of health-destroying chemical ingredients. “Sugar-free” is a misleading label that confuses many people who are trying to avoid sugar. They consume sugar-free and “diet” drinks or food, thinking they’re picking the better option, when in reality, they could be destroying their health.

It’s no secret anymore that the artificial sweeteners used in many sugar drinks are linked to chronic disease, and that they actually make you gain weight due to their disruptive effect on the human microbiome. One study (4) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking just 12 ounces of diet soda a week increased the risk of diabetes by 33%. Drinking 20 ounces of diet soda per week increased risk of diabetes by 66%!

Perhaps it is time to rethink that diet soda habit. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that you go for the regular soda either! This soda is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup or, at best, white sugar. Choosing between these highly processed inflammatory and blood-sugar-disrupting sweeteners and artificial sweeteners is like trying to pick which slow poison you want to administer to yourself. Don’t fall for it!

The solution: Remember good old-fashioned water? It comes with bubbles and you can even add your own flavor. I like infusing sparkling water with fruits like slices of lemon or lime or a few berries. Once you break the soda habit, this refreshing drink will taste like a dose of pure health!

6. Whole-grain foods

What? Aren’t whole grains supposed to be good for you? Actually, research shows (5) that a piece of whole wheat bread can spike blood sugar just as much, if not more, than a can of soda. Grains weren’t always this way, but the hybridization of our grain supply to make it taste sweeter has created grains with “super” sugars and increased gluten content beyond what is naturally occurring, and both these concentrated sugars and elevated gluten can be disastrous to health.

But that doesn’t stop advertisers from touting the so-called “heart-healthy” benefits of whole grains. Even gluten-free grains like brown rice and whole oats can cause similar problems in many people. Throughout history, when grains were traditionally consumed, they were soaked, sprouted, and fermented (and of course not hybridized or genetically modified, either). These seemingly subtle differences have had a major negative impact on human health.

The solution: Many foods you might have thought of as grain-containing can be made with grain-free options such as coconut flour, arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, plantain flour, and almond flour.

7. Gluten-free snack foods

The recent popularity of gluten-free diets has driven the rise of a lot of gluten-free junk foods that typically contain refined sweeteners, refined grains, and industrial seed oils. Just because these things are gluten-free doesn’t make them good for you, as I’ve written in the past.

The solution: Snack on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, like chips made from kale or sweet potatoes, naturally sweet fresh berries, or crisp raw veggies.

8. Foods labeled “All Natural”

Talk about a buzz word. The word “natural” is not regulated, so anyone can use it, even though there are no rules specifying what the word means. People tend to buy products that claim to be “natural” thinking this must be healthier, when in reality, the word is often meaningless and attached to foods that are devoid of nutrients and high in inflammatory ingredients like industrial seed oils and sugar.

The solution: Read the ingredients, not just the food labels covered in marketing terms. If the ingredients look like a chemistry project or they are ingredients mentioned in this article, you might want to save your money. Better yet, choose a food without a label that looks like how it came from the earth. That’s what natural should mean.

Our understanding of inflammation and how it negatively impacts our health only continues to grow. While the above foods can also contribute to inflammation, there are even more "healthy" foods that can be sabotaging your efforts for soothing inflammation.

5 Foods That Can Still Be Causing Inflammation

1. Oats

Many of us think of oatmeal as the ultimate health food. (I mean, it supports heart health, it has a ton of fiber, and it’s gluten-free…right?) Unfortunately, recent research has shown that many oat-containing products contain unsafe levels of glyphosate, the main ingredient found in the weed-killer Roundup. In fact, a 2018 study (6) by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that every single product they tested, tested positive for some amount of glyphosate. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” which means it can definitely contribute to chronic inflammation and disease.

How eat oats the healthy way: If you’re buying and consuming oat products, make sure you buy organic. The same EWG study found that far fewer organic products contained unhealthy levels of glyphosate.

2. Nut milks

Opting for nut milk over inflammatory dairy products is a great way to start reducing chronic inflammation — and something I recommend to a large majority of my patients. But here’s the catch 22: Not all nut milks are created equally. In fact, some would definitely fall into the “unhealthy” category because of their sugar content and added ingredients like carrageenan, which is often used as an emulsifier.

Many studies have shown that carrageenan can contribute to inflammation; in fact, one study (7) — published in Frontiers in Pediatrics — exposed mice to low concentrations of the ingredient for 18 days which showed that it can lead to “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action. Other reports (8) have shown that it can contribute to ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease.

How to consume nut milk the healthy way: Look for products without carrageenan and no added sugar; or, make your own nut and seed milks at home! 

3. Supplements

The whole purpose of supplements is to support our health, so it’s safe to assume they’d never contain harmful ingredients, right?


Sadly, a ton of supplements contain added sugar, fillers, and artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives that you wouldn’t want in your food and you definitely don’t want in your supplements. This is especially true for those that come in gummy form or as liquids or powders.

How to supplement the healthy way: Look for supplements that are free from additives like sugar, colors, flavors, and other artificial ingredients. If you’re not sure which supplements to take, check out my essential supplement guide here.

4. Natural Sugars

Speaking of sugar, you want to watch out for it in all forms. So while honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar may come from natural, unprocessed sources — they’re still sugar. And when used in excess, they can contribute to unhealthy blood sugar levels and chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that as many as ⅓ of Americans (9) have pre-diabetes, and sadly, most don’t even know it.

How to find the healthiest types of sugar: Try opting for sugars that come from whole fruits, which are higher in fiber and will help decrease the blood sugar spike. That could mean a few blueberries on your yogurt or dark chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert.

5. Uncooked Veggies

If I asked you what the healthiest meal in the world is, you’d probably say a giant salad full of colorful veggies. But there’s one family of vegetables that you don’t want to eat raw; they’re called cruciferous veggies and they include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Studies have shown (10) that a high intake of cruciferous vegetables can cause hypothyroidism in animals. And as many of us know, thyroid issues are already extremely common and can be closely linked to chronic inflammation. Plus, eating these veggies uncooked can be hard on your gut and digestion which isn’t good for inflammation levels either.

How to eat cruciferous veggies the healthy way: Bake them, steam them, or sauté them!  It doesn’t matter how you cook them, just make sure they’re nice and tender before you consume this family of veggies.

No one wants their healthy lifestyle choices to fall flat — or worse, put their inflammation levels at risk. That’s why I want everyone to be aware of the healthy foods above that may still be causing inflammation. The good news is that by making a few additional changes and getting savvy about what you buy and how you prepare it, you can make sure your healthy efforts are actually leading to a healthier you.

14 Simple Inflammation-Calming Food Hacks

These are my favorite fun and easy alternatives to the world’s most beloved meals. Let these hacks inspire you to transform your comfort foods into nutrient-dense superfoods and start healing with meals, not medicine.

1. Instead of pasta: Vegetable noodles

We all know by now the inflammatory impact of gluten, but who doesn’t occasionally (or frequently) crave a big bowl of pasta? Curb those carb cravings by purchasing a spiralizer and turn your favorite veggies into noodles. Zucchini and sweet potato noodles have a great pasta-like consistency, and taste great with your favorite sauce.

2. Instead of rice: Cauliflower rice

Although it’s gluten-free, rice still has proteins that are similar to gluten that can be an issue for people struggling with inflammation and gastrointestinal problems like leaky gut syndrome. Rice is also high in carbs, which can mess with blood sugar. Steam cauliflower florets and then pulse them in a food processor for a rice-like shape and texture, or buy some already premade form the grocery store.

3. Instead of dairy cheese: Nut cheese

The protein in milk called casein can be inflammatory, especially for those with underlying gut problems. But what if you love your cheese? Nut cheese looks (and tastes) like the real deal. It has become quite sophisticated, with many delicious varieties available in health food stores, but it’s easy to make as well.

4. Instead of hummus: Cauliflower hummus

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit” is a saying based in some stinky (and stomach-crampy) truth because the lectins and phytates in legumes like chickpeas can do a number on your digestion, causing bloating and gas. Swap out your chickpeas in hummus for cauliflower (just steam and use as you would chickpeas) and you’ll have a great legume-free dip for your fresh veggies!

5. Instead of mayonnaise: Mashed avocado

Some people can’t handle the eggs or preservatives in jarred mayonnaise. Instead, use mashed avocado, which has a similarly creamy consistency and rich taste, and is delicious in salads or sandwiches. It’s also much higher in vitamins and fiber than boring old mayo.

6. Instead of regular yogurt: Coconut milk yogurt

Trade your regular yogurt for a coconut-milk-based version, if you want or need to avoid dairy. Go for the unsweetened version to limit your sugar and mix in your own fresh fruit or other flavorings. You could also make your own at home.

7. Instead of potato chips: Plantain chips

While potatoes are a member of the nightshade family, and these veggies (which also include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) can trigger inflammation (11) in some sensitive people, especially those with joint issues. If you still crave a crunchy and salty snack, plantain chips are a better option. They take crispy and salty and starchy, just like potato chips, but won’t throw that inflammation shade you could get from nightshades.

8. Instead of breadcrumbs: Coconut flakes

Coconuts contain healthy fats that are great for your hormones and brain. Get more coconut into your diet by swapping out breadcrumbs for coconut flakes. They give you the crisp texture and have a delicious kick of rich tropical flavor.

9. Instead of soda: Flavored carbonated water

We all know that too much sugar (not to mention artificial sweeteners) can hurt your health. Curb that soda habit by switching to flavored carbonated water such as La Croix and you’ll soon adjust to the fun fizzy flavors without the sugar or artificial sweeteners that are bringing you down.

10. Instead of chocolate: Carob

I find that chocolate (even the dark healthier kind) is a hidden problem for many of my patients. Chocolate lover, meet your new friend, carob. This nutrient-dense chocolate alternative is free of the caffeine found in chocolate and typically well-tolerated by most people.

11. Instead of butter: Ghee

By switching to ghee (also known as clarified butter) instead of regular butter, you can avoid that inflammatory protein casein, because ghee is made by simmer butter and keeping the liquid fat but discarding the milk protein solids where the casein hangs out. What’s left is a golden liquid jam-packed with uber-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. Since it also has a high smoke point, ghee is safe to use for cooking at high temperatures.

12. Instead of soy sauce: Coconut aminos

The majority of soy that is grown today is genetically modified (GMO) and also contains phytoestrogens, (12) which can contribute to hormone imbalances. If you love making Asian-inspired dishes, try coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. It looks and tastes almost identical to soy sauce, so you’ll never miss a beat.

13. Instead of mashed potatoes: Turnip and cauliflower mash

Turnips and cauliflowers, when steamed and mashed, have a very similar look and consistency to white potatoes, but without the inflammatory nightshade side-effects, and with more vitamins and fiber and less starch than you’ll get in those ho-hum white potatoes. Add in some garlic, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of ghee for a fool-anybody side dish.

14. Instead of whipped cream: Coconut whip

When you buy a can of coconut milk, you get a tasty prize: a layer of fat on the top of the liquid. Skim this off, stir in some honey, whip it up in a blender or mixer, and place in the fridge for a wonderful alternative to whipped cream, naturally sweetened with superior fats and no casein! Enjoy it with some fresh berries, or use it to top your favorite gluten-free baked dessert everyone can enjoy.

9 Inflammation-Fighting Foods To Always Have On-Hand In Your Pantry + Freezer

1. No sugar added almond butter

I am a huge fan of peanut butter, but eventually I had to admit that almond butter contains more healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients. If you’re having a blood sugar crash, a scoop of almond butter is a great place to turn. You’ll often find me eating almond butter on celery sticks for an afternoon snack at my functional medicine practice.

2. Turmeric

This wouldn’t be a proper list of anti-inflammatory foods without turmeric, the functional medicine world’s favorite spice. We can thank the compound curcumin for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory powers (and it’s bright yellow color!) and while you can find turmeric in many different forms—as an herbal tincture, in a supplement capsule, as a golden milk drink mix—I like to keep it simple and douse my veggies in a simple turmeric powder before I roast them. Just don’t forget to add black pepper as well, it enhances turmeric’s bioavailability (13) in a major way.

3. Canned seafood

I write about the importance of healthy fats all the time. In fact, it’s a major theme throughout my book Ketotarian. We need fats for optimizing brain function, fending off inflammation, and maintaining healthy hormones—and that’s just the short list. Luckily, keeping canned, wild-caught seafood on hand is a great choice for your health (due to it’s high levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3s) and your bank account. Fresh fish can be out-of-this-world expensive and you have to use it right away or it goes bad. When looking for canned fish, make sure you opt for low-mercury fish like pole-caught albacore tuna, sardines, and salmon and look for BPA-free cans like those used by the brand Wild Planet.

4. Frozen broccoli

We’ve all known broccoli is healthy since we were kids, but what does it really do in our body that’s so great? For one, the B vitamins in cruciferous vegetables support methylation, the pathway in your body responsible for supporting detoxification and inflammation systems. The good news is that frozen veggies are cheaper and can even maintain more of the B vitamins that really get to work supporting your health. They defrost super quickly and you can also use them as a low-sugar frozen base for your smoothies.

5. Avocado oil

Coconut oil and olive oil tend to get all the fame, but avocado oil is a great oil to always have in your pantry. It’s chock full of monounsaturated fats and has a mild flavor but a high smoke point, which means you can use it for roasting and sauteing but also on salads and other cold meals. As an added bonus, it’s a reasonable price. In fact, it can be less than $10 dollars for a 25-ounce bottle.

6. Olives

Let’s talk about satiety—one of the reasons why healthy fats are so great. Fats contain 9 calories per gram and unlike carbs, you naturally hit your limit when you’re eating fats. Olives are the perfect example of this: At your next movie night, try eating olives instead of chips or popcorn and observe how you end the movie feeling more satisfied. They also cut down on the blood sugar spikes and crashes that lead to irritability, fatigue, and cravings. Win-win!

7. Hemp protein

In addition to a healthy fast, protein helps keep you full and your blood sugar stable. That said, it can be tough to find a protein powder that doesn’t have unnecessary ingredients and that also tastes good. I typically recommend looking for protein powder made from hemp instead of soy or whey. Hemp is a super clean food and has 12 grams of protein per serving, which is about 4 tablespoons.

8. Canned coconut milk

Dairy is a classic inflammatory food, so for most of my patients I recommend they cut down on dairy or even eliminate it entirely. Cue: full-fat canned coconut milk. This super creamy food can be added to any number of recipes—including oatmeal, chia pudding, smoothies, homemade iced cream—as a milk substitute and is a delicious base for curries and stir-fries. It’s non-dairy and contains no lactose or casein, so you don’t have to worry about uncomfortable gas or bloating.

9. Spirulina powder

Did you know that spirulina contains three times as much protein as beef? It’s true. This algae is one of the most impressive superfoods out there and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. You can add it to your morning smoothies, juices, elixirs, acai bowls and more. Just make sure you look for a product that’s been tested for contaminants and sourced responsibly, there have been some issues with spirulina in the past.

Ready for a last-minute bonus? All of these pantry and freezer staples also happen to be ketotarian-friendly—which means they fit nicely into a clean, mostly plant-based ketogenic diet that is low in carbs and high in anti-inflammatory healthy fats and veggies.

5 Simple Steps To Begin Transforming Your Diet

So many diets, so little time….or are any of them worth your time? It’s no surprise so many people are confused about which diet is the best: Gluten-free, paleo, keto, low-fat, raw, vegetarian, vegan – it’s enough to make a person give up trying to sort through it all and just order a pizza.

When my patients ask me where to begin to reclaim their health, I have an answer much simpler than any diet plan: Eat real food, and only real food. Surprisingly, I believe this is almost all you need to know to completely makeover your health, especially if you are in an eating rut, rely on a lot of processed foods, or generally don’t think much about your food choices. Here’s how to accomplish this simple yet transformative makeover in just five steps:

1. Throw out “food-like substances”

Author Michael Pollan first coined the term “food-like substances” to describe processed food, or food your great grandmother may not have recognized as food. You know what I’m talking about – I mean something so far from its natural form as a plant or an animal that it seems almost too futuristic to be food (because it is!). Go through your fridge and your pantry and sort through everything that

  1. Isn’t a plant, or doesn’t come from a plant
  2. Did not come from an organic farm.

The simple fact is that the food industry spends a lot of money on marketing food to you, but not a lot on producing quality, nutrient-dense, natural foods. The fresher the food, the better, so focus on fresh vegetables and fresh organic or free-range animal products and limit the amount of boxed and shelf-stable foods.

Also toss out foods that cause the most inflammation in your body, like those with added sugar or things that turn into sugar, like refined grains and flour products. Our culture is grain addicted, so this advice might cause you to break out in a cold sweat, but that’s just a sign of an unhealthy dependence and an even better reason to move on from these food-like substances!

2. Read labels

Generally, I prefer food without any label at all, but there are some real food choices that do have labels, so bring your reading glasses and look for these key terms:

Healthy fats: extra virgin coconut oil, full-fat grass-fed dairy products (especially raw or fermented), avocado oil, organic and pastured whole eggs, raw nuts and seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.

Organic produce: Conventional produce tends to be covered in pesticide residue and is also grown in soil that is largely depleted of nutrients. Organic vegetables and fruits are superior choices.

Clean protein: Chicken should be free-range/pastured, fish should be wild-caught, and beef should be grass-fed.

Stay around the periphery of the grocery store to find the most natural foods – the center of the supermarket is typically where you’ll find the boxed, canned, and bagged foods. If you do buy packaged food, look for things with just a few natural real-food ingredients you recognize and know your body will recognize too. If the label is a paragraph of unrecognizable or unpronounceable words, pass. Also, go local when possible, or visit a farmers’ market where you can find quality real food.

3. Create a working meal plan and rely on it

Once you’ve filled your kitchen with real foods, create a simple meal plan using a variety of the different foods you bought, so you never have to wonder what to eat (or make a last-minute bad decision). Simple homemade salads, soups, roasted veggies, and baked fish or meat make wholesome, nourishing meals without much effort. It’s also a good idea to try new things. Be adventurous – you might discover a new recipe or vegetable you love! Once you’ve made this meal plan and adjusted it to fit your taste and schedule, stick with it. Organizing your week of meals sets you up for a deliciously healthy week.

4. Leap into healthy

Forget about leaning in – how about going all in? When you make a commitment to a new way of living, you will see quicker results. That means going cold-turkey on the junk and processed food, but you don’t need that stuff anyway. At the same time, be patient and give yourself grace. Stress isn’t healthy either, so don’t stress out about being a perfect eater. No one is. When you eat something that isn’t healthy, learn from the experience and be aware of how it made you feel afterwards. This is how you cultivate a growing awareness of the effects of food on your body. It’s an integral part to building new habits.

5. Focus on nourishing yourself, not depriving yourself

Instead of focusing on all the foods you “can’t have,” focus on all the amazing, delicious, nourishing, health-building foods you can have. Then, eat consciously. Sit down and be present. Chew mindfully. As you eat, think about how every bite either creates health or tears it down. Enjoy eating because you know you’re giving every cell of your body a great gift: the nutrients it needs to be healthy and abundant. Eat as though your life depended on it….because it does. When you’re eating real, nutrient-dense foods, your body will begin to tell you when it’s full, so listen to your body’s messages.

5-Week Health Challenge: Are you up for it?

I challenge you to do these five steps for five weeks, and journal your journey during this time. Each day, write down what you eat and how you feel during this process of creating health for yourself. Your health journal will further strengthen the organization, accountability, and presence that is already manifest as you proceed down the straight and narrow path towards optimal health and a more vigorous and vibrant.

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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Gut Feelings

Healing The Shame-Fueled Relationship
Between What You Eat And How You Feel