What we’re about to tell you may go against everything that mainstream media and popular diets have told you, but…
Food is NOT ✅ “good” or ❌ “bad”.
You aren’t a 😇 good person for eating a 🥕 carrot and a 👿 bad person for eating a 🍩 doughnut.
That’s just not how food works. Maybe morals and religion for some people, but not food.
Popular diets have conditioned us to think that a diet will ONLY work if we do it PERFECTLY. But that’s just NOT TRUE! No one is perfect. Plus, people have achieved incredible results following a variety of different diets or without following any specific diet at all.
At Sleekgeek, we’ve found that thinking about food as “good” or “bad” rarely works out well in everyday messy lives.
For long term success, we need a better 💡 solution.
Food on a ⬅️ Continuum ➡️:
We’d like to invite you to rise above popular diet culture and ditch the “all-or-nothing” mindset.
Rather than thinking about food as either “good” or “bad”, try this: 👉 Look at food as being on a continuum that ranges from “better” to “worse” choices for your goals.
- 🟢 There are foods that are “better” for you and your goals that you should eat MORE often.
- 🟠 There are foods that are “neutral”, insignificant, or context-dependent for you and your goals that you could eat SOME of the time without much impact either way.
- 🔴 There are foods that are “worse” for you and your goals that you should eat LESS often.
A continuum like this allows you to approach nutrition from ➡️ both sides ⬅️.
You can make small sustainable tweaks to your diet where you eat a little bit less of the worse foods AND eat a little bit more of the better foods without needing to do a complete diet overhaul that makes you miserable and is unsustainable.
Here’s the continuum visualised 👇:
Using a continuum like this, you’re able to make mature grown-up decisions 🤔 on a daily basis to decide which 👍 benefits and 👎 consequences you’re willing to trade-off.
- If losing weight is a super high priority for you, then you may want to drink less alcohol and eat less pizza and cookies than you’d like to.
- But if it’s your birthday and having fun is a super high priority for you, then you may want to intentionally drink more alcohol and eat more birthday cake than you usually would.
Ultimately, the context matters and what may be “eat less” for one person may be “eat more” for another person depending on their goals and current situation.
Introducing the 🟢 Green, 🟠 Orange and 🔴 Red Food Lists:
As we hinted at earlier when talking about food on a continuum:
- 🟢 The Green List contains mostly minimally processed healthy whole foods that you want to eat more of and more often because they are usually better for you and your goals.
- 🟠 The Orange List contains neutral and/or context-dependent foods that you might want to eat sometimes in moderation and they’ll be fairly inconsequential for you and your goals.
- 🔴 The Red List contains mostly highly processed food-products that you want to eat less of and less often because they are usually worse for you and your goals.
You’ll notice the 3 Sleekgeek Food Lists kind of work like a 🚦 Traffic Light System.
🧭 Navigating the Continuum:
We’ve only put the most common or most applicable foods in the Sleekgeek Food Lists.
If you aren’t sure where a food might fall on the list, a good rule of thumb is to move away from more processed calorie-dense foods towards healthier minimally processed and lower-calorie foods.
There may be some exceptions from time-to-time, but generally the continuum looks a bit like this:
- 🔴 McDonalds French Fries > 🟠 Homemade Potato Wedges > 🟢 Potatoes.
- 🔴 Tomato Sauce > 🟠 Tomato Puree > 🟢 Tomatoes.
- 🔴 Fruit Juice > 🟠 Apple Sauce > 🟢 Apples.
- 🔴 Deep-Fried Chicken > 🟠 Crumbed Chicken > 🟢 Grilled Chicken.
- 🔴 Yoghurt-Coated Rice Cakes > 🟠 White Rice > 🟢 Brown Rice.
- 🔴 White Bread > 🟠 Whole Grain Bread > 🟢 Whole Grains.
- 🔴 Peanut Butter with Salt and Sugar > 🟠 Natural Peanut Butter > 🟢 Peanuts.
REMEMBER: Food is not good or bad and you’re not a good or bad person for eating whatever you want. But it is good to think about food as moving you closer to or further away from your goals. Use the food continuum to help you eat more of the food that’s better for you and less of the food that’s worse for you.
🎛️ Divided Into 4 Main Food Groups:
- Quality Protein
- Colourful Vegetables
- Smart Carbs
- Healthy Fats
You may recognise protein, carbohydrates, and fats as the three main macronutrients in food.
However, for practical reasons, we have made a distinction between vegetables (which are in fact mostly carbohydrates) and other more calorie-dense and carbohydrate-dense foods.
The Sleekgeek Healthy Meal Template will walk you through how to combine these 4 different main food groups into a healthy and well-balanced meal.
🎯 Focusing on the 🟢 Green List:
“Which healthy foods do you actually like and are willing to eat?”
You see, there are so many healthy foods out there that you don’t need to make yourself miserable by restricting your eating to foods like chicken, broccoli, and rice if you don’t like them.
Health should be a positive thing – it should make your life better, not worse.
- Maybe you really enjoy crunchy carrots or sweet bell peppers? Those are super healthy veggies too!
- Maybe you like to make homemade burger patties? Mince is a great and versatile source of protein.
- Maybe you just want something quick and easy, like some yoghurt or some protein powder – or both! Try mixing them together, it’s life changing!
- Maybe you would prefer to eat less meat and more plant-based proteins? Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, edamame, vegan protein powders… Go for it!
- Maybe you don’t want to cut out carbs from your diet and would rather look at just making better choices like potatoes, rolled oats, chickpeas, or apples.
- Maybe you already know that fat isn’t the enemy, but aren’t so sure about loading up with butter in your coffee so would rather focus on eating a variety of healthy fats in moderation like olive oil, nuts, seeds, coconut, or even natural peanut butter.
As you can see, you actually have a LOT to choose from.
Sure, broccoli or spinach might have the veggie spotlight, but if you don’t like them then it’s going to be a lot harder to eat that instead of a chocolate or a muffin at lunch time.
But if you’re a huge fan of crunchy foods and like carrots, well it might just be a bit easier to make that choice and delay those cravings.
So, find what you ❤️ like, and see how you can do 🚀 more of that more consistently each day.
💪 Hard But 👌 Realistic Effort:
We believe in following a “90/10” approach where:
- 90% of the time, you stick to nutrient-dense minimally processed foods (such as in The Sleekgeek Foods List).
- 10% of the time, you give yourself a bit of flexibility to enjoy some of your favourite foods OR adapt to less than ideal food situations (take special note of this last bit).
This kind of approach still requires a significant amount of commitment and effort, however, it’s generally more realistic and sustainable for most people than being completely restrictive and “all-or-nothing”.
Taking a 90/10 approach is more about intention and lifestyle design than doing mathematical calculations before each meal to figure out what 90% or 10% looks like.
What to do now?
- Highlight healthy foods on the Green List that you actually like and want to make an effort to eat more of.
- Share the Sleekgeek Food Lists with friends and family (www.sleekgeek.co.za/foodlist).
Any questions? Feel free to ask them in the Sleekgeek Health Revolution Facebook Group.
What’s up next?
Up next is our Kitchen Makeover Guide.
This is where we help you design your environment for long-term permanent change.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Sleekgeek Health Revolution Newsletter so we can keep you up to date.