5 Essential Foods For Your Diet

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strawberry field

Do you sometimes think what food should you eat regularly, or base your diet around? The truth is there are no real “Essential” foods but rather foods which will help you in your journey towards heath and fitness. To me an “Essential” food should:

  • Taste Good
  • Be Flexible in its uses
  • Have Unique health benefits
  • Easy to find and buy
  • Affordable

This sounds funny as many of the health foods touted these days are weird super fruit or greens products which are expensive, hard to find and probably taste pretty bad. These days people are looking for health quick fixes and the food which will magically transform their body, the truth is this cannot happen. Food is just food. Eat healthy for long enough and good things will come and your ideal body will take shape.

Coconut Oil - All coconut products are great but coconut oil specifically has special benefits mainly due to its concentration of Lauric Acid which is a potent anti-bacterial and can help clean out and detoxify your insides. As well as this it is a potent metabolism booster and this is not due to any stimulating effects like coffee (so don’t worry about sleeping)….. You can try it for yourself, have a TBSP of coconut oil with your next meal (try it mixed into oatmeal or rice) and I guarantee after 30 minutes you will feel noticeably hotter showing your metabolism has had a kick start. Top it off with the fact that coconut oil is the best stuff for cooking thanks to its stability under high temperatures making it a definite essential.

FlaxSeeds - These are cheap and healthy with unique benefits. Be sure to buy unground flax and grind them yourself as this will save you money and keep them fresh, as the main problem with flax is their tendency to go rancid quickly when ground. You can pick up a huge bag of them for around $5 and with a pestle and mortar you can grind them when you like. Flax has a unique anti-oxidant in the form of Lignans which shield against cancer. They are also a great source of fiber and high in Omega-3′s. Plus they are versatile and go nicely on Yoghurt or Salads.

Greek Yoghurt - Like normal yoghurt but better as it is strained to provide more nutrition and better taste. It is higher in protein than normal yoghurt giving it a thicker and more creamy texture. This makes it more filling and more versatile as it can be used as a snack or even as an alternative to cream in dressings or served up with things like sweet potato instead of sour cream as a high protein, lower fat alternative. Try mixing these together and using it as a dressing/dip.

  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Dried Chilli flakes

Oatmeal - Another cheap and versatile staple. The beauty of oats is how slowly they are digested, provide a good hit of soluble fiber and most importantly work as a nourishing and satisfying breakfast. I like to make mine with coconut milk and a dash of cinnamon then topped with berries. Oats are the best alternative to conventional sugary cereals and something that the whole family can get into the habit of eating daily as there are so many recipes and possibilities when making cooked oats. Plus they are Gluten free.

Roots - I was going to do sweet potatoes but I really think all kind of root vegetables are great and they can all be an essential part of your diet from the humble white potato to the turnip. Roots are by far the best way to get your carbs in, the white potato is the most satiating food around (test devised by Holt et al in 1995). I find when eating potatoes with dinner my appetite or sense of being full comes far quicker than when having rice or foregoing the starch. They are also a great source of minerals and their protein content/bio-availability is the best among non-animal sources far out doing soy.

Enjoy these foods as much as you please, they all seem to have natural appetite control mechanisms and are difficult to overeat. Plus they are all cheap, easily available and easy to use regularly.


  1. Matthias says

    Dunno about flax seeds.

    Apart from that, nice list!

    @ Matthias: I know what you mean in terms of Omega6 content but I feel when freshly ground they provide a great source of fiber and a unique anti-oxidant benefit not found in other nuts/seeds. I try to keep PUFA low but still have a tbsp of fresh ground flax in yoghurt almost daily. Plus they be cheap :-)

  2. Grok says

    I’ve been tossing flax seeds into everything and grinding them with my teeth Ha-ha. Awesome on salads. Add that little bit of nutty crunch.

    On the O-6… My diet has been WAY higher in O-6 lately, but it’s all been coming from non-processed real food sources. The inflammation in my joints is better than it’s ever been.

    I’ll skip the oats and opt for quinoa. Not cheap though. I’ve been eating quinoa with coconut oil during my vegan experiment. Sometimes I toss in other stuff like maca root & berries.

    Lovin the roots, but I’ll pass on the white spuds until I’m really broke. Too man other better (and better tasting) options. I look at white spuds like bread… Just a tasteless vehicle for calories. I already over-consume, so eliminating these vehicles is very helpful for me to keep calories in check. I guess this isn’t a problem for others if they provide satiation.

    @ Grok: You will love this recipe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYGkgg87ZRU try it with sweet potatoes instead of the white ones. Really amazing!

  3. Greg says

    A good combination.

    I don’t eat a lot of flax, mainly because the omega oils go rancid so quickly. The best workaround I’ve found is to store the seeds in the refrigerator and grind the seeds into a meal just before use.

    It works well, but its a lot of trouble…

  4. Chris Sturdy says

    Greek yogurt was tonight’s dessert with some strawberries – love it. Thick as a brick and so full of fat!

    Roots are a staple in my diet. We had a beautiful, naturally sweet roasted yam for dinner on Sunday night. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, white potatoes on occasion, are all great.

    Coconut oil makes excellent tasting fried eggs and sweet potatoes fries in the oven.

    I don’t do grains any more and like Grok use quinoa instead – had quinoa in my coconut curry chicken soup tonight. I found some organic quinoa at COSCO of all places.

    @ Chris: I love Quinoa as well and it is a great alternative. Personally I feel the evils of grains are slightly over blown especially with things like Oats, which I re-introduced to my diet after being grain free for a long time without any negative repercussions. In fact I find it very soothing and it digests easily while keeping me satisfied for a long time.

    I am a little ambivalent about the flax seeds, although there is a small stash in my cupboard…maybe I should add them to my salads like Grok…

  5. Chris Sturdy says

    I didn’t see where in the post that Mark recommended occasionally eating oatmeal on the link you provided. Maybe I am missing it? Or it’s a different link?

    @ Chris: If you scroll down right to the bottom of the article he talks about old-fashioned oatmeal as a “sensible vice” from primal eating. So long as it is eaten with lots of cream and butter.

  6. sangita says

    Very nice and informative! New to my knowledge …well sort of, is the greek Yoghurt. That salad dressing bit is really going to be useful as is Chris Sturdy’s recommendation for coconut oil for fried egg and fries. Thanks a lot.

  7. sian-girlgetstrong says

    Great food list..too bad I don’t like coconut taste…urghhh..I replace that with evoo.

    @ Sian: Try refined coconut oil as it has no flavour but retains all the benefits. Its flavourless nature means you can use it to cook anything without it affecting the taste.

  8. Patrick says

    Nice post–but I also did not see where Mark Sisson recommended oatmeal and I searched the page and found only 2 instances of the word “oatmeal”. Oats are a grain–so I am surprised he would recommend them in any capacity.

    @ Patrick: I just checked the link and they seem to have edited removed the oatmeal. It was definitely on the list with a big picture and all… Anyhow I have changed my post now, but will update if I can recover evidence from before the edit :-)

  9. Luke M-Davies says

    Love the shortlist Chris!

    Agree that there is a bit of an issue around oats but they are one grain I am prepared to eat. I’m happy with what I gain from a hearty bowl of porridge and cannot speak of any negative impact on my health normally associated with grains.

    I would probably have to go with Berries in my list (Blueberries mmm) or Cherries (mmm!).

    On the Greek Yoghurt front – I love to indulge in full fat FAGE….creamy goodness.


  10. Mike says

    Good article; I put ground flax seed on top of my oatmeal and greek yogurt all the time. It adds a little healthy fat and fiber, and also tastes great.

    Best – Mike

  11. Adam | SEE says

    *Beets for dinner last night and sweet potatoes w/ breakfast. Going to the roots early and often. Part of my underground diet. ;)

    *Flax seeds go in my smoothies. I let the blender grind them a little and they tend to thicken up whatever concoction I have going.

    *Definitely want to try the Greek yogurt dressing. I have to go the DIY route on Greek yogurt, as it is not available near me.

    *Will look for coconut oil to experiment with.

    *Thanks for the flow of great ideas.


  1. [...] Greek Yogurt Dressing/Dip. A simple and healthy recipe that I’ll be using on my salads this summer! Chris, a personal trainer studying naturopathic medicine, shares what he knows about fitness and healthy lifestyle on Zen to Fitness. [...]

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