MY EATING APPROACH
No dietary labels
I don't label myself vegan, paleo, gluten-free or macro-biotic, simply because I've seen too many vegans who eat junk food, or gluten-free people who eat too many cookies. I don't advocate one eating style because it is not a true indication of how healthful your diet really is.
Eat a real, whole foods diet
I eat a wide range of real, whole, minimally processed foods, organic if possible - a ton of vegetables, lots of whole grains and legumes, some meat and very little flour and sugar. I try to stay away from bad oils, added sugar and all the nasty artificial stuff. My motto is "Eat food that comes from a plant, not made in the plant".
Supply, not deny
Dieters are usually nutrient-deficient because the first thing they think about is - "What should I NOT eat? " By eating less calories and cutting out food groups they leave behind big nutritional gaps in their diet. I believe in crowding out - focusing on adding, not just subtracting, eating lots of nutrient dense foods to crowd out the bad stuff.
Eat like how you'd like to eat for the rest of your life
I am not a big fan of drastic measures such as detoxes or cleanses, because at the end of each cleanse, the "now what" question inevitably shows up, and if you don't have an exit plan, how long would the benefits last anyway? I much prefer working on the exit plan itself - a sustainable long-term eating approach I'd like to follow for the rest of my life.
Listen to your body
I believe there is no single diet that works for everyone. We are all SO different and the only way to find out whether we should eat eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, or cut out gluten and dairy is to develop the skill of paying attention and listening to our bodies. Now... that doesn't give us the green light to eat ice-cream instead of veggies just because our bodies tell us to! There is a certain nutrition baseline we all have to meet. But beyond that, we need to hone our listening skills and experiment to fine tune our unique eating styles.
Get in the kitchen
Cooking is non-negotiable if you are serious about health. No restaurant will care about what you eat and where the food comes from as much as you do. Cooking is a health habit for me, just like running or yoga. It is a daily practice, not a weekend hobby or a rare activity during Christmas. It could be overwhelming or intimidating at the beginning, but just like any activity, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Relax, follow the 80/20 rule
We need to draw boundaries with everything in life, whether it's at work or raising kids. Eating is the same. I go for dim sum, I'd like an occasional croissant or Chinese egg custard tart, I eat a little sugar or pizza when I'm at a restaurant. I make room for some of the bad stuff and try not to get too uptight, but I also know where my boundaries are and make sure I eat clean at least 80% of the time.