Eat what grows on the ground, falls from the tree and swims in the sea…
Most people try to be conscientious about what and how they eat, but let’s face it, every once in a while, you just need to have that cheesy slice of pizza or that pint of ice cream that makes you feel good, at least for a while. With all the information and options out there regarding food and nutrition, (talk about overload!) it can be totally frustrating trying to eat healthy. Not to mention reading labels. When was the last time you looked at a food label without your head spinning?
Below are some things I would like you to shoot for, the next time you plan your next meal, reach for a snack or head to the supermarket to shop.
- Eat fresh produce as frequently as possible. Try to have a serving of fruit or vegetables at every meal. Eating vegetables is one of the best ways to drop body fat fast.
- Don’t avoid fats, just make sure they are good fats (i.e. nuts, avocado, olive oil, and nut butters). Stay away from hydrogenated butter and margarine.
- Your diet should consist of whole, natural foods, which are defined as high-quality proteins, whole unprocessed carbohydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables and a lot of water. Sometimes when you are battling a craving, you are actually dehydrated. Trying drinking a big glass of water before you reach for those high calorie snacks.
- If you eat protein bars, be very careful of the ingredients. Many of them are loaded with hidden sugars such as beet sugar, dextrose, lactose, maltose/maltodextrin, maltitol (all sugar alcohols). If you are going to go for a replacement protein, try a protein shake.
- Cut back on caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause a drop in blood sugar levels that leads to an acceleration of fat storage. Limit yourself to 1-2 cups of a caffeinated drink per day.
- When it comes to reading labels, pay attention to:
- Sugar. Avoid food item that contain more than 9 grams of sugar per serving.
- Calories. If you are trying to maintain a 1500-2000 calorie-a-day limit, make sure the food product contains no more than 150 calories per snack serving or 450 calories per meal serving
- Portion Size. Don’t be fooled by serving size. Many packages contain multiple servings but are not listed clearly as such.
- Ingredients: If the ingredient list is longer than 6-7 items, then you shouldn’t be eating it.
- Be wary of fat-free food. Just because it says fat-free does not mean it’s good for you. These processed foods are usually loaded with sugars and other additives that are just as bad for you as sugar.
- Keep a food diary. Tracking what you eat, when, where and how as well as why will help keep you honest. And make you more aware of where you need to be just a little bit better.
- When shopping, stay close to the perimeter of the store and out of the aisles. Find your local Farmers Market. Or head for the nearest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. A slight increase your food budget may reap big dividends for your overall health, well worth it!
- Don’t skip breakfast. Enough said!
- Slow down! Learn to enjoy eating your food. Allow yourself time to digest and make an honest decision about going for a second helping.
- Stay away from fad diets or diets that suggest you eliminate nutrients you know your body needs. Your body doesn’t immediately need to go on a strict paleo or vegan diet to see benefits … what it needs is an increased amount of better-quality nutrients in better balance, more often.
To summarize, add more whole-foods to your diet, as well as plant-based items, while still allowing yourself some wiggle room. I’m all for having the occasional glass of wine (or two) or chocolate bar. Allow yourself a cheat day, where you can splurge and not feel guilty. Eating ultimately should be enjoyable. It shouldn’t feel like a prison sentence!
I would love to hear how you are doing with your diet and nutrition. What works for you? What struggles have you had.
With love and encouragement,