Healthy Eating Basics: Your Detailed Guide to "What do I eat to stay healthy?"Jun 16, 2021
How to eat your way to a healthier and happier you
FOOD! Relationship status: It’s complicated
It’s something we all have to consume to stay alive and yet…
...food and your relationship to it can get a little tricky at times.
Ever snack when you’re bored or emotional or in love or because it’s Thursday? Who hasn’t!
My own relationship with food has taken many twists and turns over the years...I became a vegetarian in junior high after learning about Buddhism...then I became a pescatarian for a while...then I cut out dairy altogether because it was giving me insane migraines…
And what about meat? Well it’s been on and off my plate more times than a Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez romance...
Oh and when I first got together with my hubby? Enter: beer, bread, cheesy fries, oh my!
It’s perfectly ok to indulge in your favorite foods every now and then...I mean what actually is the point in living if you can’t have the odd glass of wine? It’s when these occasional foods become everyday foods that a bad habit starts to develop.
Now, nutrition isn't black & white, so what works for your body may not work for mine. But here's the most simple advice I can give you: EAT CLEAN!
Yeah, great but does it actually mean to eat CLEAN?!
Well, it’s an emphasis on whole, healthy, delicious foods while avoiding the processed junk found in our current food system!
You may be moving your body a lot (or not at all, I’m not judging), but you also need to take a closer look at what we’re putting in our bodies. Nutrition is a key component to success in health and in all other areas of our lives.
If you’re not fueling your physical and physiological needs the right way, you’ll end up sore, fatigued, & likely won’t hit your goals either!
So let’s make a pact to keep each other accountable & encourage whole, healthy foods as an inspiration to women everywhere! Deal? Good.
What foods should you eat more of?
- Appropriate servings of meat (about palm size in one sitting)
- Healthy fats (nuts & seeds)
- Fresh vegetables (cooked & raw)
- Fruits! (whole, not juiced)
- Eat real, whole foods whenever possible!
- If the earth didn’t make it that way - then it’s most likely processed.
What foods should you eat less of?
What I'd encourage you to AVOID in excess:
- Dairy (cheese, milk, cream, butter, etc.)
- Alcohol: a huge empty-calorie hit - consider limiting or consuming up to 1 drink a day max
- Overly Processed grains (breads, pastas, biscuits, pastries, cookies, desserts, etc.)
- Sugar!!! (did you know these are all sugars too: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, etc.)
Food creates energy
What we eat provides us energy, rebuilds tissue, controls hormone function, feeds our brain, & so much more!
Be mindful of what you put in your body & take the time out to eat whole, nutritious meals when you can. Of course it isn’t always possible (hello birthdays, airplanes and ‘oops I forgot to get groceries, maccas it is’ scenarios) but if you try to eat clean as much as you can you’ll notice a real difference in how you feel each day.
Macronutrients: What the heck are they?
Macronutrient: a substance (as a protein, carbohydrate, or fat) required in relatively large quantities for growth, energy, & health — compared to a micronutrient.
Although I'm not a Nutritionist, I have studied within the parameters of health-related recommendations as a Certified Nutrition Specialist & NASM Certified Personal Trainer.
Anyone with special conditions may not heed this information, but consider the following general, accepted guidelines for healthy eating.
- These are your main sources of fuel & energy!
- Should make up the majority of your foods at about 45-65% of your daily intake.
- Fruits & veg are the best kind of carbs, but any kind of complex carbohydrates are the next best.
- Eat complex whole grain carbs or starchy vegetables & avoid simple, refined processed products. What that means is more foods like oatmeal, squashes, potatoes, rice, beans, or quinoa & less white bread, pasta, tortillas, packaged desserts or cereal.
- Think about swapping for healthy vegetables like squashes (butternut, spaghetti, acorn), sweet potato, or cauliflower. Complex carbs also contain your fiber, soluble & insoluble, from real food - aim for about 25-38g per day to maintain a healthy digestive tract!
- Fats ARE NOT bad!
- The next largest macro, fats can make up to 30-35% of your calories without putting on weight.
- The type of fat you're consuming is what really matters! Aim for unsaturated & plant fats (mono & polyunsaturated) whenever you can.
- Avoid trans or high saturated fats. Partially hydrogenated fats are absolutely a no-go!
- This macronutrient does not necessarily need to be supplemented or added to a diet. Most times it actually SHOULD NOT be taken in supplement form. Typically you’re getting all you need through the foods you eat - especially if you’re a carnivore.
- Protein can be as low as 10% of your calories depending on your strength demands. Why? When protein goes unused by physiological functions (i.e. hormone control or muscle tissue repair) it will convert to fat in the body. Yup.
- Lean protein is most recommended. Avoid highly fatty protein sources, & the fresher the better.
- Good sources include fish, white meats, beans, edamame, nuts, eggs, amaranth, or quinoa.
5 Tips for Better Health
Now we've got the basics down on our macronutrients & necessary clean eating for health. Go us!
Here are some more tips to keep in mind as your relationship with food develops over time.
- Drink Water: It keeps you hydrated & aids in the proper functioning of our internal organs. Women need a minimum of 72 ounces (9 cups) of water a day. Try to drink 10-15 ounces upon waking up & before you start working out. As a rule of thumb, consume about 8 ounces for every 10-15 minutes of exercise. Add an extra 8 ounces of water per hour throughout the day for help with weight loss & re-hydration from working out! This should be increased in higher temperatures!!!
- Breakfast: They say it's the most important meal of the day - which sounds cheesy, but could be true. Eating throughout the day is important too, but it's best to eat shortly after waking up - or right after a morning workout - to kickstart your metabolism & end the fast from the previous day.
- Caloric Deficit: If one of your goals is weight loss, it is said to be accomplished by a caloric deficit - meaning you burn more calories in a day than consuming. Does that mean you need to cut your calorie intake? Not necessarily. Maybe if portion control or late-night snacking is an issue. But maybe you can find ways to burn more throughout the day - especially if you sit for work. Integrating more movement into your whole day is an important step in upping your caloric expenditure as well as maintaining mobility. The majority of our calories are spent on keeping our bodies up & running physiologically, along with our regular movement patterns.
- Sugar: We (meaning me & you) eat way too much SUGAR in our diets - it hides in everything. Something being gradually added to nutrition labels is "included sugars", which is helpful to track added sugar in your diet. Be mindful of this high calorie, low-to-no nutrient ingredient. These added sugars can include but aren't limited to: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, & sucrose.
- Take Time to Eat: The relationship we cultivate with our food can sometimes be more impactful than what we're consuming. Read more here on how simply taking time to chew my food has changed my whole life.
Food Tracking and Keeping a Food Journal
When we're unsure of what's working & what's not, one of the best tools I recommend is to start using a journal or food diary.
Track when, how much, what you eat, & how you feel throughout the day. Using this information can help you pinpoint places of improvement or strategic scheduling of eating times to keep your cravings at bay.
When I work with clients, they generally tend to say the same thing: "My diet is pretty good."
Is it? Is it really? How do you know?
What we tend to think about how we are is not necessarily accurate.
Frankly, most people don't have any clue how or what they're eating or how much they're moving or what their thoughts are doing throughout the day. If you're not seeing any significant changes in your diet, then start a food journal.
Treat it loosely & don't be incredibly regimented, so you can actually keep up with it. Don't weigh or measure all of your food, but get a handle on some easy measurements & go from there. An ounce, a cup, or a tablespoon. Then guesstimate as you go along. A handful of carrots, a cup of rice, or 4 ounces of fish.
Keep it simple.
With journaling & tracking, it's important to be able to read a nutrition label and always skim the ingredients! Not sure how to correctly read a label?
Here's a really great resource. It's long, but an excellent breakdown of how a nutrition label works & what to look out for in order to buy the right foods.
Well that pretty much sums it up! Still not sure how it works or how to get started?! Try tuning into this workshop to learn about implementing healthy habits.
Curious about learning what healthy habits can do for you - in organizing online business systems & living better through wellbeing practices? Book a virtual coffee date to chat.