Food, shelter and sleep are pretty much essential human needs, right?
Sounds pretty simple: eat, sleep, and check the weather forecast.
And yet these things do not always come naturally to us. Shelter we get for the most part, sleep we understand but certainly struggle with actually doing, and food, well, that’s a whole other ball game.
Food. We need it, we love it. It can be both our best friend and our biggest enemy. We know how to eat it, but we don’t know how to really use it.
Depending on what, when and how we eat, we get very different results.
Sadly there is not a lot of time and effort put into educating people about food, and much of what we do know is created and influenced by marketing and money – two things that almost never have a person’s best interests in mind. The result is a lot of confusion about food and how to eat in a way that keeps us healthy, prevents us from gaining weight or allows us to lose unwanted weight. I won’t pretend this is not a complex issue – it absolutely is and nutrition is so unique to an individual it is almost pointless to make any blanket claims about the right or wrong way to eat.
There are, however, ways to simplify nutrition that work for most people and generally allow you to be healthy, feel good and look the way you want without having to put a lot of time and effort in to things.
I’ve narrowed this down to five “Food Philosophies” that will not only change your body but also could potentially, over time, have a dramatic impact on your life.
Fresh is always best.
The first thing you can do that has a dramatic effect on not just your weight but also how you feel, is to eat as much freshly prepared food as possible. This means buying groceries, cooking at home and not relying on fast food, packaged meals or restaurants. The more a food is broken down in processing (which is done to make it less perishable) the more it loses its natural nutrient-density. If you really want to get the most nutritional value from your food you want it to be as fresh as possible. Shop frequently and cook at home. Purchasing from local farmers markets or even growing your own fruits and veggies is even better.
Avoid packaged/processed foods.
These can be good in a pinch, but if your entire diet consists of foods that can only come from a factory, you’re probably missing out on vital vitamins and minerals that can only come from eating fresh foods. One good rule to follow is if you couldn’t grow it or kill it, you probably shouldn’t eat a lot of it. I am not suggesting eliminating these foods completely, but try to be sure the only make up a small portion of your daily diet.
Learn about labels and be skeptical.
Unfortunately in this country you can’t trust the claims made by food companies. Misleading claims and even flat out false information is allowed on food labels. You have to be your own advocate and know what is true and what isn’t. Beware of packaging or wording used to make something appear healthy when it really isn’t. When you look at a label, check the first three ingredients as they are listed from most to least. Watch for things like “high fructose corn syrup,” “brown rice syrup,” and “maltodextrin” – all names for chemically processed sugar. When checking calorie and sugar counts be sure you also look at serving size; nutritional information is almost never listed for the whole package. If something claims it has “no trans fat” or “no sugar” be aware this claim is allowed if it is less than a certain amount per serving – which doesn’t always mean the product doesn’t contain any. It can still contain a small amount in each serving and be labeled as “sugar free.”
Practice portion control.
One of the biggest issues we have in our society in regards to food is just the sheer size of our portions. Over-the-top restaurant servings and misleading package labeling has distorted our view of what an appropriate amount of food is. Even healthy food can cause you to gain weight if you are not mindful of portions. For example, 1/4 cup of almonds is a little more than a handful but contains over 200 calories. Now imagine grabbing a few handfuls at a time. Without even realizing you can scarf down over 600 calories! Many people have had success losing weight just by becoming more aware of portion size. That’s why programs like the 21 day fix (which has color-coded portion containers) and Weight Watchers can work – they force you to cut back on the amount of food you eat in one meal.
In this case I don’t mean in your life, but actually on your plate. You want to eat a good balance of both macro and micronutrients. That means your meal should include not only fresh, nutrient-dense foods but also a carb, a fat and a protein. When I begin working with a nutrition client who is already mostly eating healthy but not getting results, I often discover it is because while they are paying attention to the quality and quantity of what they eat, they are not taking into consideration the category. This means a healthy diet could be very high in carbs or fats and very low in protein. Or, on the flip side, they might be trying to hard to avoid “junk” that they end up with hardly any carbohydrates in their diet which often leads to feeling sluggish and tired. Optimal health comes from eating the proper balance of all three macros (protein, carbs and fats) daily.
There is no one answer that is right for everyone when it comes to nutrition and what works best for your body. But applying these five rules is a good way to start along the path towards better health and creating a body that moves well, feels good and can generally handle the challenges of every day life.
If you’re still feeling stuck on how to make this way of eating a lifestyle, I’ve created a free recipe book full of simple, delicious and healthy recipes to get you started.
This book contains over 30 recipes that are clean and nutritious but won’t take a ton of time or energy.
They are tried and tested by myself and my husband, and make great options for feeding not only you but your whole family!
Healthy eating does not have to be time-consuming, bland or boring. Download your free copy of my Eat Clean recipe book and start living (and eating) healthier today!