5 guidelines for *HEALTHY* eating
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
"I don't know how to eat."
This statement comes up a lot in my world. Sometimes followed by a goal, "...to feel better/lose weight/gain muscle/stop craving sugar/etc." Other times as is, a blanket statement of confusion, frustration, and/or defeat.
And I find it fascinating because eating is not only a basic necessity for survival, but we do it all day every day! Wild animals have an innate understanding of what to eat, how to read their body cues, and what to do in response to changes or issues. And if it's not entirely instinctive, they're taught by older generations. As humans, we're animals too, but we've lost touch with our innate and wild knowing.
Years ago there was a saying, "If your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, don't eat it." but as the years have gone on, the saying has needed updating. Depending on your age, you may need to ask yourself if your great- or even great-great-grandmother would recognize something as food. If you ask me, that's too many generations back! It's time to de-process our diet, re-wild ourselves, and become teachers for future generations.
Now that we're motivated (haha), what do we do? How should we eat??
Unfortunately media and diet-culture are evil and love to capitalize on mass confusion. Walk into a bookstore or take a gander at magazines in the grocery checkout and you'll see countless books and tips about the newest, healthy diets and best ways to "lose weight fast." Information is EVERYWHERE, but it usually contradicts itself or leaves us with more questions.
It's my mission to demystify nutrition for people, and I'd like to start with this:
There's no such thing as the perfect diet!
No matter what anyone tells you or what you read, there isn’t one right way to eat. Each of us is genetically, chemically, and energetically different, and that means we need different things to feel our best. I'll say that again: what works for me probably won't work for you, and what works for you probably won't work for your best friend. That may or may not be a relief for you (haha), but it's true and fundamental to your vitality. Please stop trying to copy other people's diet -- it doesn't work!
Here are 5 tips you can use to figure out how to eat right for YOU!
1. Start with 30/30/40
30/30/40 refers to percentages of macronutrients: 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carbohydrates. Also known as the Zone Diet, 30/30/40 is an excellent way to begin structuring your meals. If you were loading your plate at a buffet (10-year old me loved buffets... haha), you'd fill 40% of your plate with whole food carbohydrates, 30% of your plate with protein, and the remaining 30% with fat. If you're unsure of what kind of foods represent each macro, READ THIS!
Ideally after trying 30/30/40 for a few weeks or months, you'll evaluate how you feel and experiment with adjusting your ratios for a few weeks. It's important to be consistent to get an accurate idea of how your body reacts/adjusts to changes.
Do you feel more energetic?
Fuller for longer?
Is your skin clearing up?
Are you sleeping better?
These are just a few examples of things to look for when making dietary changes. This is part of getting in tune with your body! Oooh how cool! :) If you find that the 30/30/40 ratio doesn't seem to be work for you, make an adjustment. I'll share more about that in the future!
2. Plate Your Veggies First
Not every meal includes veggies, and that's okay! Whenever possible, however, go for veggies first (especially those greens!) and then plate your protein, fat, and other carbs (cornbread, pasta, etc). This doesn't require measuring, counting, or calculating, it's simply a hack you can use to get your veggies in and keep your blood sugar stable.
By prioritizing getting your veggies in first, you're not only getting vital vitamins and minerals but fiber and hydration too! Plus they're super delicious cooked in butter (buttery steamed/sauteed broccoli with pink salt and pepper is a favorite of mine!) or drizzled with olive oil. Mmmm.... so good :)
3. Snack on Fat
Do you need snacks between meals? What do you usually choose? One of the quickest and easiest snacks you can have (which is great for busy workdays/environments too!) is nuts and seeds. Unlike a piece of fruit or packaged granola bar (which are almost always loaded with syrups and sugars despite the pseudo-healthy packaging), a small handful of nuts or half an avocado can fuel you for hours. That's nice, steady blood sugar from meal to meal without energy slumps or sugar cravings! Heck yeah!
4. Protein Doesn't Have to be the Star of the Show
It's common to think you need to build meals around a hunk of meat, but this isn't true! Protein comes in many forms like beans, lentils, and quinoa! Veggie options are great for added micronutrients and fiber as well.
5. Focus on One Meal at a Time
When deciding what to make or order to eat, consider what you've already eaten (or plan to eat that day) and try to fill in any nutrient gaps. Did you go out for pancakes and mimosas? Make sure you get some veggies and whole food sources of fat and protein in your later meals! Are you having pasta for dinner? Maybe add some spinach to your eggs in the morning (I call those sneaky greens because they wilt down so much you can get a whole serving and hardly notice it!) or add broccoli florets to your pasta.
Eating half a box of Cheez-its and more peanut butter cups than you're comfortable counting for lunch doesn't ruin anything... you can clean it up at dinner ;)
All in All...
There are plenty of other tips and tricks that a person can learn to incorporate, but what it really comes down to is getting your veggies, enjoying protein, and eating more fat to balance your blood sugar. Experiment with your cooking until you find ways that work for you and your family. Change doesn't happen overnight -- it takes practice!
If you’re feeling confused or need guidance, reach out! I can point you in the direction of cookbooks and other information, or we can organize a RESTART class or schedule some individual help to figure out what's going on. Thanks for reading!!