Ditch The Labels Already
Why Do We Have to Label The Way We Eat?
Paleo, Plant-based, Keto.......
Don't get me wrong I am all for people choosing a healthy eating lifestyle that works for them, but the one thing I have noticed through my years in the field is that these labels and trends come and go. Hello zone diet, atkins, south beach??? Ring a bell anyone?
I have ALWAYS been a big fan of plain old healthy eating. But this doesn't sell, it's not catchy and no one every says "I am following the healthy eating diet". We are so screwed up with the overwhelm of "health" information that we don't even know what healthy eating is anymore. People also love to jump on board with the next big thing. I get it, it sells. I am not trying to be pessimistic here, I know that there are people out there that have it figured out and LOVE that...but the reality is that I work with thousands of people who struggle with food their weight and the way they feel in their bodies.
Two reasons nutrition can seem so complex:
1. Nutrition is a science - studies will always come out evolving our knowledge on the subject which is great but it does mean information will change.
2. Everybody's needs are different - there is no one size fits all nutrition plan that will work for everyone.
If there was a one size fits all plan that worked for everyone we would all be fit and obesity would be a thing of the past. But there isn't...
So how do we know what to eat? SO glad you asked! Here is my "healthy eating diet" which doesn't fit into a label and it works amazing for me and my body, I am sharing because if you are struggling with food, nutrition, or weight, changing diets, or just don't know what the fuck to eat...I hope this information shed's some clarity and helps you.
Step #1 - Learn to Listen to Your Body
If you eat something and it makes you bloated, give you gas, makes you sleepy, bogged down, or spikes in sugar followed by the inevitable crash.....then stop eating those foods. Even if they are healthy. Your body is smart, like way smarter than we give it credit - when it sends you these messages you need to listen.
If you are not sure what foods are making you feel a certain way I recommend keeping a food journal for a few days and tracking what you are eating. It will be easier to notice a pattern.
On the flip side if their are foods that you eat that make you feel fantastic keep those foods in your "diet". On a side note I cringed a little writing that word because for years it meant a fad diet, a weight loss plan from hell, self torture, followed by a beaten up self-esteem.... but guys it's just a word. If you look up the definition it basically means the way you eat on a daily basis and if you are reading this chances are you want to follow a healthy eating lifestyle which a great way to eat on the regular which would actually make it a healthy diet. What? Let's not get hung up on the logistics and focus on how to actually ensure we are eating healthy.
Step # 2 - Learn What Our Bodies Actually Need to Thrive
You'll hear a lot of talk about "Macros" and balancing your macros. Macro's stands for macronutrients which consist of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. These are the 3 key nutrients the body needs in large quantities to thrive. I don't want to go into a lot of detail because nutrition is really complex as we mentioned earlier, my goal is to make it simple for you.
The problem with a lot of Label's or Fad Diets is that often they restrict one of the macronutrients. For example: Keto is high fat and protein and low carb... which yes you will lose weight but can you eat that way for the rest of your life? Will their be healthy consequences after eating that way for a long time? And I am not saying this to be rude...all of this is coming from my heart, if you know me you know I can only speak my truth.... Heck, if Keto is working for you then rock it....who am I to say not to....but I have seen this trend before and it ALWAYS ends the same way.
We want to create a lifestyle, a way of eating that we could happily eat this way for life. A way that doesn't starve us, restrict, bloat, spike, gain weight, or feel crappy in our bodies...a way where we feel energized, have mental clarity, satiated, no bloated, gas, basically we want to feel really good and confident in our body and it all starts with food.
Ok so back to learning about what our bodies need to thrive - we need all 3 macronutrients:
1. Carbs - think vegetables, fruits, whole grains
- Carbohydrates provide energy for the body as well as essential vitamins and minerals
2. Protein - lean meats, eggs, legumes, nuts & seeds
- Protein is important for your hair, skin, nails, digestive system, immune system and building & repairing your muscle tissue. Protein is also essential or metabolism.
3. Fats - avocados, oils, nuts, seeds (chia seeds), nut butters, hemp hearts, salmon
- Fats are important for cell growth and development, hormones, nutrient absorption
This is the most simplistic way to breakdown macronutrients please know there is enough information that we could break each of these down into their own blog post but that's not the goal for today. I want to make it really easy for people to understand what to eat, and why restricting one of the key nutrients might not be a great idea. I tried to explain this in a way that my 8 year old would understand because we can make it that simple. At home I talk with the kids about nutrition and why it's important to eat healthy. I want to empower them to make great choices and of course I want to do the same for all of you.
Step #3 - Balance Your Plate
So now that we know what we need, let's translate that to what you are actually going to put on your plate.
- Start by filling half your plate with veggies - aim to eat the rainbow because each colour has different key vitamins, minerals, phytochemical and other key nutrients. If you need more carbohydrates you can add in some grains about a palm size serving or 1/2 cup. The amount will change based on your gender, age, lifestyle, activity level etc. So know this is a baseline. Obviously if you are a teenage male whole is very active you are going to need a lot more.
- Next add in a lean protein source - chicken, fish, shrimp, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. One serving of meat is 3-4 oz about the size of a deck of cards, if you are plant-based 1/2 cup beans (for more sources and servings sizes read blog on plant protein). This obviously covers are protein source.
- The last thing we need to consider is our healthy fats so add in a thumbs size amount of fats - 1/4-1/2 avocado, 1 tablespoon almond butter, sprinkle your salad with chia seeds or hemp hearts, or drizzle some homemade dressings with heart healthy oils. If you have only ever used one oil before I recommend trying some new ones. Hemp oil is great for salad dressing bases or any raw purposes. Flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil are also great oils to add into your healthy fats section.
Step #4 - Eat real food.
This is one of the most important steps. Now that you know what your body needs, how to create a meal I want you to ensure that each item you pick is a whole food or real food. What does that mean? You pick foods that don't have nutrition labels for example a zucchini is just a zucchini nothing else. That is a real food. Quinoa is another great example. The shorter the ingredient list the better. Then you take all these foods and make a meal.
So when you are selecting a carb for your plate you're not grabbing a store bought pizza you're adding in veggies, or whole grains that are not processed. For your next meal or the next time you shop be aware of how many things you add in that are processed. Try to find alternatives that are not as processed. For example instead of buying processed deli meats, you can buy a whole organic chicken or black beans or nuts or seeds.
Ok time for me to whip up some lunch all this talk about healthy eating really stirred up an appetite. I hope this helps, and as I mentioned this is who I am in, this is what I believe to be true, this is what my experience how shown me over and over again so I wanted to share my knowledge with all of you. Cause I love you guys. I really do! I want you to live your best life and I truly believe the only way to start doing that is with a properly nourished body. If you have any questions please leave a comment so I can get back to you.