Where do you start when it comes to healthy eating? Why is it so hard to track down WHAT to do? I’m not really sure, but there is a TON of information out there. I would like to simplify this for you. Lets take a simple look at the basics.
Three things are very important when it comes to eating healthy.
1) Understanding the three macro nutrients.
2) Portion control.
3) Getting in tune with your hunger. Real hunger from the belly, not mouth boredom.
Lets tackle number one, since it’s the biggest.
A lot of us have trouble understanding WHAT the macro nutrients are.
1) Protein- Meat, beans and cheese. (Cheese and dairy has fat AND protein so it can work as both.)
Check out this link which shows you the protein to calorie ratios in these protein rich foods. Protein is used to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make hormones and enzymes. It is a building block for the body which is why protein shakes can be a good choice post workout.
2) Carbohydrates- VEGETABLES, FRUITS and grains.
I think this one is pretty clear as to WHAT they are. Let’s just remember here that carbs are not strictly grains, which means you are not overloading on carbs. You do not need to go on a low carb diet, you need to cut back on muffins, sandwiches and cookies.
Vegetables are so low in calories and FULL of vitamins and minerals. Getting more of these in your diet is NEVER an issue and will not cause a problem. They will help fill you up and make you feel satiated. They contain our life force! Health is literally packed into these foods so eat up, get creative and try new ones. Try not to dip them in to much ranch though. Yes organic is better because pesticides on your food means chemicals in your belly, but we can save that talk for another time. Let’s keep it basic for now.
Fruits are also wonderful for you. The thing about fruit is that we tend to go crazy on it. I would personally suggest clients to limit fruit to two servings per day, but really, diet is never one size fits all, so if more fruit is working for you, go for it. Sometimes we need to play around with our diet to see what we need to change.
Grains. Ohhh grains. Such a debatable topic. Wheat, oats, rice, spelt, kamut, barley and quinoa are some popular ones. Quinoa is technically a seed and although this article is not about being Paleo, an article here is a good explanation on where Quinoa sits. I personally would classify it under grains for the purposes of deciding how much to eat and picking different choices in the diet.
Carbohydrates give us ENERGY! They give us the get up and go that we need! That’s why we should have a lot of them in our diet. Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is used for energy, or stored for later energy use.
3) Fats- Coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, butter, grape seed oil etc.
Fat helps you absorb the vitamins and minerals you eat into the body and make you feel satiated with what you ate, so you aren’t looking for more right away.
Fat is HIGH calorie, so although we want to have lots in our diet we should make sure we are paying attention to portion control.
Here is a great article about all the types of fats out there, and what is good or bad. Trans fats are what we should be avoiding. Basically fake chemical laden things like margarine and anything coated in canola oil. Fast food is loaded with these saturated and trans fats- so lets avoid those places. Pretty clear right?
We also should be paying attention to Omegas, which are found in fats! We hear about them all the time-but let me make it really simple for you.
- Omega-6 is good, but we definitely get enough.
- Omega-3 is GREAT and we definitely don’t get enough. So try to concentrate on things that are high in omega 3. Walnuts, flax seeds and seafood are some. You can also get a high quality fish oil or plant based oil to supplement with. These also contain DHA which is great for brain building, which is why we give it to our babies!
So now that we have covered the three macro nutrients, what we should know is each snack and meal should contain one of each. They compliment each other through the digestion process. To stay full, satiated and energized we should make sure we add them all!
Here are a few examples:
- Salmon cooked in coconut oil with a side of veggies.
- Vegetable omelete cooked with olive oil.
- Salad with avocado and chicken or an oil based dressing like vinaigrette.
Why do we need to control what we eat? Because that’s how we can reduce our intake of calories without counting, weighing or thinking too much about our food. Here is an article about why it is one of the best secrets to weight loss.
THIS article is great for you visual folks. I will break it down for you here.
- Your palm determines your protein portions, dairy is included here.
- Your fist determines your veggie portions.
- Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
- Your thumb determines your fat portions.
Getting in tune with your hunger.
Often times when we think we are hungry we are just thirsty. Let’s admit it, we don’t drink enough water. We all know it. So when you think you want something to eat, have a glass of water and see how you feel! Wait a minute, see what happens. If you really are hungry and your belly is growling, you will feel it in your stomach. I’m not asking you to starve yourself here, but definitely give it a minute to see if you are really, truly hungry. If you stick to your portion control guidelines for each meal/snack you shouldn’t have too many issues in over eating. After a meal you might not feel FULL but you won’t feel hungry either. This is satiated, right where you should be. Eat when you are HUNGRY, stop when you are satiated. Having many meals over the day seems to work well if they are small and portion controlled. If that doesn’t work for you, eat the biggest meals earlier in the day and gradually shrink them over the course of the day. Eating most of your calories in the morning will give you energy and allow you to burn those calories over the course of the day.
A fantastic break down of how hunger should feel is here.
Also the general rule is to check ingredients and not calories. Avoid things with ingredients you cannot pronounce. Not everything you can’t pronounce is horrible for you, but it is a great guideline. Until you get a little deeper into your food journey, that rule will never steer you wrong. There is so much value in eating WHOLE foods. Whole foods have one ingredient and you know exactly how they came into this world. You will see some dramatic results just from dropping anything that comes from a package. Try it for a week, see how it works for you!
Am I missing anything? Let me know! Going to put some of these rules into action? Share your results with us on the facebook page.