Between fad diets and contradictory information constantly being broadcasted, it’s impossible to know what is actually healthy for us and what is not. We’re all diet dummies. What we do know is that our body is in need of many important vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients. Each individual must also meet a certain amount of macronutrients in order for our body to function properly (3 most important being protein, carbohydrates and fat).
“Carbs are bad”
“Fat is bad for you”
“Meat is bad for you”
Everyone is saying something different. So what the heck are you supposed to eat?
The thing about fad diets is that they’re aimed towards those who want to lose weight quickly, and they’re often not actually that healthy. Do any of you have a fit friend who seems to eat all day, eat out on the weekends, never refuses cake, yet is still in good shape? Are you that friend?
These friends do not have superpowers.
It’s that these friends have learned what works for their bodies and implement it. We all like food. We all like something thats unhealthy. It’s hard to completely cut items out, which is why it’s important we learn to balance our diets. When trying to maintain a healthy weight, it is important that 90% of the food you are consuming is “good for you”. As I try to decide what to eat throughout the day, I follow a few select rules of thumb.
- attempt to eat things in the form that they were harvested from the earth. Eat as similar to a caveman as you can. (Try to stay away from processed bars, crackers, cereals, and most breads)
- try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, aim for many colors (more color variance means more micronutrients covered)
- attempt to get each macronutrient group into each meal (a portion of protein, carbs, and fats)
Another important thing to keep mind of is that the food you put in your body is essentially energy. How your body metabolizes things determines how much energy you will use, and how much you will store as fat. Certain things, such as simple carbohydrates are easily metabolized, and cause your blood sugar levels to quickly rise and fall. Your body uses what sugar it can for energy, but it stores the excess as fat. Examples of simple carbohydrates are most breads, candy, certain fruits that are low in fiber, and deserts. Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes, long grain rice, and certain fruits such as raspberries are digested much slower. Due to the slower digestion, your blood sugar maintains a steady level and your body can use most of the carbohydrates you consume.
When it comes to fat, you want to avoid the saturated stuff. Fatty meat, certain cheese’s, and fried food are the prime culprits of saturated fat. Unsaturated fat is actually very beneficial to the body on a cellular level. It comes into play with regulating hormones, and many other bodily functions.
Protein is essential for so many bodily functions, and is crucial for everyone, especially those who are active. Exercising breaks down your muscles & tissues, but protein helps to build them back up.
The last thing I believe that we should be mindful of is portion control. By eating 3 moderately portioned meals, and small snacks in between, you keep your blood sugar elevated at a steady rate, avoiding excess energy being stored as fat. If you are familiar with what your portions should look like, and how much you should eat in a day, snacking every couple hours instead of meals is even better. Personally, I eat 4-5 small meals a day, keeping my blood sugar levels steady.
Knowing what your portions should look like is important. A healthy meal can become unhealthy if you eat too much of it, due to the spike in blood sugar it would cause.
Here are some examples of smart portion sizes:
Now, I could go on and on about what rules and regulations you could follow, but none of that means jack if you don’t know what healthy foods you actually like.
Here’s a list of a few healthy foods that can be incorporated into your meals.
Breakfast food recommendations:
organic plant based protein powder
Fruits (especially low net carb fruits such as raspberries and blackberries [net carb= carbohydrates-fiber content. More fiber= less sugar being stored as fat on your body]
Vegetables (if you can palate them in the morning)
oatmeal (On occasion. I’m not a fan because it’s still a grain, but it’s better than pop tarts, or bread)
oils (cook eggs in) such as coconut, olive, and avocado oil
cheese (on occasion, if you must. Dairy causes alot of inflammation and bloating in most people)
*I will often make smoothies in the morning with fruit, spinach, plant based protein, and some sort of nuts to incorporate each macronutrient group
Balanced Lunch/Dinner recommendations:
made with ground turkey instead of beef
Instead of shells use low net carb tortillas (flat-out, tumaros, and la tortilla factory all have good ones) or make taco bowls on a bed of lettuce with long grain rice (long grain takes longer to digest)
& most taco toppings are healthy (tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, moderate cheese, avocado/guacamole, moderate sour cream)
-Lean Chicken breast/Tofu with long grain rice/potatoes & vegetables: Cook chicken & vegetables in healthy oils, and rice just needs water
-Salads with each macronutrient group (fat, protein, and carbs)
-Healthy Chicken “friend” rice:
Pre cook long grain rice, chicken, and veggies of your choice (cut into small pieces). Combine all in a pan with moderate soy sauce, crack a couple eggs in it, and your golden. (High in sodium, but it’s fine if you’re not eating this every day)
-Healthy “Flat out” pizza:
Pre bake flat outs in the oven for 2 minutes @ 375
& then cook with toppings an additional 4 minutes
Recommended toppings: organic pizza sauce, feta or mozzarella cheese, precooked chicken in leu of pepperoni’s (less saturated fat, but its not the end of the world if you use pepperoni’s) and all of the veggies your heart desires. I like mushrooms and spinach.
I will be posting many other recipes for balanced meals/snacks. Hopefully this will get you started if you are making a lifestyle transition, or provide you with some new knowledge if already amidst a balanced life.
In summary, be mindful of each item you put into your body. How will it affect your energy levels? Are you eating a lot of processed foods? Do your meals have each macronutrient group? Are you getting your micronutrients? Are you indulging too much? Personally, I don’t refuse a donut unless offered one more than once a week. But I eat well 90% of the time. What works for you? It’s a learning process. It never ends. Let’s figure it out together.
Peace out friends. Keep a look out for my next post on keeping up with your wellness while on a busy schedule.