I’ve been trying to prioritize what to teach my followers lately. THINK big issues, I’ve been telling myself. What do you hear often?? What is everyone asking you??
A question that comes up almost daily with my patients, family, co-workers, friends, new acquaintances, Instagram followers, basically EVERYONE… is: How can I eat healthier? While it appears like the answer to this question should be easy, surprise! It is actually pretty complicated.
What makes nutrition complicated:
- Everyone is different!
- Which means, everyone has different goals.
- Healthy can be anything from establishing a healthy relationship with food to seeing improvement in your cholesterol levels.
- Everyone doesn’t love vegetables.
- Nutrition preferences (lacto-ovo-vegetarian, lactose intolerance, vegan, carnivore, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, I eat burgers sometimes-vegetarian)
- Nutrition proficiency. (Think: if you only had a high-school level of education, would you understand what an antioxidant or a triglyceride is?)
- Past medical history. (Diabetic diet versus GERD, or acid reflux diet)
- Culture, socioeconomic status, stress, mental illness, medication interactions/side effects, death/grief, financial situation, support, injury, allergies…
- You don’t fail the diet, the diet fails you.
- GUYS… this list can go on forever and ever and ever. Get my drift?
“Healthy eating” is not a one size fits all kind of thing. Nutrition is never a one size fits all kind of thing BUT, there are some general guidelines that can be beneficial for everyone to learn.
With the recent nutrition hype I’ve been seeing via social media (aka if you aren’t putting butter in your coffee or eating paleo, you’re unhealthy), I feel like empathy has kind of decreased in importance lately. It is important to understand everyone is trying to manage the same thing (nutrition), with very, very different experiences. Don’t judge the girl drinking the unicorn frap, think about the unhealthy relationship you may have with sugar that is causing you to have those thoughts! All foods fit and establishing that foundation of thought can be beneficial when we’re talking about long term nutrition goals. Removing cake from your diet for the rest of your life, just doees not work my friend. If you don’t LIKE cake, that’s a different story. But for the majority of you, eat your cake, and try to follow the following guidelines as much as possible!
- EAT REAL FOOD!
- Do I even have to explain?
- Create meal regularity.
- 3 meals, 1-2 snacks daily
- Follow the “plate method” to create an easy meal.
- 1/2 of your plate vegetables/fruit
- 1/4 whole grains or complex carbs
- 1/4 lean proteins
- Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables.
- Try to fill half your plate with colorful vegetables, as often as possible! These include: greens, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, okra, onion, radish, asparagus, brussels sprouts, etc!
- 2-3 servings of fruit per day.
- Fruit is VERY beneficial, because of vitamins/minerals/antioxidants/fiber components, however we don’t want to over consume fruit! Everything in moderation.
- What is a serving? 1/2-1 banana, 1/2 grapefruit, 5-6 strawberries, 1 cup of berries, 1 small apple/orange, 2 clementines, 15 large grapes.
- Increase your intake of whole grains or complex carbohydrates.
- Whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, millet, and bulgur; bread, rolls, and pasta made from whole grains; brown or wild rice; hot or cold cereals made from whole grains and without added sugar;sweet potatoes.
- Protein, in moderation. Most Americans over consume protein!
- Choose lean meat, mostly fish, eggs, poultry and vegetable sources including beans and legumes, peas, tofu, unsalted nuts or nut butter, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat intake!
- Found in baked goods, fast-food, fried foods.
- Choose olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil when cooking or for salad dressings.
- Sugar, in moderation!
- Restricting any type of food, will make your body crave it. Healthy people, eat sugar!
- Watch out for “added sugars”: try to avoid foods with more than 7 grams of added sugars. Natural sugars, are not considered “added!” Example an apple (natural sugar) versus candy (added sugar).
- BUT! Eat the damn cookie, cake, or ice-cream if its for the right reasons.
- Be mindful of why your body is craving something sweet. If you are craving a doughnut because of an emotional reason, try to grab a more balanced snack, go for a walk, journal, blog, call your mom (always with me, sorry Lynn)!
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, consult your doctor about seeing a Registered Dietitian for an individualized, hands on approach to nutrition. Or, shoot me an email about seeing me for remote nutrition counseling.
I’m on a mission to end the struggle that comes with conquering nutrition. I want you to feel satisfied, never guilty or judged. Now, excuse me while I go eat my (daily) piece of dark chocolate!