You may not be a nutritionist or a dietitian, but I can guess you have an idea of what to eat, or at least you know it’s a good thing to eat real food, that has not been processed (high quality meat/seafood, vegetables (lots!!), fruit, nuts/seeds and healthy fats). Yes? Then what may be holding you back on reaching your current health goal?
Consistently I see a need with my patient population for advice on how to execute the best steps to eating well. In today’s post, I have listed some of my tips to get over this hurdle.
- Plan – you’ve likely seen me write this or say this, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” What is your goal and what areas of your day need most attention facilitating better food choices? Evenings – perhaps eating too much in the latter half of the day? Lunch – running to wherever and eating whatever because you fight the time to even go to the bathroom? Or mornings – not fueling with a protein-rich meal before kicking off your day? Assess what can change, and think of SMALL steps that can lead to change.
- Meals – on average we eat the same 8-15 foods week after week. And I want to make a few points out of this tip, 1) don’t stress over eating similar things for a week straight, yet, make an effort to rotate in different foods each time you grocery shop, and 2) keep meals simple. Part of executing a plan of gaining health, needs to be easy, efficient and enjoyable. Think of meals that are based on whole food, which you enjoy, and how you can make them work for your schedule. A few examples – this summer we are traveling nearly every week until October. This itself can derail my health, but I’ve embraced the challenge. For road trips I will freeze a protein smoothie the night before, and enjoy it the following day for lunch. When my husband is traveling for work (which is also often) I know my go-to meal to make for my son and I. I pull out 2 vacuum-sealed pieces of white fish the night before I want it for dinner, and either cook it in a skillet with some coconut oil, lemon, cayenne pepper and cilantro or use my grill pan. I always have some sort of vegetable prepped in the fridge as well. I do this vegetable task while making a different meal, for example breakfast on Mondays. If the vegetable requires cooking, I will either chop some cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc), onion and garlic and roast a large batch to have readily available for other meals during the week. Or when chopping my son’s afternoon snack, I also multi-task and chop some raw celery, carrot, bell pepper, etc, to have handy when I need something quick to stave off hunger while prepping a meal. And lastly, but not least, you can never go wrong making something in bulk (freezing portions for later) in a slow-cooker.
- Grocery list – how do you know what you need when grocery shopping? Do you stroll and decide while shopping? Do you keep a tablet in your kitchen and update it when something comes to mind? Whatever you do, practice something that is efficient. I often use my Notes on my iPhone and just note what I need for certain stores. I usually always have a running list for Costco and Trader Joe’s and as I shop I delete the item as I put in the cart. (I am known to use my list and still forget things).
- Snacks – unless you are very active or growing, snacks are not all that needed, especially not needed between every meal, every day. If you find you are hungry 1-3 hours after eating a meal, you need more food at those meals, and often protein or fat is skimped. Our meals should hold us over for ~4 hours. Reducing the number of times we eat (aka not grazing every 2 hours) allows our body’s to tap into fat stores and gives our digestion a break, focusing on other needed bodily processes. One appropriate place I foresee, in general, a client needing to plan a snack, is in the afternoon when they are eating lunch around the noon hour and not getting home for dinner until 7pm or later. In this window, I advise a snack that is real food (of course) and has some protein and fat, such as nuts and a bag of raw vegetables, or deli meat (Applegate) and small serving of fruit.
- Hydrate – we wake up dehydrated and by the time we are thirsty any other time during the day, it is a sign of a deficit. We want to hydrate upon wakening and throughout the day. One example, which can help with meeting a hydration goal is always having a water bottle near and setting a small to-do to drink a full bottle by a certain time of the day. I like the bottles that have a straw at the top. Call me lazy, but when I don’t have to screw off the top of a bottle every time I want to drink, I end up drinking on average a lot more throughout the day.
- Breath – take the time to step back, take a few deep breaths every day. With this time reiterate what you want to make of the day and for your goal. Just writing your goal down, can help you stay on your game on making the right choices.
- Building your plate – even if you are eating low carb, for optimal health, a plate needs to be balanced. I will let the below image explain this tip.
So easily, I can extend this list, but use this as a start and let me know if you need support along the way.
Cheers to you and good health,