You are what you eat.
I’m positive we have all heard this phrase in our lifetime. But in all honesty, this is true. The food you eat, including both quality and quantity, directly affects the human body. Simply put, the food choices you make not only affect your health and how you feel today, but tomorrow and in the future.
Good nutrition is essential to achieving a healthy lifestyle, especially when combined with consistent physical activity. As mentioned in Health Living: The Problem, unhealthy eating has contributed to the obesity epidemic in America.
If you are on social media, Pinterest, or the internet in general I’m sure you have heard of various “diets” such as; counting your macros, ketogenic diets, low-carb diets, etc. That is not what this post is about. While yes, those specific diets work for people, they are complicated and take time to learn. This post is strictly about eating healthy foods, eating in moderation, and providing examples of healthy foods. Simple and easy, just like that.
Fruits & Veggies.
Eat them. Seriously. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at each meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are eating enough fruits & vegetables!
Fruits & veggies are packed full of nutrients, minerals, and fiber. (These are all good things!) The more colorful your meal is, the more micro-nutrients you will consume! It is recommended that a person should eat 2 servings of fruit and 2.5 servings of vegetables per day. Do you come close to these servings each day?
Leafy green veggies are the healthiest vegetables to eat; examples of said vegetables are romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and kale.
Tip: Mix veggies into your meals! Let’s be honest, this is easier .
- Use spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for pasta instead of noodles.
- Add spinach to your dishes, like pasta.
- Make an egg frittata with spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
- Cauliflower mashed “potatoes.”
- Add spinach and/or kale into fruit smoothies.
- Salads- be creative!
- Veggie fries! Try zucchini, carrots, avocado, or green beans and bake ’em.
- Take carrots, cucumbers, celery, peppers, etc on the go and dip in hummus or yogurt based dressings.
- Fruit smoothies.
- Frozen fruit with Greek yogurt and almond milk is my go-to. (Tip: use water or almond milk as the liquid in your smoothie, this will cut out all the unnecessary sugar added to fruit juices!) For an added health bonus, as mentioned above, try adding kale or spinach to the smoothie- trust me, you cannot even taste it.
- Apples. Cut up an apple, toss is in a Ziplock back with some lemon juice to keep it fresh, and take it to work or school for a healthy snack!
- For an added bonus, sprinkle your apple slices with Stevia and cinnamon! OMG. You will thank me for this.
- Slice up fresh fruit and add to yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.
- Keep a bowel of fresh fruit out and readily accessible for a quick and easy snack!
- Add fruit to a salad! Strawberries, apples, and pears are quite delicious toppings on salads.
Drink it. Enough said.
No, but seriously water is vital to survival. It is a physiological need.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration. It has even been said that hydration directly affects one’s energy levels. H2O also increased physical performance by- you guessed it- keeping you hydrated.
- Keeps you regular! Because honestly, no one enjoys being constipated.
- Healthy skin and a clear complexion.
- Helps prevent hangovers- oh, come one we’ve all been there before.
It is hard to drink water all day, I know. This is why it is important to be creative with the way you drink water!
- Add fresh fruit and/or mint to your water.
- Drink sparkling water.
- La Croix, Perrier, etc.
- Add a drop of Mio to your water.
Choose water over sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, juices, and sports drinks. Your body will thank you! Not only will you forgo the empty calories and added sugars, you can save your carbs for food that will actually fill you up.
Make water a staple of your meals and snacks. Water helps to make you feel full and satisfied, this can help you with over eating.
- Eat lean meats! Such as chicken breast, turkey breast, seafood, and leaner cuts of meat that is labeled 90% lean or higher.
- Seafood is full of protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Some of my favorites: shrimp, salmon, Chilean sea bass, and Ahi tuna.
- Bake or grill your meat instead of frying it.
- Protein powders are a great way to meet your protein goals!
- Recommendations: Ump Cookies & Cream, Isopure protein, & Quest protein powder.
- Protein bars make for great, healthy snacks.
- Recommendations: Power Crunch bars (all flavors are fantastic & they taste like cookies!), Think Thin Bars, and Quest Bars.
- Who doesn’t love eggs? Whether you desire a lean option, egg whites, or the whole egg, so many meals can utilize eggs as a source of protein!
- Example: omelets, egg white scramble, wraps, sandwiches, and so much more.
- Beef Jerky.
- Delicious, simple, and easy to eat on the go!
- Greek yogurt.
- Delicious and a great source of protein.
- My favorite? Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt. (Check out the Toasted Marshmallow- heavenly!)
- For those who do not consume animal products, in addition to protein bars and protein powder, nuts, beans, and seeds are all great sources of protein.
I love me some carbs- don’t we all?! Do not cut carbohydrates out of your diet to be healthy. Carbs are brain food– literally, your body and brain need carbohydrates for energy.
Side note: Carbs do not only mean grains; fruits and vegetables are also carbs!
It is recommended that half of the grains a person consumes per day should be whole grains, and not refined grains.
Examples of healthy carbs to incorporate into your diet:
- Oatmeal/ rolled oats
- Sweet potatoes
- Red potatoes
- Brown Rice
- Whole grain/ wheat bread
- Popcorn- score!
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat tortillas
- And of course, do not forget your vegetables and fruit! (I’m sure I sound like a broken record.)
General tips for a healthy diet.
- Be mindful of portion sizes and what you are eating.
- I recommend investing in a food scale.
- Eat slow.
- Be prepared.
- By meal prepping and having healthy snacks on hand, this will make a HUGE difference in your lifestyle and what you are eating.
- Make wise decisions.
- Switch from whole milk to 1% or fat-free.
- Love french fries? Bake sweet potato fries at home.
- Switch from potato chips to Popped Chips, Pretzel Crisps, or rice cakes.
- Do not buy and stock your pantry with junk food.
- If you don’t buy it, and it isn’t readily available, guess what? You won’t eat it!
- Consume healthy snacks.
- As mentioned above, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, beef jerky, and protein bars make excellent snacks.
- Choose chicken & turkey over red meats.
- Stay away from fried foods.
- Avoid excessive intake of alcohol and sugary drinks.
- Choose healthy fats.
- Fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter, etc.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Avoid added, simple sugars.
Living a healthy lifestyle is all about moderation. Do not starve yourself or make yourself miserable trying to eat healthier. Be mindful and make healthy decisions! The littlest decisions can make a HUGE difference in your health. Do not sacrifice a night out with loved ones because you are eating healthy- make wise, and healthy decisions! Especially when out to eat. Eating healthy is honestly the toughest aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. It will take time, dedication, patience, and hard work. But I promise you, it is worth it! You will (slowly) be able to tell a difference if your mood, energy level, and your waist line! (Do not expect overnight change! I wish it was that simple.)
Stay tuned for the next post on Healthy Living.