Making healthy food choices isn’t always easy, so here are some suggestions that I’ve compiled over the years!
First of all, eating healthy is not just a choice but a lifestyle.
It’s much easier to develop healthy eating habits when you have nutrition-packed foods in the fridge and in the kitchen cupboards. If it’s there, that’s all you’ll have and therefore, you WILL use it, and you WILL eat it.The same things goes for treats, the more there are, the more tempted you will be to eat that bag of chips or that chocolate bar.
So first of all, surround yourself with a healthy environment.
How do you do that?
In an ideal world you want to eliminate all foods that contain added sugars, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, high amounts of saturated fats*, added salts or high sodium contents and empty calories (meaning very little nutrients for the amount of calories being consumed. Ex: doughnuts) those are just a few! It’s hard to know what to watch out for but generally, if it contains things you can’t pronounce or that you don’t recognize steer clear! Also, if there’s a super long list of ingredients there’s bound to be something in that list that you wouldn’t want to eat.
However, this is not realistic. Especially if you live with others, you can’t change the way your whole family eats, but you can certainly make a difference! The more healthy eating becomes a habit for you, the more will power you will develop to resist temptations and the more you will crave what’s truly best for your body. If you keep track mentally of what you’ve had to eat, it insures that you have had a good balance of nutrients throughout the day. Proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and most importantly vegetables (which a lot of us don’t get enough of) are all foods you want to include in your meal plan. I also plan out my meals accordingly, so when I’m hungry I know exactly what to eat. Sometimes, thinking of a snack on the spot is fun too! You just have to make sure you know what you’re looking for. I’m not going to lie, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Just start with small gradual changes and eventually work your way up!
Here’s how I choose healthy meals and snacks:
1. I always include a fruit and/or vegetable in EVERY meal.
2. I always have a lean source of protein on my plate. It can be a bean brownie as a snack or a a piece of fish for dinner. Although, I usually only have poultry at dinner time, and beef once in a while.
3. As a source of whole grains, I eat a lot of oats, quinoa, and brown rice. I don’t often eat bread, or pasta but when I do, it has to be whole grain. My favorite is Stone mill Organic Chia bread. Usually, I like to incorporate a source of whole grains at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I eat 2-4 servings of whole grains per day.
4. Try not to put added salt on your food. It’s OK to cook with it, since our body does need some salt, but when you do, use a pinch or a dash here and there. A little goes a long way.
5. I have low-fat plain Greek yogurt most days with a 1/2 tsp of natural unpasteurized honey to sweeten it, or I add 1/3 of a mushed banana incorporated into the yogurt which adds a nice sweet taste as well. Greek yogurt contains important probiotics, bacterial cultures, and protein. That way, you get the best of both worlds!
A list of a few things I eat everyday:
-a wide variety of nuts (unsalted): cashews, almonds, walnuts and pistachios (with a little salt! My favorite are sweet chili) as well as all natural 100% peanuts Peanut Butter
-Ground flax seed and chia seeds- a ton of healthy fats! By the way, did you know your brain is the biggest consumer of fats? So feed it with healthy ones!
-Wheat bran- lots of fiber!
-cinnamon- I just love it! In yogurt too!
-Almond milk (unsweetened of course) – lots of calcium
As you apply these tips to your daily life, it will no longer be “rules to follow” but a way of thinking and you will develop your own ways of choosing what is healthiest for you! This is how it becomes a lifestyle.
Finally, in order for you not to go completely crazy… Allow yourself a treat meal once a weak. Have that Big Mac, cupcake, or pizza whatever it is you please. This will allow you to satisfy your cravings without feeling guilty because you know you deserved it!
One last thing, after you exercise, reward yourself with a fantastically delicious healthy meal (smoothies are my favorite) don’t compensate your hard work in the gym with french fries or mac n’ cheese because that cancels out everything you just did and defeats the purpose of exercise.
I hope these suggestions help you think more about what your putting into your body and as a result help you make better choices, feel better and look great!
* Please note: Not ALL saturated fats are bad for you, naturally occurring ones like in nuts, olive, red palm and coconut oils, as well as in seeds are fantastic for you! So DO NOT be afraid of FAT .