7 Simple Nutritional Keys of success
“What am I supposed to eat?” “How come this is not ‘healthy’ for me anymore and it was all the rage last year?” “Should I do intermittent fasting or grazing?” “Which is best – Keto, Vegan, or the sourdough-bread-Covid diet?”
I get it! It’s confusing out there! There are so many different diets, fads, and conflicting advice as far as what is good for you, what will help you to lose weight, and what you must eat and not eat. The excess of information can be overwhelming. Our food choices are highly personal. They can be based on preference, culture, tradition, our values, and even our beliefs. Different people can be feel better or worse when they eat certain foods. The science is still out on why that is. There are a few different plans designed to customize the best dietary choices for you as a unique person. These various plans justify an individual versus a “one-size-fits-all” eating plan. They are based on specific elements such as: your blood type; your dominant gland; your body type (endo-, ecto-, or meso-morph); what part of the world your ancestors came from; and countless more. In spite of all of these variations, it remains unclear as to why some ways of eating work the best for some people and why other types of eating work best for other people. Food preferences and debates will always be a hot topic.
However, if you are looking for a few ideas to increase your nutritional health, here are seven simple keys:
1. BRING ON THE VEGGIES! - Colour & Variety
One thing I’ve never heard about any program – whether your eating preference is paleo, vegan, Atkins, Keto, Mediterranean, Noom, DASH, Weight Watchers, or anything else – is that we all need to cut back on our vegetables. Nope, I’ve never heard that one. Why are veggies and most fruits a clear winner in every category all the time? They are usually low calorie while still filling (due to their fiber content). They are not processed, and they are packed with anti-oxidants and micro-nutrients that help our bodies to work better in countless ways. We can all use more veggies in our daily noshing and the more colour and variety in our veggies the better!
Nowadays, there are so many creative ways to enjoy veggies. You can spiralize most types of squashes to have your “pasta”, or substitute rice with cauliflower. You can substitute avocados or applesauce for most types of oils, use lettuce as your burger bun, have a cauliflower pizza crust, or use portabellas for your burgers. You don’t necessarily have to go meat-less or wheat-less to add in more healthy vegetables to your daily eating. It’s pretty easy to throw some peppers into your scrambled eggs, add some spinach to your smoothie, fire-up some veggies on the barbie, or dress them in hummus. Grilled, raw, stir-fried, steamed, roasted, sautéed, or dipped are just a few ways to enjoy your veggies and to increase your health.
2. CHOOSE YOUR LEAN PROTEINS
What type of protein you eat can be a subject of much debate. However, most everyone is aware of the fact that protein is important. Protein is an essential nutrient to keep your body functioning at optimal levels. Essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) create tissue growth, energy production, increase your immunity and nutrient absorption. Proteins are part of every cell in your body and are needed to build and repair your muscles, tissues, skin, nails and hair. Protein also helps build hormones and enzymes. Eating protein can also help you lose weight and belly fat, while helping increase your muscle mass and strength. A diet that has quality protein may also help lower blood pressure, and fight diabetes.
Below are a few examples of excellent proteins:
Very high in protein: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu
Moderate to high in protein: cottage cheese, milk, cheese, yogurt
Moderate protein: lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, kidney beans, kefir, nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed butters,
Some protein: Quinoa, barley, oats, brussels sprouts, broccoli
3. EAT YOUR HEALTHY FATS
Yes! There are good fats out there! “Bad” fats, (such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats), are guilty of adding to weight gain, clogging arteries, and increasing your risk for certain diseases. “Good” fats such as unsaturated fats (poly and mono), are loaded with omega-3s and will definitely increase your nutritional health. In fact, these healthy fats reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. They ease arthritis, joint pain, and inflammatory skin conditions. Research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3s may help to prevent and reduce symptoms of depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder while also protecting against memory loss and dementia. These essential fats help you to feel full, stay slim, stabilize your blood sugars, and allow your brain to work better.
Healthy fats that are loaded with Omega 3’s include: avocados, olive oil, seeds, nuts, and fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
4. O’ NATURALE - Less packaged / processed foods
Keep it simple! The less processed the food, the less preservatives, additives, etc., the better it is for you. Avoid the packaged and processed foods whenever possible. When you do have to buy a packaged food, choose ones with the fewest ingredients and ones that actually sound like a food. There are so many choices out there now! For example, when choosing a peanut butter, you can get the kind with only peanuts, or peanuts and sea salt. You can ditch the hydrogenated oils, added sugars, corn maltodextrin and all of those lovely things you cannot pronounce and don’t know what the heck they are. When you keep your way of eating simple, natural, and actually eat real food, you will feel better and be healthier.
5. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Drinking water has countless benefits! It lowers your blood pressure, generates more oxygen in your body, increases immunity, elevates your moods, and detoxifies the body.
Water helps our brains and bodies to work better and can give you an energy boost. It can also fills you up and take the edge off of the gnawing feeling in your stomach. Many times when we are hungry we can simply be dehydrated. Water also helps to remove the fat by-products in your system and can increase your metabolism.
6. KEEP HANGRY AWAY!
I don’t know about you but when I get to the point where I’m hangry (hungry and angry), it’s not a pretty sight! I feel bad for anyone who happens to be in the way! When you get to this point of being shaky and frenzied, your blood sugar levels are low. This is usually when we make bad choices. You need something fast and you will take whatever you can get! This is often when we overeat. It does take about twenty minutes for your body to register that you are full. When you are hangry, you can do a lot of damage before your brain kicks in to tell you that you don’t need any more food. To avoid hangry, stay away from foods that cause blood sugar spikes and crashes (white sugar and white flour products) and choose those that stabilize your blood sugars (these foods are lower on the glycemic index – such as vegetables, some fruits, proteins and whole grains). Be prepared to eat regularly or have snacks on hand and keep the hangry away!
7. LOCKED, LOADED, AND READY TO GO!
Planning ahead and having healthy food convenient and on hand, greatly increases your chances of success and well … actually eating healthy. If chips and cookies are the most accessible food on hand, and the fruit is all the way over at the store, you are setting yourself up to eat chips and cookies. When you’re in a time crunch at work, chances are you’ve either packed something healthy that is on hand and ready to eat, or you’re going to get something quick at Timmies or some other drive-thru. Arm yourself with healthy choices by preparing your meals and snacks ahead of time. Prepare enough healthy foods to have leftovers for the next day or two for lunch. Have fruits, veggies, nuts, and other snacks accessible for when you need something. When you are prepared with healthy choices, it becomes more automatic to eat healthy.
These are a few simple ways to increase your nutrition and to set yourself for a successful, healthier lifestyle of eating.