Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere! And everyone has their Own Opinion! It is no wonder people are confused about what, and how, they should eat.
Each camp of eating modalities are also fervent that their plan, Paleo, Vegan, Plant Based, Keto, etc., is the best for YOU.
But I know that each person is unique, however there are some commonalities….
Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and evidenced based) benefits of the quality of food you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work, it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we?
I mean if you eat 400 calories of vegetables and lean protein, or 400 calories of candy bars, well the outcome just will not be the same!
I am not telling you not to count your calories, carbs, and fat, however, don't forget to also pay attention to the quality of the calories you eat.
Ideally, you need a diet full of colorful whole foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of organic fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Lean organic, free range, grass fed, Protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones, and brain, as well as, to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Good choices are virgin olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and coconut oil. Also eat your organic egg yolks, wild caught salmon, avocados, and grass-fed meats when possible. You don't need to overdo it here. Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.
The quality of the food you eat is as important as how much you eat. So focus on local, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as quinoa, rice, and rye, and organic, sustainably, and humanely raised animal protein.
If you find it hard to afford all organic foods, use this guide provided by the Environmental Working Group to determine which vegetables are Most Important to buy organic when possible. Go to your local farmers market for your eggs and meats, and seek out local farms.
Be more Mindful about you meals
You want me to meditate while I eat? No, that is not what I have in mind, but I do want you to pay more attention to your meal.
Do you often eat your meal at your computer, in front of the TV or while on your phone? Do you finish your meal in 10 minutes or less and hardly remember eating?
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact on our health than we previously thought.
When you are rushed, you are not properly chewing your food, and you do not digest your food properly, which causes downstream health problems.
So what is mindful eating?
Mindful eating simply means to unplug, step away from your computer, desk at work, TV, and take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
Did you know that when you smell your food, and chew slowly, this gives your digestive system the signal to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and that makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
Mindful eating can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
And don't forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don't gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Calories in and calories out is not as accurate as we once thought. Quality is just as important as quantity. We need a rainbow of organic fruits and vegetables, lean sustainably raised animal protein, and organic whole grains. A great guide for portions, even if you are plant based, is the Healthy Eating Plate.
Slow down and enjoy your meal. Take a moment and smell the food to get your digestive juices flowing. Remember it takes 20 minutes for the signal that you are full to reach your brain. When you eat your meal within 10 minutes or less, don't unplug and pay attention to your food, skip smelling, chewing and priming your body for release of enzymes, you set yourself up for poor digestion, gaining weight, and increasing your risk of dis-ease.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 chopped peach
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.