How long have you been on your healthy eating journey? 6 months? 2 months? 1 week? Starting tomorrow? This post is to help you out in those first few days, weeks, and months so that you can stay on track. If you are an experienced "clean eater" why the heck are you reading this, didn't you read the title? Ha, just kidding hopefully you can even learn something too. The advice I want to share is something I wish someone would have told me when I first started out on my healthy eating journey, so hopefully you can relate.
Here are the 5 tips that I hope will help you stay on track and continue down a road of health, happiness and straight up awesomeness. Because we all know you can't be awesome unless you eat kale...
Tip #1: Spice is the Spice of a Healthy Life
Healthy food doesn't have to taste like you are chewing on styrofoam. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they are preparing healthier foods is forgetting the seasoning and spices. There is nothing wrong with a little salt and pepper in your diet.
Another key is stocking up on tons of dried spices, they last a long time and can add a ton of flavor. Some essentials in our pantry include: garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, parsley, cumin, tumeric, curry powder, paprika, ginger, tarragon, sage, thyme, rosemary, 5 spice, cayenne, and chili powder. I'm pretty heavy handed with these spices and herbs, most recipes out there get pretty shy with how much spice to add. My tip is to season, taste, then re-season!!!
Other flavor enhancers include fresh citrus and fresh herbs. We almost always have cilantro, lemon, and lime laying around. They are super cheap and will elevate the taste of a dish.
Tip #2: Don't Fear the Fat
Fat doesn't make you fat, just like blueberries don't make you blue! Fat has gotten a bad reputation. If you walk down any grocery store aisle you will find products that claim to low fat or no fat. It's a sad state when food manufacturers are well aware of the health benefits of fat but they simply market products this way because consumers have been brainwashed into thinking fat is bad. Usually when a package says low fat, it means high in sugar (or fake sugar) or high in chemicals. Avoid these products. Yes low fat foods usually have fewer calories but for every 1 gram of fat (9 calories/gram) that is removed they can add 2 grams of sugar (4 calories/gram) and still cut the total calories. Sugar is more likely to be stored as fat, raise cholesterol, raise blood sugar and cause inflammation than fat. Also I'm not a fan of counting calories. If you want to know why, check out our other blog post, Stop eating LESS and exercising MORE.
Another reason to eat fat: it's ESSENTIAL to helping your body function. You may have heard of essential fatty acids. Those are fats that your body can't produce and they NEED to be consumed in the food you eat. The key one here is Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in foods like salmon, sardines, shellfish, grass fed beef, walnuts, flax seed, and chia seeds. The goal would be to get your ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats below 4:1. The current American averages around 16:1. This means getting more of the Omega 3 rich foods and less of the processed oils that are found in nearly every packaged food item (soybean, canola, grapeseed, cottonseed, sunflower, corn).
Don't be afraid of saturated fat either, the science is now showing that saturated fat doesn't have the negative side effects once thought...as long as it is balanced with other healthy fats. The visual that people usually have is that if you eat butter, it will harden and coagulate in your arteries. Well by that same logic shouldn't bananas and carrots also harden when they enter your blood stream, I mean they were solid at one point too. Cooking with saturated fats is actually a lot healthier than using unsaturated fats due to the higher smoke point. The fat won't become oxidized and oxidation is the one of the leading causes of inflammation in the body.
Tip #3: Protein Doesn't Make you Big, it Makes You Lean
I have to be honest and say that this tip isn't really one that I was scared of when I first started eating healthy, but I DO see it from a lot of the women that I coach. I'm sorry to pick on the ladies, but eating 3 healthy servings (30 grams each) of protein a day will not make you look like a body builder. In order to get that "muscley" look, your job needs to become eating protein and lifting weights...not to mention the genetics you'd have to have lined up on your side. So if you are the 1/2 of 1/2% of people that those things all line up and you take my advice, I'm sorry.
For the rest of you: protein will help you maintain muscle mass which boosts your metabolism and your awesomeness. If you want a flat stomach, work on getting strong legs. Healthy servings of protein will also help keep you full longer. It digests slower than carbs and therefore won't trigger hunger hormones as quickly, which means less running for the donuts that your coworker brought into the office.
Tip #4: Be Adventurous
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again...and then try one more time. If you've been at this healthy eating for a bit, I'm sure you have had some terrible tasting "healthy" food. Or maybe the consistency was way off. If your first experience with broccoli was a terrible one, don't write off all broccoli. Try a different way to cook it!! Try it steamed, try roasting it, or sauteing it, or whatever. Try some new seasonings. I'm not just talking about broccoli, this goes for anything and everything too. Don't give up on foods if your first attempt wasn't a home run.
Also step outside your comfort zone and try some NEW foods. Try some chia seeds, or kale, or tempeh. Don't rule anything out because of what you've heard or read somewhere. Once you've given something a fair shake and you still don't like it, then it can go on your food blacklist.
Tip #5: Learn a Little Bit
I think this is REALLY important in sticking with your new diet. I use the word diet to focus in on the things you eat...not some calorie restrictive term that has been hijacked by magazine covers. I would credit my education in nutrition for getting me to give up certain foods and desiring to eat other foods. I mean once you know that hydrogenated oils have almost the exact chemical makeup as plastic, you will put down the margarine and go back to real butter. Once you learn that broccoli sprouts can actually cure and prevent you from getting cancer, you will find ways to add them to your daily diet.
If you want to find some quality nutrition advice, talk to some of your "nutrition friends" and ask them who they trust and follow. Don't ask just one either, there are a lot of viewpoints out there and it's good to get some info from a few sources. If you don't have any "nutrition friends", you can just follow us, and we will provide everything you ever need to know...or at least we'll try! Honestly though if you need some help navigating the nutritional world, we would love to help you find some quality resources that are out there. Just hit us up with an email or comment below.
I hope some of this stuff is new advice for you if you're just getting started on your new healthy lifestyle. Or maybe if you've been at it for a while, these are just some good reminders! My hope for you would be that you continue to learn and grow and become an influence to the people that are closest to you.
If you have other thoughts on what has helped keep you on track, we would love to hear what has helped you!!
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.