5 secrets to making healthy choices a little easier.
Believe it or not, eating a nutritious diet doesn’t have to be difficult. If you allow yourself to get sucked down the rabbit hole of internet nutrition “experts”, it’s easy to become confused. One guy says eat more meat and no grains, the next says cut out all meat and eat only plants, and yet another says cut out all gluten, dairy, and anything that tastes good. They all have some sort of scientific data to back up what they’re selling, but they can’t all be right, so what do you do? Trust me, I’ve been down that rabbit hole and felt the frustration of trying to sort through all of the conflicting information. In fact, my journey down that hole is what led me to become a dietitian. The truth is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be a mind-numbing effort. Here are a few tips to get started:
- All foods have a place in a healthy diet. With the exception of food allergies/intolerances, any foods you enjoy can and should have a place in your diet. The key is eating plenty of the foods that provide necessary nutrients and sticking to the rule of moderation when it comes to sweets and fried or fatty foods. If you think you might have an intolerance to a certain food, such as gluten or lactose, check with your doctor. Sometimes the cause of your discomfort might not be what you think it is, and if you don’t have to entirely cut out foods that you enjoy, well, that’s always a good thing!
- Eat a wide variety of produce. I won’t lie and tell you that you don’t have to eat your vegetables. You should definitely eat plenty of vegetables, and fruits for that matter, but they don’t have to be green. I’ve learned from working with my clients that even the pickiest, most die-hard anti-veggie people have at least a few vegetables they can enjoy in some form or another, so get creative and think outside the green box. The more colors you eat, the more nutrients you get, and mixing them in with other foods like a sauce or casserole doesn’t decrease their value.
- Go whole! Grains, that is. Try to make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, and quinoa. The whole grain has fiber and vitamins and minerals not found in the processed grains.
- Choose lean proteins. By that, I don’t mean eat chicken breast at every meal. Other great options include low fat meats like turkey, lean beef, and pork chops as well as fish/seafood, eggs, dairy, beans & lentils, nuts & seeds, soy, quinoa, and more. Regardless of whether you’re omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan…whatever your dietary choices may be there are so many great options for protein.
- Drink lots of water. I am going to sound like a broken record with this one, but hydration is key to keeping every part of your body functioning properly. Also, if you are increasing fiber intake, be sure to also increase that water in order to avoid bloating, discomfort, and constipation.
There really is no one-size-fits-all plan for healthy eating. We all need a balance of fruits/veggies, proteins, fats, and carbs, but the specific balance is based on your goals and activity level. The specific foods are dictated by what works for you! If you need help figuring out your specific needs, a dietitian can help.