Whether you are reading this in September as the kids are all heading back to school or in January when y’all are looking for some New Years resolutions, I’ve gathered some tips and trick for you guys to get back on track with your eating. Most of these are common sense (in which case, just let it trigger your memory) but some may be new news to you! Take a peek below and let me know what resonates with you!
Eat what your body wants
Sometimes, your body really wants a big, leafy green salad. That’s usually your body knowing what it needs. We are just so busy that we don’t take the time to listen. If you do listen, you’ll know when you need a tall glass of water and when you need a chocolate chip cookie!
Eat when your body wants
Nobody said that breakfast has to be eaten at 7am. If your body likes to have a coffee when you wake up (extra points if you down a cup of warm lemon water with your “cup o’ jo”) and just can’t process solid food until 9, then you do you! Eat when your body tells you. This is actually the beginning of eating mindfully. We will talk a bit more about the importance of breakfast and mindful eating later in this post!
Snack on (mostly) healthy treats
We all snack (well, most of us do) so we just have to be smarter about what we are grabbing. Make sure your crisper drawer is full of fresh fruits and veggies, and that your pantry has some healthy options like nuts (find the recipe for these healthy, zero-waste almonds here) or plain popcorn.
Include healthy fats in your diet
For those of you that were born before 1970, you’ll know that there was a time in the 70’s that fat was very taboo when we spoke about healthy eating. Now we know that healthy fats (albeit, not in abundance) do have a place in our diets. The fats you should have around are olive oil, healthy mild oil (preferably canola, avocado or grapeseed) and virgin coconut oil (high in medium chain triglycerides). Also, foods like avocado can also keep you satiated longer because of it’s high (good) fat content! Try these tuna poke bowls with a healthy dose of avocado!!
Eat protein at every meal
We all know (and if you don’t, you will now) that protein helps keep you full longer. Yes high protein foods have more calories, but those are good calories because they will stop you from eating empty calories later on. This lemon chicken recipe will keep you full for a long time but also remember that it may also mean that you just slather some peanut butter on your morning toast instead of sugary jam!
Drink more water (or just have more watery foods)
Humans are basically made up of mainly water (we are kinda like cucumbers with anxiety ;)) so we need to make sure we keep balanced by drinking water. How many glasses you ask? Well, the count we all hear is 8 glass and that’s a good yardstick measure but the real measure is the colour of your urine (sorry…TMI)…the more clear it is, the closer you are to being well hydrated! And remember, some of us who eat ‘watery’ food (think soup and watermelon) may not need as much water. And herbal teas count towards you daily count. If you’d like to find some cool ways to drink more water, take a peek here and here!
Eat a variety of veggies
We all know that veggies are good for you, right? I mean, even Weight Watchers says most non-starchy veggies are ‘free food’, meaning you can eat as many as you like. So, stock your fridge with lots of veggies that you like. Just remember two things; 1) that leafy greens are superfoods (did you know you can get your calcium requirements from collard greens, kale, spinach, etc?), 2) the more colourful the food, the higher the nutrition!! Having trouble downing some leafy greens? Why not try making a batch of kale chips? They are crispy and healthy and waaaay cheaper than the store bought kind!! Find the recipe here!!
Adopt a Michael Pollan mindset
If you don’t know Michael Pollan, you need to read up on him! I went to see him when he came to Toronto because I think he has the most sensible outlook on what/how to eat to live a long, healthy life.
His book “In Defence of Food” is one of my favourites on the subject. It’s logical and straight to the point! The basic outline is:
1. Eat “food” – not the frankenfood that has been created by some of these large corporations.
2. Eat less of it – one of the reasons for the obesity epidemic is because portions have become so large, particularly in North America
3. Eat mainly plants – he is not vegetarian, but believes we need to consume more plant products and “real” food, as well as eat the best (ethically raised and sustainable) meat/poultry/fish you can afford.
Eat according to your body’s requirements
If you are a young adult, you still need your calcium requirements so the amount of foods you consume should be more calcium heavy than, say, that of a 75 year old woman. Also, if you become more aware of your body, you’ll start realizing that your body gives you cues as to what it needs (parched? drink water…sore? have magnesium rich foods…tired? have foods with tryptophan which will help you drift more easily to sleep).
A big part of making good choices is stopping in your tracks when you think you may be making the wrong choice in terms of what you should put in your body. Just ask yourself if you truly are hungry (versus eating because you are bored/anxious/angry/lonely) and if you are truly hungry, ask yourself what you really want. And if the answer is a cookie, then go ahead and have it!!
Watch your portions
My biggest problem (aside from emotional eating) is portion control. A proper portion of chicken is the size of a deck of cards and an ounce of cheese is just slightly larger than the tip of your thumb. And you really don’t want to know how big (or small) a serving of pasta is. Once you get used to the proper portion size, you’ll start filling in the difference with ‘free food’ (#GiveMeAllTheVeg)
Breakfast is important because you are ‘breaking the fast’ … unless you are a midnight fridge raider (and if you are, please stop right now!), your body has been fasting all night. And, although studies have shown that it is good to give your organs a ‘break’ by not having food in your system for a bit (aka fasting), it’s best to fast while you’re sleeping (because, what else are you going to do, right?). But, that doesn’t mean that you need to eat breakfast at 6am. I like to have something warm to drink when I wake up and then after my morning walk, I eat a healthy breakfast. If it’s hard because mornings are rushed, make a batch of my oatmeal packs and put a few in your bag for hunger emergencies!!
Try to adopt the Mediterranean diet
Just like Michael Pollan (above) suggested, this is mainly about getting in all the goodness our land has to offer. Imagine living on the coast of Greece (or a fishing village in southern Italy)…what would your diet look like? Probably lots of veggies, some glorious fish, maybe some homemade bread, the odd treat (maybe a gelato at a local café in the evening after a long stroll). Think like that and live that life (as closely as you can…I mean, we don’t all have the luxury of living by the seaside but you get my drift, right?)
Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach
Guys, this isn’t rocket science. We all know what we have to do…so just do it. Getting ready to head out to get groceries and you are so hungry you could eat your own arm? Grab a banana, slice it down the middle, spread a spoonful of peanut butter inside and snack away as you head out. I promise you wont make as many bad choices!
Don’t drink your calories
Did you know some drinks at your fave coffee shop can have more calories than a slice of chocolate cake? Oh yes they do! Be smart and don’t drink your calories. Even fruit juice is high in sugar and calories. And remember, although diet drinks are calorie free, the sugar substitutes in soft drinks trick your body into believing sugar is coming … and when no “real” sugar comes, your body goes into a frenzy wanting to find that sugar (many people believe they create higher sugar cravings)… again, water is free and good for you!!
Get good sleep
I am just going to leave this to the professionals over at the Sleep Foundation:
“Without enough sleep, people tend to overeat and choose unhealthy foods. Sleep deprivation affects the body’s release of ghrelin and leptin, two neurotransmitters that tell our brain when to consume calories23. People who are sleep deprived are more drawn towards high-calorie foods24. Chronic sleep loss has been linked to having a larger waist circumference25, and an increased risk of obesity26“
Pack some food when you leave the house
If you want to avoid making a u-turn into McDonald’s drive through, make sure you grab a few snacks as you head out the door. And, always have some water with you because oftentimes, when we think we’re hungry, we just need a good swig of H2O!!
Be a label reader
Remember that when push comes to shove, big companies want you to buy their products so they will use all of their marketing savvy to lure you into their food lair! Read labels that may be misleading (light oil often refers to light in colour…it’s not false advertising because it is truly ‘lighter’ but that’s not what your brain thinks when it reads the label). I once saw a peanut butter yogurt that had no peanut butter in it…hmmmm! Once you start reading, you will begin to look out for calorie density, amount of sugar, fibre and protein…all good things we need to know!
Meal prep if you’re tempted to grab snacks
I did this post a few years back that shows you how I pack my fridge with goods that make decision making about meals and snacks way easier. Take a peek here is you guys need some new ideas (I promise there are some good ones here!!)
Enjoy those treats!!
And finally, we all need to treat ourselves so make sure you enjoy treats that make you happy. Just a few points to remember:
- Make sure you really do want that treat (and you’re not eating that last piece of pie because you don’t want to see it in the fridge anymore).
- If your idea of a treat is a small piece of dark chocolate everyday, then that’s awesome! But if your idea of a treat is a huge slice or cheesecake, have that piece at the end of the week (and if you’re being really mindful, you probably won’t want to finish the whole piece…most times, you just want the satisfaction of having a good taste of it!!)
- If you think you really do want that extra piece of pizza, make sure you are really focusing on how it feels as you’re eating it. If, halfway through, you feel as though you’ve had enough, stop eating (this is a hard one for me!!)
If you’ve gotten to the end of this post, thanks for sticking with me!!
And if you want more, I’ve also written this post which has some great recipe to get you re-organized in the kitchen as well as this post that speaks to the real way to eat healthy!