Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest food trends, and all the nutritional noise out there can leave you feeling overwhelmed. When it comes down to it, healthy living is not that difficult. It about the basics:
1. Eat something small within 30 minutes of getting up. This gets your metabolism going for the day. A few bites of fruit or a yogurt are perfect.
2. Eat breakfast. A mix of whole grains and protein is ideal, for example a boiled egg with whole grain toast and fruit or plain oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts.
3. Have snacks between meals that are 150 to 250 calories. A combination of protein and fiber or whole grains is ideal to keep you satisfied until your next meal. Examples include an apple with one tablespoon of natural peanut butter or half a cup of Greek yogurt, raw veggies with two tablespoons of hummus, a handful of almonds and dried apricots.
4. Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a peasant for dinner. Your biggest meal of the day should be breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner. You should feel hungry for dinner, but not starving. You will sleep better if you eat a small dinner, and stop eating after 8 p.m., as your body won’t be digesting tons of food while you’re trying to sleep.
5. Drink water throughout the day. Eight glasses per day is ideal.
6. Switch up your processed white carbs for whole grains and healthy carbs. Examples include brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat or brown rice pasta, wheatberries, sweet potatoes and squash. Whole grains are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and keep you feeling full longer.
7. Limit your intake of white sugar and carbs, trans fats, greasy, deep-fried and fast foods, caffeine, pop (regular or diet), artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and processed foods (processed cheese, margarine, cold cuts).
8. Eat fruits and vegetables (organic when possible) throughout the day. For example, eat salad or raw veggies daily with lunch, steamed and/or raw veggies every night with dinner, fruit with breakfast and for snacks.
9. Re-evaluate your plate: half should be vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and the other quarter lean protein.
10. Eat lean protein (fish, eggs, poultry) and legumes the majority of the time and limit your consumption of red meat to one time per week.
11. Eat slowly, and listen to your body. Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Unfinished dinner makes great leftovers for lunch, and keeps you from overeating.
12. Eat healthy fats: avocado, nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, flax, sunflower), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, flax oil, butter (in moderation).
13. Exercise: raise your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
In a nutshell, your diet (90% of the time) should include: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean protein, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, fish, and lots of water.
If you know there’s room for improvement in your diet, then take one or two of my rules, and try to follow them for the next two weeks. Once they’ve become part of your routine, add another one, then another one, until you wake up one morning and realize all the little changes have added up to a new healthy lifestyle.