Nutrition and diet information is everywhere and each expert tries to lure you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you, right? Well, maybe…everyone has a different approach and there is no one-size-fits-all diet out there. This is the beauty of personalized nutrition, and that is the school of thought that I subscribe to.
We’ve lived with intense focus on how much we eat and while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” to optimal health. Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you put at the end of your fork and how you eat or drink it.
What you eat and drink
The old school philosophy of “calories in, calories out” (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out by research on other factors that are more important. Limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight short-term, but it is not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. It can lead to an unhealthy view of food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and can also lead to making questionable food choices with lots of empty calories. In my view, counting calories is no longer the best method for keeping track of how much food we eat because all calories are not equal. When we use food as information, we are more concerned about how nutrient dense a food is and not how many calories it contains. If we feed our bodies the right nutrients, ideally a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer pre-packaged, sugar loaded foods), it leads to homeostasis or balance. We naturally begin to lose weight, our energy increases, we are in an overall state of good health and wellness, and calorie-counting goes out the window because our bodies begin to automatically regulate how much food it needs.
So, what should we aim to put on our plates? Quality foods!
● A colorful array of vegetables at every meal should make up to 70% of your plate. We need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and these are easily acquired through vegetables and fruits (notice the order)
● Enough grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild caught protein (palm of your hand sized portion). Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism, yeah!)
● Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - we need them as building blocks for our hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from vegetables. Use extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil, organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. Please don’t fear fat, but do you consume only high-quality fats.
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink; studies are showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food? This concept is called “mindful eating”.
It means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This gives the digestive system the green light to prepare for digestion and to secrete the necessary enzymes to break down the food, extract nutrients, and get rid of the rest. As a bonus, mindful eating can lead to 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? Take it easy, your digestive system will thank you for it!
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!) 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 (when you add in fats and protein.) And don't load it up with too many sweet fruits and 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. Check out the Chia Green smoothie recipe below.
I have also created a FREE Green Smoothie Cleanse to ease digestive distress like bloating, gas and constipation while also lifting the brain fog and giving you more energy, all in just 48 hours!
Chia Green Smoothie
handful spinach or kale
1 tablespoon chia seeds
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.
Til next time,