When it comes to nutrition and diet information, everyone has some idea of what they believe healthy eating is. So how do you know what sources or who to believe?
And each expert or association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right? Well, maybe…
We live in a world where most people believe that if they eat less, they’ll weigh less (eventually). If you’ve ever been on a diet, then you’ve probably cut calories. Most dieters focus on how much they eat. That being said, while this does have an impact on your weight and energy levels, it's not the Pot O’ Gold at the end of the rainbow in regards to health.
The often overlooked benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. It's true, limiting calories, carbs and fat can certainly help you lose weight, but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy.
Anyone who has been on a diet and lost weight only to gain it back learns that cutting calories is the the answer. You can continue to count calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods) and more fruits and vegetables. This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
● A colorful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
● Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
● Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.
One tbsp of Olive oil is 120 calories and 13.4 Gr of fat. For every 100 calories you injest you store 97 calories of fat. Fat is fat, and it converts to body fat very easily. So, use cooking oils sparingly, like tbsp per day!
Eat your organic egg yolks and get grass-fed meats when possible. Add seeds and nuts to salads as a way to get healthy fat into your diet. Have a piece of fish once a week and an occasional piece of an avocado. You don't need to overdo it here. Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink. Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought. Are you in a hurry, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat, let's first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with 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?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients. And don't forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be a beneficial and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don't get me wrong, 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. And don't 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.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 chopped peach
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.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein. Studies have shown that chia seeds can help reduce bad cholesterol in the body, reduce inflammation in numerous areas in the body and lower blood pressure. All of these means your blood flow becomes healthier, and your heart is at less risk of suffering from disease or clots.