The heavily anticipated follow up to “Eat like this …!
- Drink lots of water and other non-calorie containing drinks
First of all, let’s settle this up. Most of us really don’t need to be drinking our calories except in the instance of a post-workout shake or maybe some half-time Gatorade. That could probably take care of an entire blog post all to itself, so I will leave it at that and let you ask questions if you have them. So, no soda, no coffee with sweeteners, no fruit juice etc. etc. etc.
Now, why should you drink lots and lots of non-calorie containing fluids? Hydration is important. You may have heard, but our bodies are mostly water. Our bodies do not function optimally in any way without proper hydration levels. And guess what, there’s more. Another reason to drink lots of fluid is to help regulate your appetite. The human thirst response is not as strong as the hunger response. It’s gentler and we often mistake it for hunger. What that means is that if you’re not drinking enough fluid, you probably eat when what your body really needs is water not food. On top of that, having a tummy full of water will make you feel more full which is really important if you’re trying to discipline your diet to be able to avoid excessive snacking/indulging.
I recommend drinking fruity herbal teas, green tea with an orange wedge, or coffee without sugar in addition to lots and lots of water. These drinks are calorie free and contain other beneficial nutrients.
- Focus on whole foods
What I mean here is eat foods that have not been overly processed. The fresher, more organically intact, and less chemically exposed your food is, the more nutrient dense it will be and the easier it will be for your body to break it down properly. That means you’re food will better fuel your needs and be less of a burden on your digestive and excretory systems. This typically means paying a bit more for your food, but I ask you, what would you rather do, pay for good food now or pay for good health care later?
- Have 10% foods
10% of the time you should feel free to indulge with whatever foods you choose. Your body can totally handle the “bad” stuff 10% of the time and you will probably be more likely to continue your healthy eating knowing that you’ll be able to indulge from time to time. I highly recommend saving your 10% foods for social settings or other situations that are more out of your control. You want to be able to eat the Chicken Wings and Nachos while you’re at that Super Bowl party, so “save up” your 10% foods for these occasions, not when you’re sitting by yourself watching TV at midnight (who does that?).
- Balance daily food choices with healthy variety
The people that I know that eat healthy have their staple foods. It may be a snack that they go to day after day, or maybe it’s a certain meal rotation (mine is cottage cheese and pineapple, I eat it for a snack almost every day). It’s fine to have the staples, but your diet needs variety to make sure you’re getting everything that your body needs. This means that you should not only mix things up from day to day, but within a meal there also needs to be variety. I love the quote I learned from Mark Verstegen of Athletes’ Performance, “eat a rainbow”. If your food is colorful, like a rainbow, there’s a good chance you’re getting the nutrients your body needs. Plus, remember, the Pot of Gold is always waiting at the end of the rainbow!!!
10. Develop food preparation strategies
Generally, everything comes down to this one. We are so busy and have such an abundant access to quick foods that we often fall victim to eating whatever is available rather than what is best for us. If you want to eat well, you need to prepare ahead of time. Make salads that can last a few days, grill a week’s worth of chicken breasts on Sunday afternoon and use it to place on top of salads or on whole wheat sandwiches, etc. as the week goes on. When you’re starving, you’ll eat whatever is close, so if you want to eat well, you must have a plan.
Enjoy the tips. Happy eating!