These days, with so much conflicting information on diet and nutrition, it’s hard to know what to believe. There are so many “right ways” of eating. Each with a very convincing argument, typically backed by a few studies, flattering before and after photos and a whole host of benefits. Should I go Keto? Paleo? Vegan? Low-fat? Low- cal? Intermittent fasting? It’s a tough road to navigate. Let me help you simplify your meal planning with a few easy to follow tenants.
First, let’s get back to eating whole, non-processed foods. The closer it is to the way nature made it, the better. If it required machines and heavy processing to make it into that form, don’t eat it! Hence the argument against flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the like. Stick to meats, fish, fowl, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and dairy if tolerated. Still want a grain in your diet? Try rice and rice pastas. Still want bread? Take a lesson from the paleo community and experiment with breads made of something other than regular flour. These days many companies are selling pre-baked gluten free and low glycemic breads.
Second, attempt to eat a variety of these foods to diversify nutrient intake and increase satiety. Focus on nutrient density as opposed to counting macro nutrient ratios. The more used to the nutrients your body becomes, the more you will begin to crave the healthier food. This also makes coming off the “junk” easier.
This third tenant is the most crucial to long term, sustainable health. When examining truly healthy diets, they all have the first tenant in them: They are based on whole, nature made, non-processed foods. The differences are essentially in the percentage of fats, proteins and carbs consumed for their believed pros and cons. The question is, what works for your body? Do you feel well eating high fat, moderate protein and low carb? Does it come easily for you? If it does, great! Do you instead thrive on a plant based diet? Does it not feel like work to eat that way day in and out? Awesome, go for it! Do you see my point? So often we force ourselves to follow what someone else has says works for them. Only to fail because it doesn’t “fit” us. If the food is whole, you feel good eating that way and it is sustainable for you, then you will be well.
One final tenant: Prepare for the unexpected! Life happens! Have easy to grab and go foods and snacks so that you can stay on track. Think premixed protein drinks, nuts & seeds, dried & fresh fruit, beef jerky, tuna packets, hard boiled eggs, bottled water and dark chocolate. Yes, I said it… chocolate.
Onto movement. There is equally as much conflicting data about the “right” workout. There are virtues of weight training, cardio and body weight exercise such as yoga and natural movement. But, the answer is essentially the same as your third food tenant. What type of exercise do you enjoy? That will be the most sustainable to you. Try to get a balanced movement diet. Include the core 4: Strength, mobility, flexibility & balance. We need all four for a healthy and agile body. Alternate your days and routine. Work out with a frequency that adds to your energy level, allows adequate time for recovery and allows you to meet your goals. Keep just enough variety to keep yourself interested but please, allow for true progression and competency in your movement. Most importantly, listen to your body! On days your energetic and feel strong, dig in with some weight training. On days your tired, sluggish or distracted, maybe take a walk or do some yoga. Use the outdoors as your gym when possible. If you feel you don’t know where to start. Hire a professional. It could be the best investment you ever make. But please be sure they are well trained and certified in their sport.
- Jennifer Brookby R.N.
RKC & MovNat certified personal trainer