Most of my clients tell me they “eat healthy” but might not be seeing the results they want. If you feel stuck in your eating habits or perhaps have tried many diets, but nothing works long term, it’s time to take a closer look at how you’re using food. These three simple changes can get you on the right track.
Eat a Breakfast of Protein, High-Fiber and Healthy Fats
Avoid breads, cakes, waffles, or other refined carbohydrates. Your meal will not only be healthier, it will make you feel full longer and prevent a cycle of cravings and crashes throughout the day as your blood sugar spikes and drops.
You don’t have to eat breakfast immediately upon waking; in fact, it’s better to wait an hour or two until you’ve used up your energy stores. Hence the combination of “break” and “fast,” since you’re breaking a fast you started after dinner the day before.
- Protein, including eggs, lean meats and legumes, take more energy to digest than simple carbohydrates, helping you burn more calories
- High-fiber vegetables and fruits, including broccoli, berries, bananas and apples with skin on, are slow digesting and gut-healthy, giving you a feeling of satiety
- Healthy fats, including walnuts, avocados and oily fish, are fuel for your brain and nervous system and are good for concentration and focus
Tune In to Your Hunger Cues Throughout the Day
Recognize when you’re truly hungry. It could be thirst or a trigger response to something else going on at the time. You should be able to go 4-6 hours between meals or snacks, and feeling hungry for a bit is okay! Avoid grazing. It’s healthier for your metabolism if you take a break from food.
- Improves insulin sensitivity for energy use and storage
- Controls appetite
- Helps your body burn fat rather than the immediate use of energy (sugars) from food
Be Mindful About What You Put In Your Body
Use food as fuel, not as filler. Most people will perform well with a meal consisting of 50-65% high fiber carbohydrates, 20-35% lean proteins, and 10-20% healthy fats. Depending on your activity level, type of activity and duration, your macronutrient needs will vary. For example, high-intensity or long-duration exercise will require more carbohydrates. Heavy weight training requires more protein for muscle repair and recovery. Age and health conditions can also impact your macronutrient needs. Everyone benefits from foods containing micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
- Adjusting macronutrient proportions for your activity level, activity type and duration will increase your performance
- Choosing high-quality, nutrient-dense foods will help prevent disease and increase your overall well being
- Getting nutrients from foods maximizes your body’s absorption of those nutrients
Don’t know where to start with your new habits? Make one small change, such as trying a new vegetable, and stick with it for a week or two. If you are consistent with that, add another thing and stay consistent with that too. It takes time to introduce a new habit, but your body will love you for it!