I keep seeing all kinds of “Fad Diets” going around. Lately, it seems like the Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting are really popular. A few years ago, everyone was doing the Paleo Diet, juice cleanses are popular too. But how do you figure out what’s right for you? Let me tell you 2 things…there is no “one size fits all” diet. Everyone’s body is different and everyone has individual dietary needs. Also, just putting it out there, not all calories are equal…1000 calories of broccoli is healthier and more beneficial to our bodies than 1000 calories of cake with frosting. A 5 year old could tell you that.
So if there’s no one diet that will work for everyone and if calorie counting is a thing of the past, where do we start if we want to get healthy??!
Well I’ll give you this suggestion…start with just cleaning up your diet. Feel out what works for you and what makes you feel good. Try different foods and see when you feel most energized and have less brain fog. And if you have to, write down the foods you eat and how you physically and mentally feel after you eat it.
So without further ado, here are my 10 tips to get you started!
***I am a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach however, this blog is my own personal experience and my own opinion and is not to be mistaken for health and nutrition advise. For more information, please see my blog disclaimer.
1.Eat Real Food!
Rule of thumb, if you know what it is or what is used to be, eat it! Eat food that comes from the earth. That’s the food God has provided for us to eat. You can eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains (not refined), organic animal protein, beans/legumes, etc. Nothing processed, no preservatives, just eat food in its most natural state.
2. Avoid Packaged Food
This goes along with eating real food, but avoid anything that comes in a package. Packaged foods usually have a long ingredient list with all kinds of preservatives, fillers, artificial colors, flavoring, refined carbs, refined sugars, trans fats, I could go on. Most packaged food is not real food…its food imitations in my opinion. We should not be eating it if we want to feel our best and look our best.
3. Avoid Sugar
Americans eat WAYYY too much sugar. About 40-50 years ago, the average person ate 10lbs of sugar per year. Now, the average person eats 150lbs of sugar per year! And we wonder why we have increasing rates of diabetes and cancer. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and our population is extremely addicted to sugar. If you want to get healthy, one of the best things to do is cut out sugar. (For tips on how to cut back on sugar, click here.)
4. No Soda, Limit Alcohol
This goes along with avoiding sugar. One 12oz bottle of Coca-Cola has 39g of sugar (that’s way more than a days’ worth.) Even worse, that sugar is from High Fructose Corn Syrup which is genetically modified and contains glyphosate (cancerous weed killer.) Coca-Cola also has caramel color which is a possible carcinogen, so it’s best to avoid. (Dr. Mark Hyman has a great post on the dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup.) And it’s not just about avoiding the sugar in soda. Artificial sweeteners have a whole laundry list of issues as well, so they should also be avoided.
A lot of alcohol has added sugar too…especially mixed drinks. They’re loaded with artificial flavoring, colors, and sugary syrups. If you’re going to drink, limit it to one or two drinks and stick with something like red wine, which at least has some health benefits and high antioxidant content.
If you’re craving a carbonated beverage, try some Kombucha! (But read the label first because some of them do have added sugars.)
5. Cook at Home
The best way to know what you’re eating and what is going into your food is to cook at home. Also, the good, loving energy going into the food you cook at home makes it even better! It’s easy to avoid excess sugar, salt, preservatives, and additives when you’re making it yourself. Also, any recipe can be modified and any ingredients can be swapped for something healthier. Cooking at home is a great way to experiment and figure out what you like and what makes you feel good!
6. Plan Ahead
Part of cooking healthy meals at home is planning ahead. Make a list of meals you’d like to make during the week before heading to the grocery store. Or if you’re like me and like to meal prep, make a list of what you need to prep before heading to the grocery store. When I meal prep, I like to make a few days’ worth of a protein like chicken or fish, and whole grain like rice or quinoa. I also always have lettuce to make a salad in the fridge too with Bragg’s ACV dressing. I store that in the fridge and I know I can put together a well-balanced meal any time!
Also, planning ahead prevents you from mindlessly wandering the grocery store isles. When you plan ahead and make your grocery list, stick to it and don’t wander down the center isles where most of the junky food is kept. Generally, try to stay in the perimeter of the store.
7. Go for Frozen, Not Canned
Frozen fruits and vegetables are great! They’re usually frozen immediately so they maintain most of their nutrients. Also, they don’t have a bunch of salt or chemicals like BPA that canned food has. Plus, frozen fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer for months! It’s always great to have a stash so you always have something healthy in your kitchen.
8. Avoid the Dirty Dozen
EWG comes out with a Dirty Dozen list for the year with the fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide contamination. Any food on the Dirty Dozen list should only be eaten if it’s organic. Otherwise, skip it…the large amount of pesticides is definitely not doing your body any good.
9. Ditch the Condiments
Condiments like Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Mustard, Mayonnaise, etc. have a lot of preservatives, artificial ingredients and fillers. You can find healthier versions made with real ingredients however, if you’re not sure what to look for to make sure it’s okay to eat, just avoid it. You can easily season any food with some olive oil and seasonings like basil, parsley, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, etc. Real seasonings…not seasonings with “Natural Flavors” on the ingredient label.
10. Eat Foods That Make You Feel Good (Physically)
This is the most important tip of all! Everyone’s body is different! You could be eating the “healthiest” food on the planet, but if you feel like junk after, you’re probably eating something your body doesn’t like. You want to eat food that makes you feel good, energized, that digests well, that makes your skin look good, and that makes you feel good mentally too. The best thing you can do is listen to your body. Even make a food log and write down how you feel after you eat certain foods to figure out your own nutritional needs! There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to diet and food.
So there you have it! Have you tried any fad diets? Did they work for you? Leave me a comment because I’d love to know your thoughts!