Mental Fitness Thought of the Day
Is food your friend? Check out this short video to challenge your thinking about food.
Healthy living starts between your ears.
Is food your friend? Check out this short video to challenge your thinking about food.
Healthy eating does not have to be difficult or complicated. As an advocate for healthy living, understanding food and basic nutrients is important to me. I believe that to change your body (and physical health in general), you must start with your mind first, then your food, and THEN your exercise. You can’t outwork a bad diet, and you’ll never enjoy a lifestyle of healthy eating until your mindset is right about food.
Rather than re-creating the wheel, I’ve simply gathered some resources from the MyFitnessPal Blog that does a great job of simplifying the basics of healthy eating. I like these linked articles because they explain the importance of often persecuted food groups and defends my personal opinion that eating a balanced variety of foods is better than any restrictive “diet-of-the-month” that requires you to cut all carbs or fats. Take some time to read these links and educate yourself. Consider this your crash course in healthy eating.
Essential Guide to Carbohydrates
Want more? Check out my video presentation of a Nutrition 101 course I taught for my employer.
Want your family to eat healthier? It all starts with a healthy shopping list. If your cupboards and fridge contain mostly healthy foods, everyone in your family is likely to eat better. If the junk food is not in your house, you can’t eat it. Duh.
Surprisingly, healthier eating can lower your grocery bills, too. It’s true that ready-to-eat meals and packaged foods save time, but they can cost more and some have too much salt and fat. I was skeptical of this claim like you are, until I tried it myself. If you want real, sustainable change in your health, you’ve got to get the food part right. The good news is that it’s not that hard to do.
Follow these tips to get the most nutrition bang for your buck.
Stock Up With Staples
These pantry basics will give you the foundation you need for better family nutrition at home.
– Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables
– Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and non-instant oatmeal
Steel-cut oatmeal costs just pennies per ounce and is a good source of fiber. I’ve cut a lot of bread out of my diet lately, but I still go for super cheap Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. No need to pay for the fancy stuff.
– Beans, lentils, and peas
Packed with protein and other nutrients, they’re a great way to stretch your food dollar. Save! Use them in everything from soups to chili to burritos. Packaged dried beans cost less but take some planning to cook. Low-sodium canned beans are another option. Rinse canned beans to lower sodium even more.
– Nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts
– Lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs We eat lots of chicken breast, natural deli turkey, 93% lean ground turkey or beef, and eggs. Lots of eggs. So cheap and filling when mixed with veggies in a stir fry or omelette.
– Low-fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products
Children under age 2 should have whole milk unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Yes, you can eat cheese. Real cheese though. Velveeta is not real cheese. Read the ingredients. We like Sargento Cheese. Yogurt and cottage cheese is tricky. Read the ingredients.
Buy Healthy Snacks
How to keep your kids from going overboard on chips, cookies, and other snacks? Make it easy to find the healthy stuff. We’ve learned that kids will adjust to the food you have. Don’t assume you must have junk food snacks for the kids because that’s all they will eat. You are in charge.
Keep these healthy options on the center shelf of the fridge: (this list is on our fridge)
And these on the counter:
3 Surefire Healthy Grocery Shopping Rules
To keep your food choices on track with your family’s health goals, follow these three basic rules as you cruise the supermarket aisles.
Don’t shop hungry. Ever notice what winds up in your cart when you shop with hunger pangs? Eat a nutritious snack beforehand so the munchies don’t take control of your shopping.
Make a healthy shopping list. Even if you know what you need, a list saves time and prevents impulse buys. Organize your list into sections according to the store’s layout. Shop for the healthy items first, picking up the treats last. We use the Kroger ClickList to automate our shopping. When you shop from home via internet, you are far less likely to add items to your cart that aren’t on the list. Saves buckets of money!
Hug the walls — most of the time. Stay focused. Avoid parts of your grocery store with the unhealthy choices. The edges of the store (the perimeter) tend to have the healthiest choices. Detour down center aisles for beans, whole-grain pastas and cereals, and canned and frozen vegetables and fruit. Skip the aisles with chips and other temptations, or get only the items on your list. When you’re grocery shopping with kids, the temptations can be especially distracting.
Let us know your healthy grocery shopping tricks to save time, money, and sanity.
SOURCES: University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa State University: “Convenience costs;” “Snacks for healthy kids;” “Stretch your protein dollar;” “10 tips for saving at the grocery store;” “Ways to save money in 2010;” and “What’s a good buy?”American Dietetic Association: “Raising healthy eaters from preschool to high school” and “Save time and money at the grocery store.”The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: “Winning ways to grocery shop with young children.”WebMD Health News: “Baby Milk Recommendations Changed.”
Some time ago, I wrote about some timeless principles to manage your most important project (YOU) – by focusing on being a better person. You can read it here.
I want to take the idea of managing yourself a step further to look at your physical health. After all, you can’t be your best when you don’t feel good. I’m going to focus on nutrition. Hear me out, this is not a shake-my-finger-at-you sermon to go on a diet. Diets don’t work. My focus is a paradigm shift regarding the way we think about food.
Here are two scientifically proven mathematical equations for food to get us started.
Garbage In = Garbage Out
Eat Real Food = Feel better + Improve Performance + Look Better
Your body is a finely tuned machine. You may not think so when you look in the mirror, but it is absolutely true. It performs countless functions every moment that we don’t even realize. It also gives feedback on how we take care of it.
Much like any other machine, it performs well when it is cared for, and it performs poorly when it is not cared for. Ever put soda or donuts in your car’s gas tank? Would it operate well if you did? In the same way, we need to feed our bodies with the right fuel if we expect to perform our best.
NEWS FLASH: our bodies were not meant to eat highly processed, chemically enhanced, boxed food with 25 ingredients on the nutrition label even if it says “low fat”, “healthy”, “low calorie”, “high protein”, etc. Without getting into all the science of chemical additives and processing, I promise that these unnatural, unpronounceable ingredients are not good for us.
If you feel low on energy during the day, depend on caffeine, carry more weight than you’d like, suffer from pain and fatigue from performing common activities, have indigestion, bloating, or are often “irregular” you should first look at how you fuel your machine.
I’ve been on a journey of natural, whole foods healthy eating for a while now and can attest that it is the secret formula to help all the ailments I mentioned and more.
You might say, “I don’t have time to eat healthy” or “I don’t know how to eat healthy.” I’m with you. I said these things myself, and not too long ago.
Changing your nutrition requires a change in your MINDSET about food first. You must agree that your fuel impacts your body’s performance and that natural, whole food is the best way to eat.
Instead you say, “I can’t afford to eat poorly” or “Learning to eat right is important to me and I’m going to figure out how to do it because I want to perform, feel, and look my best.”
You make conscious decisions about what you put in your mouth because you know that it will absolutely impact you whether you feel it immediately or not. Just like you wouldn’t put soda in the gas tank because you know the car wouldn’t work, you mindset about fueling your body should be the same. I mean who doesn’t want to perform, feel, and look their best today AND for the long term?
Educating yourself about proper nutrition and whole, natural food eating is key. The internet is filled with nutrition advice, some of it is good (and much is not).
My favorite healthy eating resource is www.9010nutrition.com This is a thorough resource with articles, videos, links to healthy recipes, and a no obligation email registration that connects you to even more great advice and encouragement to help you along your healthy eating journey. Of course there is the Fitness & Nutrition tab on my website that has a recipe section as well.
If you are ready to make real and lasting changes to your health, the next step is up to you. I would be honored to help you get started on your healthy living journey. Let’s chat!
Please don’t diet.
Diets in their traditional sense are not sustainable long term. They usually make you feel terrible, starved, irritable, hating life, etc. That’s why people don’t stick to diets and why there is a multi-billion dollar industry built around our propensity to quit and re-start the next diet fad. The results are an exhausting yo-yo through our healthy living journey. What’s the latest diet craze? Keto. No carb. Calorie In Calorie Out? Anyway, whatever is the latest thing is what people will do…and ultimately quit leaving their temporary results behind. Ugh. There must be another way. Good news!
I’m no foodie, and I’m actually not very good at healthy eating. I can dive off the wagon as fast as anyone, chomping cookies all the way to a delightful belly ache. But I’m now 1/2 way through an 80 day eating plan that has my nutrition dialed in like never before and I have to tell you what I’ve learned so far.
1. Using portion control containers is a pain to learn, then super easy.
Portion control containers is not a new concept, but it’s new to me. I loathed the idea of measuring my food, and I was certain it was complicated. Yep, I’m guilty of formulating an opinion without any real evidence or trying it myself.
Here’s the thing. I have a complete written guide that spells out what the containers are for, when I should eat them, and in what combination. I really don’t have to think about it. Just follow the instructions.
2. I’m so full. I can’t eat anymore.
Mind blown on the first day. I selected the nutrition plan that suits my weight and goals based on a simple calculation to pin my calorie range. Mine happens to be about 2,400 calories per day to maintain weight (I’m not interested in losing weight) with 30-60 minutes of daily exercise. I ate so much food that by dinner time I was not even close to hungry. I ate anyway, as prescribed. Hey, I’m a rule follower. It seems very counter-intuitive to eat so much when you are supposed to be eating healthy, but when you eat the right foods at the right times the results will follow. Even Angie’s plan (designed for her to drop a few pounds) has her tummy full every day and she is losing inches and LB’s consistently.
One more thought about this. Simply counting calories and eating whatever you want does not work. You will be hungry because your body is starving for NUTRIENTS not calories. You must feed the machine that is your body!
3. “Meal prep” sounds like a curse word, until you actually do it.
Guilty again of opinion without personal experience. I assumed it would be terrible. “Who has time for meal prep?” Seven weeks in, I testify that meal prep works. Make a mess in the kitchen once and be done for the whole week. Having all your food set for the week is liberating. It’s easy to pack, so it can be taken to work (no excuses) and I don’t have to dig through the fridge/ pantry to find something to eat.
4. My budget likes when I eat well.
You save money when you grocery shop with a plan. We no longer buy things that don’t align with the eating plan, so there is no wasted food and no worthless snacks in the cupboard. Our plan comes with a long list of options for every food category to take any guesswork out of shopping. Buying produce doesn’t go bad when you use it every day. Frozen veggies and fruits last a long time. Most boxed snacks, cereal and other “foods” are expensive if you consider that eating a serving of cookies or chips leaves you hungry in 20 minutes.
5. Having a partner in this is the best.
I would really struggle doing this alone. Angie is my support and I am hers. We are in this together and that makes it more rewarding and fun. This adventure is something we have in common, and we pick each other up when it gets hard. It’s not all easy. Sometimes cookies sound better than carrots, but we have goals, a plan, and each other to press on. We are also in a larger “virtual” support group through a handy phone app with daily check ins and encouragement from others doing the same thing.
6. I feel great!
Eliminating hunger from my daily struggle on my healthy living journey is FREEDOM! I don’t think about food like I used to. I eat what I’m supposed to, when it’s time, and it works. I don’t have sugar spikes and crashes, no bloating, my digestion is excellent, mental clarity is improved, skin feels better, I’m losing fat and adding muscle in all the right places.
So there you go. I guess this is my 40 day review of the nutrition part of the 80 Day Obsession program Angie & I are doing now. I didn’t even touch the workout part – maybe some other time. But even if this amazing Beachbody program isn’t for you, learning portion control and healthy eating has never been easier. Don’t be fooled by elaborate schemes, special “protein bars” or expensive mail delivery meals as seen on TV. You don’t need them. Do this. I’m happy to show you how.