Healthy Eating is a minefield.
BUT....I bet if I asked you your thoughts, you would already have a pretty rounded picture of what to eat/not eat. Sure there are nuances we start to get into to balance the various macro nutrients for training needs, for lifestyle preferences, for body type etc but the basic foundation behind it all is self-education and trial & error.
Probably the biggest mistake I encounter is people making it too complicated; trying to track macros, eat very restrictive foods, set unreasonable targets, follow insta/youtube stars and eat exactly like they do and so on....we've all been there, we've all tried and we've all come out more confused and frustrated than ever.
So I am going to hopefully shed some light on all of this but I promise you the best thing you can do right now is make healthy eating SIMPLE.
Nailing the basics is your simple first step.
There are some fundamental rules you can start to apply to your daily routine right now that will have a significant impact on your mood, energy levels and appearance. The only catch is that you need to be consistent, meaning you need to literally rinse and repeat.
Healthy eating is simple, but not easy.
If it's so simple, why doesn't everyone look like a superstar! Well the truth is it's not enough to be a #healthmaven on some days and make allowances on others because the cumulative effect is that you just breakeven and stay stuck. There are a few other common faults a lot of us fall prey to and just to note these (I will detail them in another post) may include:
- Not eating enough food!
- Still eating too much (Anyone else not able to control their nut butter portion?) even if it is quote 'healthy'
- Skipping the weight training in favour of non-stop cardio - you need muscle to look lean and toned.
- Relying on #lowfat #zerofat #nofat foods waaaay too much
- Relying on meal replacements
- Being a weekend warrior i.e. anything goes Fri - Sun
- Poor stress and sleep management = hormone out of whack.
- You need to check your expectations. Change takes time and patience, it doesn't happen overnight. These 16/12/8/4 week transformations are typically very unrealistic and even when achieved, the results are short term. Think about it, how often do you get to see the 'after after picture'?
These are just some errors and each deserves more detail which I will get to in another post. Right now I don't want to focus on the 'must nots' and look more closely at just the 'must dos'.
The guidelines below are the absolute starting point for anyone and everyone, no matter what stage you are at in your health journey. These basics need to be a consistent and almost mindless part of your day-to-day diet and ONLY THEN should you start learning and exploring modifications.
I will re-iterate once again that we are all unique, with different needs and lifestyles meaning the next section is a guideline only. Try it, see how you feel and adjust from there.
And remember. Patience, Grasshopper.
The basic set up
To sum it up in one sentence, you want to aim for good quality protein, plenty of coloured vegetables, healthy fats and some fruit and whole grains.
- 3-4 good meals per day [enough to keep you satisfied and not grabbing for snacks all the time]
- Each Meal is Set Up As Follows (snacks half the size)
- Protein: 1 palm women, 2 palm sized servings for men
- Vegetables: At least two cups of vegetables of choice
- Fats: 1 thumb sized portion of fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, oils.
- Whole grains: 1 cupped handful cooked grains OR replace with more vegetables OR 1 piece of fruit.
And that's it.
So let's look at some examples of macro nutrients. To quickly recap:
Macro Nutrients: Protein (meat, chicken, fish), Carbohydrate (fruit, veg, grains, beans), fats (avocado, oils, butter); these are the big building blocks
Micro Nutrients: Vitamins (A,B,C,D,E,K) and Minerals (magnesium, potassium, sodium etc). These are the key players that take up the building blocks and bring them to their required location.
This is partly why processed, empty calories food is so bad for you; it confuses the body and when in doubt, your fat cells are the preferred storage location.
rotein: salmon, hake, cod, tuna, chicken, eggs, beef, pork, duck, soya, tempeh
- All veg: cucumber, potato, butternut, cabbage, kale....
- All fruit: apple, pear, berries, bananas
- All whole grains: oats, millet, rice, buckwheat, rye
- Legumes: beans, pulses
- Nuts & Seeds: chia, hemp, cashew, almonds
- Oils: coconut, olive, almond, avocado oil
- Other: avocado
That's about it. See? Easy!
Yes there is a lot more to play with: timing, macros, high/low fat, high/low carb etc etc etc BUT this is absolutely futile to do at random and hope for some sort of result. You have to first develop your baseline and then slowly incorporate more and more from there.
And sometimes you don't have to incorporate anything! Not everyone has to track their macros or eat ketogenic - it's about finding what's right for you and balancing it into your lifestyle in a healthy and stress-free way!
Until next time.