SLEEP. NUTRITION. STRESS MANAGEMENT. EXERCISE.
How we look and feel is a byproduct of how we treat ourselves, how we love ourselves and how we nourish ourselves.
Every time we eat, we’re creating the foundational shape and structure of our bodies. We literally are what we eat.
Sometimes, figuring out WHAT to eat can be a real struggle with all the competing information out there.
In my opinion, there’s no “one perfect diet.” There’s value in many of the different eating strategies – because different things work for different people at different times.
And there is value in self-experimentation, because figuring out what works for your body – and your lifestyle – isn’t a simple clear cut equation.
Despite their many differences, the one thing ALL the best eating strategies seem to agree on is that eating whole foods is the baseline for success.
That’s why I don’t argue or disagree that different dietary strategies are effective. One might work better for your specific lifestyle, one might work better because of the season of life you’re in, one might work better because of other compounding factors.
What it comes down to is:
- Does what you’re eating support your body with whole foods that give you good energy, clear skin, the fit physique you’re after AND….
- Does the practice of how you’re eating fit your lifestyle so it’s something sustainable?
I like to keep it simple, so I focus on what nutrients are in my foods, and strive to get them from the most natural sources possible in a way that fits my lifestyle.
This is the approach that I teach and use myself in the Body Fuel System.
Here is exactly how I think through my healthy eating choices:
1. START WITH PROTEIN
When planning your meals for the day, start with your protein, add plenty of greens, then build your meal around that with whole food carbohydrates and/or fats, and eat to satisfaction.
Not every meal will have ALL the nutrients represented of course, but they should ALL contain protein, and all the nutrients should make an appearance over the course of a day.
- Getting in quality protein for your active lifestyle is essential for everything from supporting your muscle recovery and strength to your immune health.
- Because protein is more satisfying than fat or carbs, you’ll feel more full when you include it in adequate amounts and it can even reduce or eliminate cravings.
Preparing and eating enough protein can be time consuming, so a common shortcut is to supplement with a protein powder. This is exactly what I’ve done for years and it’s really helped me maintain my muscle tone and reduce cravings.
I created I ❤️ Vanilla Protein for this reason – I wanted a reliable plant-based, organic protein powder that tasted great, was smooth in a blend, and easy to use in my baked goods as well.
It’s a great shortcut and I always include it on days I work out. You can order it right here if this sounds useful for you as well.
2. ADD FIBER-RICH CARBS
Carbohydrates, when they come from whole food sources and are prepared as close to the way they came from Mother Nature as possible, are an excellent energy source that will support your healthy, fit body goals – not take away from them.
The best way to get into optimal “fat burn” mode is actually to have enough energy to show up to your workouts, think clearly and power through your day. Fiber is essential to a healthy gut and digestive flow, and carbs are your brain’s preferred energy source for focus and concentration.
Some examples of fiber-rich, nutrient dense whole food carbohydrates are….
- Grains*: Quinoa, rice (all varieties, but especially wild, long-grain, and brown) and oats.
- Legumes*: Beans (all kinds), lentils and peas.
- Starchy Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, pumpkin, squash and yams.
I would limit processed and pre-made carbohydrates. If you opt instead for the whole food sources, you’ll be more full and satisfied and not reaching for the other stuff.
*I recommend traditional grain and legume preparation, like soaking, sprouting and fermenting to ensure you’re getting the benefits of these nourishing and fiber-rich energy sources without irritation. There are many savvy brands these days that have done that work for you, so look for “sprouted quinoa” “germinated rice” etc. to save time.
3. INCLUDE HEALTHY FATS
When it comes to fat, we want to eat nutrient-dense whole food sources of it in order to reap the benefits. Here are some of my favorites:
- Gives you long lasting energy – so you can think better, work harder and live life to the fullest!
- Stabilizes blood sugar – which can prevent insulin spikes that trigger fat storage.
- Feel full longer – which promotes satiety and reduces cravings.
- Reduces inflammation – Omega 3 fats are especially beneficial in this regard.
- Produces and regulates hormones – for example eating healthy fat stimulates the production and secretion of leptin, the hormone that helps regulate food intake, maintain a healthy body weight, and ensure your metabolism is in working order.
The amount you take in daily is really dependent on the dietary strategy you follow, just be sure you’re making your choices from whole food sources.
Some of my favorite sources of healthy fats include:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cold pressed oils: coconut, olive, avocado, etc.
4. FOCUS ON GREENS and VEGGIES
Greens and veggies play an important role in supporting our health. They include vital micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that aid your body in many processes and enhance the actions of your protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats – plus often contain digestive-healthy fiber.
Eating more of them – and a VARIETY of them can support your immune system, help you thrive, and protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes and much more.
Even with so many great options out there, it can still be tough to find creative ways to include enough of them each and every day which is why I cover my protein AND green bases with Berry Green Protein.
It’s just so convenient – and you get 22 grams of plant protein, plus 15 total organic greens, veggies and fruits
You can shake it up in water alone, you can blend it in a smoothie, or you can even bake with it.
I mentioned how important it is to have variety in your greens – making a smoothie is a great way to vary the greens you get, and adding a bonus scoop of Berry Green Protein can help boost the overall nutrient content to get the full spectrum.
Here are 2 of my favorite easy smoothie recipes (and you’ll find many more recipes on the blog as well to make things that represent ALL of these nutrients):
There may be times in life where it’s challenging to make your normal eating habits as much of a priority, so I also wanted to share some of my healthy shortcuts that are readily available for you.
I use all of these for my “minimal” prep weeks and they may be useful to you as well. This healthy eating shortcuts guide is packed with helpful time-saving tips, tools and shortcuts for keeping your nutrition game strong when life starts throwing you curve balls.
My 30-Day Challenge Meal Plan comes with a 4-week daily menu, healthy recipe cookbook, grocery lists and a bonus dessert cookbook so you can enjoy a totally balanced lifestyle!