This all started out as nutritional advice for a friend, who is trying to live a healthier life. By no means am I an expert on nutrition, this is just information I’ve picked up along the way. I’ll also be the first to admit that there’s no right or wrong way to live your life. Personally, I live mine by two specific guidelines:
- Do what feels good for you.
- Everything in moderation.
Here is an example of a typical client conversation:
Client: “I’m trying to lose weight but it’s not going well.”
Me: “Okay, what are some of the things you’re doing?”
Client: “I’m working out and eating better.”
Me: “What are you eating in a day?”
Client: “I have a smoothie for breakfast, with frozen peaches & mangoes, spinach, yogurt and milk. For a snack, I eat nuts, low fat cheese and a bit of fruit. At lunch, I eat a sandwich and veggie sticks. For dinner, I eat some kind of meat with veggies and rice.”
So, you can see this client is trying to be healthy, but there are a lot of issues with the food they’re eating.
Here are some food facts to help you make better choices:
Avoid white foods
They’re typically white because they’ve been processed and through that processing, not only have they become white but the nutrients have been removed from them. White foods have the least nutritional value of all. (Sugar, pasta, rice, bread.)
Eat as many vegetables as possible
Eat vegetables at every meal – even breakfast! You honestly can’t eat enough. Vegetables have an array of vitamins and minerals – they also have energetic benefits for different parts of your body. Example: Each chakra in your body is represented by a color. The heart chakra is green – if you only eat green vegetables you’re only feeding your heart chakra. Balanced energy comes from balance food intake – if you’re into that sort of thing. I AM!
To eat meat or not to meat
First of all, you should know that I love bacon – but I’m about to drop a bomb on you meat eaters. Meat isn’t nutritionally dense; it has no nutritional value. Humans have no biological or nutritional need for animal products, however, it is a great source of complete protein. Protein is imperative in a diet because all the cells in our body contain protein, it’s what helps with cell repair and making new cells. But you can get everything you need from a whole food plant based diet. You can also get protein in your diet through nuts, beans, seeds and spinach. (Those are just a couple of examples.) High protein diets are great for bulking and often used for rapid weight loss, but if they’re not done right you’re basically starving your body of the nutrients it needs. The reason you lose weight is because your body takes longer to break down protein. If you are going to eat meat, it’s recommend that you eat only fist sized portions. Personally, I have mixed feelings about meat and I’m a part-time meat eater because of its mass production. If we get super basic and say everything we ingest gives our body energy – what kind of energy are we going to get from farmed/ tortured meat? Food for thought. (Literally.)
Drinking water should be the first thing you do when you wake up – it’s amazing for you. Not only because people are made of 60% water, (80% if you’re a baby – random fact of the day) but because it lubricates your digestive passageway and gets your metabolism going. What a great way to start the day!
Eat your fruits
Fruit is great for you. Nutrients, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants. If your trying to lose weight, it’s recommended that you stick to a couple cups of fruit a day. Some fruit has less fruit sugar (fructose) than others like apples and berries – but it’s always a much better option than a donut! Just use your discretion.
Fat in your diet
Fats are actually really good for you. They help you absorb vitamins and minerals and they’re needed for cell membranes and surrounding nerves. Fats help with muscle movement, blood clotting, inflammation. What people don’t realize is there are good and bad fats. Good fats come from vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fish. Here’s a good rule of thumb – the less processed your food is, the better. This goes for butter/margarine – and pretty much everything else. Always choose the most whole food possible.
Nuts are good for you and very nutrient dense. However, they are high in calories, so it’s recommended that you only eat about a handful a day.
Okay, so now we have some food basics down, let’s talk about how foods effect your body and how you should go about dieting.
All dis-ease in the body is caused by inflammation. Gluten and diary are the two most inflammation-causing foods you can eat. Think about it this way – milk makes baby cows turn into adult cows. Do you want to grow big like a baby cow? Exactly, I didn’t think so. Most people have varying degrees of intolerance. 50 years ago, the only people who ate cheese were people with money. Now days most people in North America eat cheese every day. I know – I love cheese too, it’s one of my favorite things – but everything should be eaten in moderation.
Try to steer clear of acidic food – especially on an empty stomach. This is another reason your body has to deal with inflammation, and your body actually steals calcium from your bones to balance your blood pH level. This probably hits home for all you wake up and coffee people.
Fasting is SO awesome for you because it’s actually one of the only things that lowers your weight threshold. Anyone who has tried a fad diet and lost a lot of weight, only to gain it all back, will totally get this. You’re teaching your body what normal is – that’s why losing weight is so tough. Historically we were hunters and gathers. Humans would hunt and eat a big feast then fast until their next food intake. Fasting lowers insulin levels, increases growth hormone, induces cell repairs, which all increase the breakdown of body fat for energy. Basic fasting is 12 hours overnight. (8pm dinner – 8am breakfast.) Hardcore fasting is 24 hours, typically weekly. However, this is not recommended if you are already not eating regular meals. If inconsistent food intake is the reason you aren’t losing weight, then start eating smaller meals more times a day. (4-6)
This is probably the most underrated health tip I can give you. When you aren’t consistent with food intake your body stores EVERYTHING!
- Avoid white food
- Eat your vegetables
- Decrease your gluten and diary intake – I’m not a monster, I wouldn’t tell you to give them up totally – I love my ice cream and cheese.
- Eat regular meals
- Eat as much whole food as possible (unprocessed)
Here’s a couple good quotes from my old trainer:
“Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”
“By failing to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Another tip to stay on track is to keep your grocery shopping limited to the outside aisles of the store. The package, processed, convenient food is in the middle – stay away from it!
The truth is, true nutritional health is part education and part habit. Most people will choose the quickest, most convenient way to do things. Food has been one of my biggest health struggles. I’m a very busy person and preparing healthy meals is sometimes low on my long list of daily priorities, which is kind of ironic, as it’s the only thing that truly sustains and nourishes the body. I think the trick is to keep practicing until it becomes easy, then becomes a habit, then just a way of life.