By Florencia Tagliavini, the NutraMilk nutritionist.
Eating healthy is about creating healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle that sticks, its not about which is the best diet to be on. If your looking for the next best diet such as a Vegan diet, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, or the new 2021 diet to loose weight or be healthy, your starting in the wrong direction. That´s not to say that these diets are bad, some may be healthier than others and can offer a good template to follow. But, keep in mind that healthy is not the same for everyone. We can thrive on different diets. We need to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes that lasts, and that can be different for each one of us. Eating real whole foods, unprocessed foods in their natural state is one of the most important habits to incorporate no matter which type of diet your on. There are lots of tips and recommendations for getting started and making healthy changes, but here are my top 5 for this year:
1) Go back to home cooking
With the pandemic many of us turned to cooking more at home. Great job if that´s you! Keep it up and learn how to make it more convenient and efficient. Meal planning and batch cooking will set you up for success so your spending less time in the kitchen, less thinking about what to cook and eat and getting more nourishing foods in your body. Challenge yourself to learn a new recipe each week. Practice makes meals easy to make, delicious and boosts your confidence in the kitchen so you rely less in ´take out´.
If you haven´t started cooking, this is the time to start. Cooking more at home will help you eat more real, nutritious foods. Not only that, it will allow you to control what exactly goes into the foods you are eating since many packaged foods and foods from restaurants are full of high-calorie additives such as industrial oils and unhealthy fats, preservatives, and sugars. These all add up to a serious surplus of calories!
2) Make your plate colorful and balanced
Colorful veggies please! Eating a variety of vegetables offers many vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber important to health. Try to fill half of your plate or more with colorful vegetables, one-quarter or less of your plate with whole grains and one-quarter of your plate with protein of choice. Don´t forget about important the heart-healthy fats!
This is just a rough guide and can be done differently but it is important that we get all the macro and micronutrients we need on a daily basis for our bodies to run optimally and thrive.
3) Practice mindfulness
Being present when eating is crucial to the digestive process. Eating in front of cell phones, TVs, and computers prevent us from fully savoring our meals and feeling those satiating signals from the brain, causing you to overeat and disrupting the digestion process. Most of us with the pandemic have increased our screen time so take it down a notch, start with picking one meal a day to have without screens.
Practice making a deeper connection and gratitude for the food that's in front of you and try engaging all your senses as you eat. Creating a healthy relationship with food is part of creating healthy eating habits.
4) Introduce more sugar swaps
Two hundred years ago the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year. By 1915 the average sugar consumption per person was 17.5 pounds. Now, the number rose to 150 pounds or more of sugar per person annually. Sugar offers empty calories, meaning no nutrients, nothing good for the body, instead its detrimental to our health- its associated with all sorts of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart-disease, chronic disease, etc. How can we lower the amount of sugar we consume? Instead of cutting sugar completely out, which may seem impossible and hard to sustain, try swapping those high sugar foods with options that have less sugar. A few items such as soft drinks, sweets and baked goods are notorious for their high sugar content, start by trying to cut down the amount you consume and making swaps. Look for alternative beverages to replace soft drinks and watch out for the fruit drinks labeled as a healthy alternative, read labels as most processed foods are full of added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Here are just a few ideas and recipes:
- Swap sodas to 100% juice with mixed with plain seltzer or check out some beverages you can make with the NutraMilk.
- Swap ice cream to nice cream made with frozen bananas for a natural sugar fix.
- Swap store-bought granola to a homemade delicious low sugar nut butter granola.
- Swap condiments to no-added/low-sugar versions like homemade salad dressings, pesto sauce, nut butter- based sauces.
- Swap classic store-bought plant milks to naturally sweet and creamy nut milks made with the NutraMilk.
5) Change your focus regarding what you eat
Instead of focusing on the foods you´ll missing be out on, focus on all the delicious foods you can eat. Place your focus there and find foods you enjoy that are part of a healthy diet. Think about what your body needs to function well, boost immunity, prevent inflammation and disease which is more important than ever in the times we live now. Get all those healthy foods in your body that provide those much needed nutrients and then you can incorporate treats that you may like but might not be the most nutritious.
Check out some additional blogs regarding healthy eating: