As a nutritionist, this time of year brings a smile to my face:
- Detox programs are selling like crazy.
- Weight Watchers commercials are cued up.
- The Whole 30 books are on the front bookstore display.
- P90X and Ninja Juicers are re-awakened on infomercials.
- FitBits continue to fly off the shelves.
- People climb out of their bat-caves to use the gym membership they use for 2-3 months per year.
- And your inbox is flooded with e-mails rivaling Black Friday deals for programs, meal delivery services and other clean eating hacks.
The health and fitness industry totally has us wrapped around their finger.
And with good reason.
After hibernating from feel-good health habits and routine for the past few months (Halloween to New Year’s), we are ready to dust the dirt off our rusty wheels and get back to moving and grooving:
- Fresh eats.
- A regular workout routine.
- Water over soda.
- A sugar detox.
- More green juice.
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
Phew! It sure feels good to feel good…or does it?
Although many of these diets and habits may “do the job” to get you back on track, the problem with most conventional methods for “healthy” living is that….many of them are still very extreme (and not sustainable).
You drink green juice for 7 days straight…only to go right back to diet soda and French fries.
You stick to your 90-minute morning workout routine…for 4 weeks straight before burn out happens.
You annihilate sugar, only to splurge on donuts, ice cream and chocolate when all is said and done—you “earned it.”
Why do such things to yourself? Live in extremes.
While all the diets and programs and quick-fixes are calling your name this time of year, why not do something different for once? Approach healthy living as a way to make peace with your body—not war?
Healthy Eating Made Easy: 8 Simple Lifestyle & Nutrition Tips for 2017
(No Fit Bit, Calorie Counting or Cardboard-Eating Required)
1. New Song
Quit telling yourself it’s “so hard.” It’s time to start singing a new song. Whatever obstacles used to stand in your way, today is a new day, and this year is a new year. We are byproducts of the words and songs we tell ourselves. “It’s hard.” “I suck at this.” “Healthy eating is too complicated.” Half the battle is already lost right there.
2. Stock Your Kitchen
“Inconvenience” is one of the top cited reasons people don’t “eay healthy.” When hunger strikes, Whataburger, Chinese takeout or an Amy’s frozen dinner is so much easier than waiting on veggies and meat to cook up (not to mention tastier if you haven’t mastered the art of simple, delicious food). Enter: Arming yourself (and your kitchen) with easy grab-and-eat options that make “healthy eating” the EASY CHOICE. Here are my top 20 recs to throw delicious meals together in a pinch:
- Rotessierie Chickens (no funky ingredients)
- Canned Wild Salmon and Tuna
- Canned Roasted Chicken
- Eggs/Hardboiled Eggs
- Turkey/Chicken Sausage, frozen, nitrate free
- Frozen turkey burgers, no additives (Applegate Farms)
- Deli turkey, ham, roast beef, nitrate free
- Jars of Bone Broth (my fav-Fond Bone Broth or this one)
- Full fat , plain yogurt/Greek yogurt/Coconut yogurt
- Additive-free Protein Powder (for smoothies) and Collagen
- Sweet potatoes (Take 5-7 minutes in the microwave!)
- Frozen broccoli, kale, mixed veggies
- Coconut Butter and Almond Butter
- Apples, oranges, pears, frozen berries
- Boxed spinach/leafy greens
- Coconut Flour tortillas
- Primal Kitchen Primal Ranch, Honey Mustard and Mayo
- Hot Sauce, Coconut Aminos, Dijon Mustard, Canned Coconut Milk
- Ghee, Coconut Oil
- Spices: Sea salt, pepper, cinnamon, curry/tumeric
3.Cook the Basics in Bulk.
Batch or bulk cooking is a staple for saving time during the week and having good food on hand. The thing is: It doesn’t have to be complicated. Set aside a couple hours on a Saturday or Sunday if you have more time, or do what I do: Batch cook throughout the week. A few nights every week, while I’m home, going about my nighttime routine, I’ll whip up a few things to have on hand as I go nonstop from 6 am to 9 pm most days. This may include: Batch cooked sweet potatoes, butternut or spaghetti squash, roasted veggies, a whole chicken or crispy chicken thighs, baked salmon, bison burger patties or ground turkey taco meat. This task a few nights a week takes no more than 5-10 minutes to prep, and the foods cook themselves in the oven, or quickly on the stove. One night may be chicken and veggies, the next a restock gfor my sweet potato arsenal, and beyond. In other words: it’s not that complicated.
4. Make 2-3 New Recipes
When you start cooking for yourself, it’s easy to think (or confuse) cooking with gourmet cooking—and recipe-ing. You binge read recipe books for inspiration. Dog mark 50-something pages that sound good. Scour Pinterest with the search terms, “Whole 30,” “Paleo,” “Gluten-free.” Glance through Instagram, liking all the food porn, wondering, “How do they get their pictures to look so good?!” It can be overwhelming. Cooking does not necessarily equal “recipes.” In other words, the simplest of meals are often times the most delicious—and don’t require a cook book at all—meat, veggies, ghee or coconut oil, and whatever spices suit your fancy will go a LONG way. That said, instead of feeling like you have to cook something different every night, start with choosing 2 to 3 different things to prep that week, and otherwise, stick to the basics.
5. Choose 2-3 Uniform Breakfasts & Lunches
Outside of your recipe rundown, a simple way to make your new sustainable healthy lifestyle work for you is to take a little bit of thought out of meal planning or prep by choosing a rotation of 2 to 3 “uniform” breakfasts or lunches—staples or “go tos” that you know you like, taste good and you can prep, no sweat. Then, leave it to dinners to mix things up (and even eat leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. A few ideas:
- Breakfast 1: Chicken or turkey sausage + greens + avocado
- Breakfast 2: Scrambled eggs with greens & mushrooms + orange or berries + nitrate-free bacon
- Breakfast 3: Coconut milk + protein powder + greens + 1/2 banana + spoonful nut butter
- Lunch 1: Chicken or turkey + collard green/romaine lettuce wrap + avocado-oil mayo + plantain chips
- Lunch 2: Canned wild salmon or tuna + mixed green salad + coconut butter + butternut squash or diced sweet potatoes
- Lunch 3: Leftovers from dinner
You choose your fav foods to fit a simple template that includes: Protein, fat and veggies at each meal.
6. Start Your Day Off with Water.
Water is the most important nutrient you consume. Your body is at least 60% water—and it needs water to give it life. You’ve probably heard it before: You can go 3+ weeks without food, but only 3-7 days without water, before your body would give out. Some of the benefits of this nutrient include: Mental clarity and enhanced brain function, improved gut health and digestion, energy and thriving metabolism. Win, win, win, win.
7. Chew Your Food & Breathe.
An often overlooked and under-rated “double threat” to stellar health: Proper digestive practices. Your health is directly attributed to what you digest (or don’t digest), and unfortunately most of us have become increasingly disconnected with proper digestion. In fact, approximately 3 in 4 Americans report some sort of GI distress or dysfunction (bloating, gas, constipation, GERD, etc.) and when GI distress goes up, our health goes down (i.e hormonal imbalances, skin breakouts, allergies, lowered immunity, blood sugar imbalances, metabolic dysfunction, etc.). Ever heard: “The gut is the gateway to health?” It’s true. Gut health is just like having a pebble in your shoe. If your gut health is poor, it makes everything else uncomfortable, regardless of the type of strides you make—it’s still there.
Just like allergies, and skin breakouts, unwanted weight gain, headaches, cancers, Diabetes, slowed metabolism, crazy PMS, bloating, constipation, foggy brain, ADD/ADHD, etc. come—and we try to “fix them” by prescribing medications, calorie counting, popping an Advil, choosing sugar-free artificial sweeteners, etc.—the pebble (underlying cause: poor gut health) is STILL there, until we address it.
In your efforts to “be healthier,” tone-it-up, lose a few inches or put on some healthy muscle, instead of focusing so much on counting calories, eating cardboard, working out harder and tracking your macros in My Fitness Pal, turn your eyes (and mind) inward: The gut.
How is your digestion? Optimal digestion occurs in the parasympathetic state (rest and digest). Improve it by chewing your food—really really well—at meal times (like 30 times) and just breathing (take a minute or two to just breathe before meals). Ah. Siggggghhhh.
8. Invest In…
No need to buy every gadget on the TV infomercials. Here are a handful of helpful gizmos and gadgets to invest in for helping your new healthy lifestyle be second nature:
- Good sharp set of knives
- A couple quality cooking pans (Stainless Steel or Cast Iron)
- Glassware Tupperware. For storing all your good eats.
- Instapot: Cook ANYTHING you would in the Crockpot in about an hour or less. Instant cooking at your finger tips.
- Home Water Filter. Two words: Clean water. Enough said.
How’s that for starters?