March is National Nutrition Month! Good nutrition doesn't have to be restrictive or overwhelming, boo. 😘
Small goals + changes have a powerful cumulative effect + every little bite is a step in the right direction.
Variety is the mack-daddy to make for-sure-for-sure that you're getting what you need from whole foods. Most fad diets restrict the variety of foods people eat + this leads to severely inadequate nutrition, not to mention they're too boring to sustain for very long.
Humans are natural omnivores, which means that we are biologically programmed to desire a wide variety of foods. Even someone who eats nothing but their favorite food for several days would eventually really want something else.
One way to increase the nutrient-dense + decrease calorie-dense variety is to focus eating high-carb foods in their minimally-processed form.
🍓 Fresh fruit > dried fruit or juice
🥣 Whole wheat pasta, brown rice or oatmeal > white pasta, white rice or dry cereal
🥔 Yams, potatoes or beans > pretzels, french fries or fat free chips
Another way is to simply increase your veggies everyday until they equal the number of high-carb foods. So if you eat 7 servings of pasta, rice or french fries, you eat at least 7 servings of spinach, baked potato or black beans.
If you really wanna go HAM, you can even mix up your veggies with the 5 subgroups - beans/legumes, dark green, red/orange/yellow, starches + all others.
We talk so much about protein, carbs + fat that it's easy to forget about the *most important nutrient* - water. Water makes up 55-75% of your body weight + regulates everything from temperature to digestion to heart rate.
💦 In general, men need at least 12 cups of fluid daily + women need at least 9. (The elderly tend to be dehydrated since they are less active, less thirsty + often worry about incontinence.) Exercise, hot weather, low humidity, high altitude + high-fiber diets all increase your needs for additional fluid.
And yes - skim milk, 100% fruit juices + tea/coffee ALL COUNT! There's also a ton of water in watermelon, strawberries, soup + lettuce.
Here's how to get more water into your days:
💧 Start your morning with a big glass of water
💧 Carry a water bottle with you + refill it often
💧 Always ask for water at restaurants
💧 Infuse your water with fruit or herbs
💧 Add a splash of fruit juice
💧 Try club soda, seltzer or sparkling water
Food manufacturers LOVE to put misleading claims on the front of packages about how "healthy" the food is inside of them. Shocker! Not everything that claims to be "whole grain" is actually made with whole grains - as long as 51% are whole, the company is allowed to make that claim on the package.
Whatever you do, don't ignore the label or miscount servings!
Here are 3 easy steps to know what you're buying + how to buy what you know:
Look at the serving size + the number of servings in the whole package. Something might look like 1 serving but actually count as 2 or more
Look at the calories per serving + see how it fits in your energy needs. (Typically women need 13-15 calories/pound while men need 16-19 calories/pound)
Look at the saturated fat + sodium. Under 10% is great, over 20% is the RED ZONE
Trying to manage portion sizes can feel overwhelming sometimes. 20 years ago, a store-bought blueberry muffin weighed 1.5 ounces + were 210 calories. Today muffins weigh 5 ounces + are 500 calories - that's more than DOUBLE. Even plates, bowls + cups are bigger!
Do you know what healthful portions look like, bro?
🚩 Beverages - a fist is ~1 cup
🚩 Crackers + chips - a handful is ~1 ounce
🚩 Baked goods - 2 fingers (or 1 small biscotti) is ~150 calories (1 palm is ~500 calories!)
🚩 Meat - a deck of cards is ~4 ounces
The phenomenon of portions has been long-studied + there are some really neat-o things you can do to cut down, lower your calories + LOSE WEIGHT:
🚩 Buy smaller plates + bowls
🚩 Use dark colored plates to serve light colored food
🚩 Use small spoons to serve casseroles, potatoes + desserts. Use large spoons to serve vegetables + fruit
🚩 Use tall, slender glasses instead of short, wide glasses
🚩 Cut large pieces of food into smaller, bite-sized pieces
🚩 Begin your meal with a salad (better yet, fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies!)
🚩 Order small sizes instead of super sizes
🚩 Split dessert
🚩 Serve home meals restaurant style (plate the food) instead of family style
🚩 Chew food longer (you'll end up satisfied with less)
🚩 Spray your dressing instead of pouring it
🚩 Buy or put together 100 calorie snack bags
🚩 Keep washed, ripe fruit available + ready-to-eat
We all know that WHAT we eat is important, but we often forget that HOW we eat is just as, if not MORE, important. Mindful eating is the first thing I address with all my clients - it gives your body the time it needs to feel satisfied with less.
All it takes is a little practice to recognize when your body is truly hunger + when it is full. It takes about 20 minutes for you to begin to feel your stomach get a little heavy, the flavors start to dull, your energy + focus increase, and a sense of boredom with the food in front of you.
When you take your time + listen to your body, eating becomes an act of self-care - not to mention that lots of research links mindful eating to weight loss! So get back to basics, serve yourself healthful portions + really listen to your body when it tells you what it needs.
You've def heard this before - shopping from a list + sticking to it saves money at the grocery store.
Here's a few more tips to lower your bill come check out time:
🛒 Buy oatmeal in bulk ($0.13/oz) instead of boxed cereal ($0.40/oz)
🛒 Buy rice, pasta + potatoes in bulk ($0.06/oz compared to ($0.25-0.40/oz)
🛒 Buy fresh fruit ($0.05/oz) instead of chips, crackers + cookies ($0.30/oz)
🛒 Drink filtered tap water (free-ish + 0 sugar) instead of soda 12-packs ($4.99 + liquid obesity)
🛒 Substitute beans + lentil ($0.05/oz + no saturated fat) instead of meat ($0.25/oz + high saturated fat)
If you haven't checked out my Supermarket Bootcamp, I compare the purchasing prices + nutritional values of every aisle. It's totally free + you can watch it at https://zcu.io/q1fL 💯
It's SO MUCH EASIER to come home + cook a healthy dinner when you know what you're going going to cook + that you have the ingredients ahead of time - especially when you're a busy family! Just a little bit of prep goes a looooong way!
Breakfast + snacks are easy because most of us keep the same staples around, like oatmeal, whole grain cereal, crackers fruit + milk. But what about planning a menu + preparing for times when the kids have tutoring + soccer practice?
🍎 Ask family members when they like, then find simple ways to modify recipes to make them healthier
🍎 Include lots of veggies + fruit in every meal (make veggies half the plate!)
🍎 Make (or download) a grid with a row for each day of the week + columns for breakfast, lunch, snack + dinner
🍎 Fill in dinner ideas FIRST. Try to use the same cooked or chopped items a few times OR double up the amount + freeze the extra
🍎 Plan lunches. Try to use dinner leftovers
🍎 Plan snacks. Mix up fruits, veggies, dips, yogurt + fruit to keep it interesting
🍎 Plan breakfast. Find 3 breakfasts that are low fat, high fiber + protein, then rotate them to keep it interesting
🍎 Make a list of what you need to buy at the grocery store
Trying to eat healthy + exercise when family life is hectic? I have a few tips for that too;)
🏀 Make dinner + eat right after school. Yes, at 3:30 if it's 3:30! This leaves a couple of hours to digest before activities start
🏀 Make tomorrow's lunches while you make dinner. For the love of God, don't wait until after you get home for the evening or the next morning
🏀 Workout while your kids are practicing. Download an app that requires no equipment, find a small area + ignore anyone who might stare at you (they're just jealous) OR find a gym super-close to the location
🏀 Have second dinner after practice. Keep it fast + light, maybe a smaller plate of what you served earlier
Moms, do you have any other tips that work for you? Please put them in the comments!
When you have food allergies/sensitivities or a weakened immune system, eating out can be hard here in the US + we have strict labeling + sanitation laws. Eating while traveling internationally, where the regulations aren't as helpful, can be even more difficult.
Here are a few tips to help you take care of your body as you take care of your wanderlust:
🌎 Let the airline know if you have any allergies
🌎 Learn how to read + communicate your allergy in the native language
🌎 Research traditional ingredients + staple meals of your destination
🌎 Don't be shy! Ask about ingredients + cooking methods when unsure
🌎 Bring non-perishable snacks with you. Focus on items that are high in fiber + protein
🌎 Drink water + other beverages from bottled + sealed containers. Use ice only from bottled or disinfected water. Avoid tap or well water + fountain drinks made with tap or well water
🌎 Avoid foods commonly linked to food poisoning - flavored ice, unpasteurized dairy products, bushmeats, food served at room temperature, raw/undercooked meat or fish, raw or soft eggs, unwashed or peeled veggies + fruit, and raw salads
🌎 Stick to what's safe to eat - pasteurized dairy products, dry bread or crackers, hard-cooked eggs, cooked food served hot, food from sealed packages, veggies + fruit that YOU have washed or peeled, hot coffee + tea
🌎 When eating street food, talk to the locals + ask for references. Observe general cleanliness. Choose vendors that have a lot of customers + avoid those where the same person serving food is handling money
How much time + money does it cost to keep running to the store or going out to eat because don't have what you need or want in your pantry to eat at home?
Here's an easy list of healthy basics for get you through when hunger + cravings smack you in the face + catch you without a plan (gasp!).
Frozen, canned + dried fruit:
🍒 Frozen fruits are delish in baked desserts + add a nice nutrient profile
🍒 Canned fruits in fruit juice (NOT SYRUP) make great dessert
🍒 Dried fruit livens up salads, rice + pasta dishes
Frozen + canned veggies
🥕 Frozen medleys + chopped onion are huge timesavers
🥕 Canned tomatoes (with no added salt!) add lots of flavor from a single can
Canned, quick + frozen protein
🥔 Canned tuna, salmon + sardines (my fave!) power-up salads
🥔 Canned beans add tons of fiber + nutrients to every meal
🥔 Split peas + lentils cook quickly + don't need any soaking time
🥔 Veggie burgers make quick, healthy + yummy meals
🍚 Instant brown rice cooks in only 5-10 minutes. Make large batches + freeze small portions to microwave later
🍚 Small pastas all cook quickly + often don't need to be boiled or drained first
🍚 Whole wheat pitas + tortilla can make wraps, personal pizzas, or be toasted + piled onto salads
🍚 Barley cooks super-fast + is great in soups, risottos + pilafs
🧀 Greek yogurt makes a great topping
🧀 Vanilla yogurt makes a perfect dressing for sweet salads or a dessert sauce
🧀 A little bit of parmesan cheese packs tons of flavor into small servings
If you're generally healthy, foodborne illness prob won't kill you but will def ruin your day. But if your immune system is comprised for any reason, it's very important to be very careful. ❤️
Here's a short refresher on basic home food safety:
🚨 Wash your hands with warm/hot water for 20 seconds before handling food + after handling meat
🚨 Invest in a good tip-sensitive food thermometer + ensure that all food is cooked + reheated to the recommended minimum internal temperatures
🚨 Keep your refrigerator below 40*F + your freezer as close to 0 as possible
🚨 Buy several dishwasher safe cutting boards + designate different colors for different foods
🚨 Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours
🚨 Eat, freeze or throw out leftovers after 4 days
🚨 Keep eggs + dairy in the main part of the fridge, not the door
🚨 Replace your sponge often. Let it dry completely after use. To disinfect, wash in the dishwasher, or soak in 1 cup hot water, 1/2 cup white vinegar + 3 tbsp salt - DO NOT MICROWAVE
If I could share 1 piece of advice about how to make family mealtime successful, it's this - make the meals so delicious + so ingrained in your routine that everyone is happy to come to the table - elaborate or home-cooked meals optional.
Here are some tips on how to create loving + meaningful experiences with food:
🌟 Involve the whole family in grocery shopping. Ask them to find the ripest tomato, or pick out the best fruit, or push the cart
🌟 Enlist help preparing meals
🌟 Keep emergency meal ingredients on-hand for when your plans go to shit (as they do sometimes) - tacos, ravioli, pasta, burritos, stir fry, bowls, soups
🌟 Watch the Food Channel or go to a farmer's market together to learn about new foods
🌟 Keep yourself motivated by following foodies on Instagram, searching Pinterest for ideas, reading meal bloggers, or subscribing to a cool magazine. Try one new recipe a week!
🌟 Practicing being grateful for the ingredients, the ability to prepare them, the money you're saving, and how precious the time is with your family
🌟 Give yourself a night or two where you don't have to cook - eat leftovers, heat up something frozen, or hit the prepared section at Whole Foods
🌟 When in doubt, serve breakfast. Everyone loves breakfast + it's super easy!
It's almost impossible to wrap my mind around the amount of food wasted around the world - 1 BILLION TONS each year, according to the UN. (That's about 35% of total food produced in the world.)
The top types of food thrown away? Home-cooked leftovers, restaurant leftovers + produce when they become spoiled or stale.
Ethically, millions of people go hungry everyday. Economically, it's a waste of money. Environmentally, wasted food emits about 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gases every year (more than most countries!).
By preventing food waste at home, we save money + contribute to a healthier planet. Here are a few tips to get started:
🍌 Buy vegetables + fruit that look imperfect but are still fine to eat. Use them in soups, stir frys + smoothies
🍌 Plan your meals for the week + only buy what you plan to use
🍌 Before shopping, look in the fridge to make sure your not buying something you already have
🍌 Store perishable items in clear storage containers that allow you to see what's available + keep them out front where you see them first
🍌 Freeze bread, sliced fruit, cut-up raw veggies that you won't be able to eat before they spoil
🍌 Store bananas, apples + tomatoes by themselves, and store veggies away from fruits
🍌 Use the Foodkeeper app to learn how to store foods for max freshness
It can be damn hard to eat healthfully at restaurants + I get asked about this ALL THE TIME. Let's focus on the easiest ways to avoid getting sucked in to calorie-overload, shall we?
The basic advice has always been to eat a small salad before your entree (most come with it) + put half your meal in a doggy bag right away. That is super valuable but what are some other ways? (Remember that a woman needs ~1700 calories/day while a man needs ~2500 calories/day)
🍴 Choose lean cuts + keep portions to the size of a deck of cards (14 oz NY strip 819 calories, 12 oz sirloin 877 calories!)
🍴 Choose a small soda, unsweetened tea or water (26 oz soda 330 calories, milkshake 240-990 calories!)
🍴 Skip the bread basket (if you're really hungry you WILL stuff your face + butter has 100 calories/tbsp!)
🍴 Choose a lower calorie dessert or share a dessert with your boo
🍴 Skip all you can buffets!
🍴 Select restaurants where baked + grilled items are a specialty (avoid fried + cheese-soaked items!)
Retraining taste buds + learning/relearning to like new foods can be difficult even for adults, but it's a really simple + painless process- I promise!
Try this. Expand your palette! Experience flavor! Experience adventure! Experience novelty + variety! Don't miss out!!
😋 Taste 1: Start on a day when you're feeling happy! While you're in a good mood, prepare a very small amount of a disliked healthy food in a way that you generally otherwise enjoy. Sprinkle a few drops of EVOO or salt, if you like. SMILE + take ONLY ONE bite. Keep smiling, don't think about it too long, then just finish your meal as usual
😋 Taste 2: A day or week later, REPEAT with the same food
😋 Tastes 3-8: Over the next few days or weeks, REPEAT
By this time you've probably realized that this food isn't really all that bad, maybe you just find it tolerable, but maybe you actually LIKE IT! (If not, no biggie, keep it moving + try the next food.) The point is that YOU TRIED.