When it comes to maintaining optimal health and weight, I focus heavily on building sustainable habits and a healthy relationship with food for both myself and my clients. However, there is still the issue of what foods should actually be going into your mouth. This is a nutrition blog after all!
It’s important to note that I’m not addressing here the amount of food you should be eating (not too much or too little) or the manner in which you eat (slowly, mindfully, and chewing each bite thoroughly) even though those two things are absolutely crucial. This is solely about the stuff on your plate.
Simplicity is key
I’m all about keeping things as simple as possible. The more you complicate your diet, the more likely you are to fail. Besides, there’s no reason to get caught up in the details (precise macros, meal timing, supplements, etc.) if you haven’t nailed down the basics.
Take a look at the following list. These are the six basics of nutrition that optimize appetite satisfaction and sustainability.
Include one palm-sized serving of protein at each meal, or about 30-40 grams. Protein keeps you fuller for longer, stabilizes your blood sugar (and therefore your energy and moods), and is necessary for optimal health.
Include 2-3 fist-sized servings of veggies at each meal. Vegetables provide us with the vitamins and minerals we need as well as keep us fuller for longer.
Include carbs and fat as needed. In each meal you should prioritize protein and veggies first, and then add just enough carbs and fat to leave you feeling satisfied after a meal. The key word here is satisfied, not stuffed! You should feel like you could workout comfortably about two hours post-meal.
Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Do I need to elaborate on this? Water is literally life. Everything functions better when we’re hydrated, and it helps minimize overeating and consumption of liquid calories.
Eat mostly whole foods. This includes minimally processed meats, fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, etc. Whole foods generally contain the most nutrients and keep us fuller for longer.
Include “treats” in moderation. Yes, you read that correctly. Intentionally include the not-so-nutritious foods you love in your diet. To have a successful and sustainable diet, it’s essential that you don’t feel deprived. Restricting the foods you love will cause overeating and unhealthy food obsessions. You can absolutely lose weight and maintain great health while enjoying some pizza and beer every now and then!
So before you throw yourself into the next fad diet or program, check your current eating habits against these six things. There’s no reason to waste your time and sanity trying to adjust all the small details unless you can honestly say you practice these things 80% of the time. The other 20% is the wiggle room that allows us to have foods that may not be as nutritious or filling but bring us pleasure and enjoyment.
I challenge you now to choose one (just one!) thing from this list and implement it for the next two weeks. What will yours be?