There’s so much misinformation about nutrition and how to eat healthy nowadays. Especially in the age of Instagram influencers and websites chasing clicks for the latest and hottest trend.
That stuff is easy to sell (which is why it’s everywhere) but a waste of time and money for you.
Those magical solutions may bring you results fast, but at what cost? What did you have to go through? And did the results actually stick around? Or did you find yourself right back where you started, or even worse? Were the solutions even healthy?
Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as they all want you to believe, and you don’t have to make any massive changes to your daily nutrition to reach your goals!
In this blog, I will go over how to eat healthy by making some very small and sustainable changes you can begin making today.
Most “health guru’s” and hacky restrictive diets are all going to tell you that you aren’t allowed to eat a laundry list of certain foods, that you have to track every single food you eat, are slapping foods out of your hand that are “bad.”
Are there certain foods that we should limit more than others? Of course. But we don’t like to label any foods as bad foods, and you certain don’t have to spent the rest of your life eating nothing but low calorie meals. That negative association will cause you to connect food with punishment or restriction and can damage your relationship with food, making the whole process of healthy eating even more challenging than it already is.
For example, lets say on Saturday nights you always go out with your buddies from work, family, girlfriends, etc. and you have some delicious tacos and a drink or two. Wasn’t that a fun evening? Why should you feel any guilt about enjoying your life and bonding with those you care about over something we all love, food!
Now, could this be every meal, every day, every week? Obviously not, but if meals like this or pizza, burgers, etc. are the occasion rather than the regularity; then you are in a great place with your nutrition.
A good way to approach this to give yourself structure but still maintain flexibility is the 80/20 rule. If 80 percent of the time you are drinking enough water, eating your veggies, 3 home cooked meals a day, etc. The other 20 percent of the time you can not worry as much, if at all what you are eating, and you can do this guilt free!
One easy approach is the weekdays can be your 80 percent, and the weekends can be your 20 percent, nice and simple. The great thing is, this approach is flexible so you can alter it to fit your life week by week.
For example, lets say you usually go out for a nice meal on Saturday night, but a friend from work invited you out for a rare occasion on a random Tuesday night and you would love to go. You can basically switch your dinner plans between those two days: go enjoy yourself on that Tuesday night, and then Saturday night you can prepare a home cooked meal like you normally would on a Tuesday.
You get best of both worlds with zero guilt, and you don’t have a rigid lifestyle that most people associate with being healthy.
I know at a glance you might be a little skeptical about this approach, most of my clients are too. So let me take a second to explain why this works.
The easy answer is that most people are nowhere near 80% consistency with healthy habits. Even clients that come to me and eat well and drink their water often discover that they’re not eating as much variety in their veggies as they thought, need more water than they realized, aren’t eating enough protein etc. And that’s not even taking into account other lifestyle factors like stress or sleep. The average person falls somewhere between 10 and 60% with their habits, so that extra 20-70% will make a huge difference!
The other factor to consider is stress associated with “eating perfectly”. Most people know that stress can cause lead to weight gain and really throw a wrench in your wellness progress. Well, stress about having the perfect diet counts. Feeling like you have to eat perfectly all the time can make you feel like your balancing on the tip of a pin and any obstacle can push your over. That’s stressful! Giving yourself flexibility with the other 20% doesn’t just keep your stress and cortisol levels down, it actually makes you less likely to store fat (more about that in an upcoming article).
There’s a big misconception that eating healthy is too hard because it is so expensive. There are certainly obstacles to eating healthy, but this one is simply not true. Like the great Bill Burr once said, “go to a supermarket, they’re throwing the vegetables at you! 25 cents for a banana, get it out of here before it goes bad!”
Fresh veggies and fruit are very affordable in comparison to buying these things to be delivered or at a restaurant. Plus, you can control how you prepare them so you know exactly what all is going into it to ensure it is in line with your fitness goals.
When purchasing your protein of choice, leaner cuts of meat can be a better option on the caloric side of things, but also tend to be a bit pricier. You can consider how important this factor is not only for reaching your goals but your budget. If it’s worth it, you can save money elsewhere in your grocery shopping.
Additionally, protein sections always have a section dedicated to meats that need to be sold within the next couple of days(a clearance rack if you will) or they will have to throw them out, this is where you can find some great deals on quality meat and not compromise your budget.
It’s all about baby steps, no matter where you currently are in your path to establish healthy eating habits. That’s how we get those results to actually stick!
I am all about meeting my clients where they are, and taking the baby steps from there, not trying to force all of them into a cookie cutter routine.
So, I wanted to take one of my go to meals, chili, to demonstrate how you can take baby steps to make healthy recipes without eating over the top, unrealistically “clean”, and still eat healthy meals!
You can see that in just one meal there are so many different ways you can improve the quality of that meal and make it just one small step closer to healthy eating than it previously was.
I encourage all my clients to take this approach with all their meals/behaviors, and I want you to do the same!
Even if you are not currently in the habit of cooking at all you can apply this same concept of baby steps to ordering in or going out to eat for lunch at work.
Do you get a burger with fries and soda everyday for lunch? Lets get a cup of water as well so we can start improving your hydration, or maybe add a side salad to that meal to get some vegetables in your day.
Getting a salad with crispy chicken? Try opting for the grilled chicken instead, and then eventually going with a lighter dressing option such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar mix, etc.
The possibilities are endless! Notice how much healthier you can be without totally uprooting or disrupting your current behaviors? Notice how I am not slapping “bad” foods out of your hand, rather I am encouraging you to add more quality ones?
This is what healthy eating actually looks like, not only physically but also mentally, and will get you started on the path to change that actually lasts, not another yo-yo diet.