Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My top 5 diet tips: healthy body, fit frame

Healthy eating is a lifestyle for me, not a "diet." And this lifestyle choice does more than keep my body trim. My diet choices (and yours) are invariably related to energy levels, sleep, mood, cognitive ability, productivity, quality of life and most importantly, the general health of my insides.

So, what does healthy eating look like for me? Here's my diet boiled down into five general tips: 

1. Eat food in its natural form (or as close to it as possible)- We've all heard this one. Focus your diet on whole foods (think lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein), cutting out processed food and empty calories. Yes, eating whole foods requires more time and effort, but it is a habit that can be formed like any other and so worth the adjustment. My meals are freshly prepared (or leftovers of freshly prepared foods) with an occasional minimally processed snack (e.g. Lara Bars or Nut crackers with hummus).

2. Eat in/take out/carry snacks- This is a continuation of #1, really. I stick to my whole foods diet by eating meals at home, taking meals with me (for work, travel, outings), and always carrying snacks in my bag to avoid over-hungry-I-need-food-and-will-eat-anything situations from occurring. I rarely leave the house without a bottle of water, a Lara Bar, a bag of nuts, or piece of fruit.

3. Splurge mindfully- Because, we all need treats once in a while. I am no exception! But, you're not going to find run-of-the-mill dessert items in my house. During the summer months, you will often find a container of Coconut Bliss "ice Cream" (dairy-free and made with agave syrup instead of sugar) that I like to eat covered in fresh strawberries and/or blueberries. And during the winter months, you will often find me baking gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies made with unbleached flours and dairy-free coconut spread.

4. Avoid dairy- I know, I know. Most people want nothing to do with avoiding dairy. I admit, it is ridiculously delicious. But, I can tell you that there is a 10-15 pound difference in my body weight when I include dairy as a regular part of my diet versus not. What's more, humans do not need dairy. It is the breast milk of another animal species, and we were not built to consume it. There are plenty of ways to get all the vitamins and minerals (calcium included) that you need without it. That said, there are also plenty of ways to make your food delicious without dairy. Some of my favorite non-dairy finds include: Earth Balance Coconut Spread, Bliss Coconut products, and Daiya Mozzarella shredded cheese.

5. Eat healthy fats- I discussed this briefly here. Healthy fats not only benefit the health of your body enormously, but they also help fill you up and stave off cravings for less healthy foods. Craving a hamburger with fries? Try a salad topped with avocado and olive oil (find the recipe for my Big Salad, chock full of healthy fats, here). Good examples of healthy fats include: avocado, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, and fish.

Happy eating, folks!

*Wellness Wednesday disclosure: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or personal trainer. These posts are not meant to replace professional help in any of these areas. Be sure to consult an expert before making drastic changes in your health or fitness routine.

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