Starting something new can be scary and intimidating, especially when it comes to health. A lot of people think that being healthy means restricting calories, not being able to go out with friends, and strictly tracking your every bite. Basically all rules and no fun. WRONG! These 4 tips are here not only to debunk the “health is no fun” fear, but to embrace the beauty of discovering a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU and YOUR LIFE.
Start with a foundation of whole foods and begin to lessen refined, processed foods.
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and organic grass-fed meat, fish, and dairy. That’s it folks. There’s no need to get caught up in any fad/current diet trend that restrict what you can eat. Of course, if you have any allergies or intolerances, you avoid whatever you need to; but in general, I say to keep it simple and stick to whole foods. Eat an abundance of these foods and begin to “crowd out” refined sugar and other processed foods. You want to see a variety of colors throughout your daily diet, which will provide you are with all of your vitamins and fill your body with antioxidants! Make sure you have a balance of protein, fat, and carbs at every meal.
From this foundation, you can then experiment with your ratio of macros. I always recommend that women put a special focus on quality protein and healthy fats for optimal hormonal health, energy, and brain power. Carbs are also a necessary part of our diet, but quantity can depend on activity level, personal health history, and age. It’s also very important to be your own advocate and experiment with different ratios for yourself. It’s great to discover different ideas and information on nutrition from research, but in order to find what works for you, you will need to experiment. That being said, if you currently have or have had any serious health conditions, please see your doctor before making any major changes.
Familiarize yourself with ingredient labels.
Unless you’re buying fresh produce or fresh animal proteins like meat, fish and eggs, you’re going to want to flip that package over and get familiar with the ingredient label. Zoom past the calories and go right to where it lists all of the ingredients. You want to avoid foods that have added sugars (cane sugar, corn syrup, etc.), inflammatory oils like corn, canola, soy, and sunflower, artificial flavors, and any color such as blue 5 or red 40, for example.
Plan, prep, and pack.
Set yourself up for success by planning ahead, prepping the goods, and packing it up to take on the go! There are thousands, probably millions, of “quick, easy, and healthy” recipes online. Find some that you can meal prep with and plan ahead for your week. Then, you can pack your meals to take with you to work, school, or an impromptu picnic! Overnight oats are an amazing breakfast prep. I love a good “one pan” or “one pot” prep too! Anything to make life a little easier, less stressful right, and have less dishes right? Having healthy foods prepped to go in your fridge will help steer you away from the convenience of fast foods. Buy frozen organic veggies and cook grains in bulk. Anything to make your life and your health, feel like a joy, not a chore!
Keep it simple and take it one step at a time.
Don’t let eating healthy intimidate you! I know it can seem glamorous and almost untouchable in some cases (like IG makes eating healthy seem sometimes), but at its core, it is simple. If cutting out all processed foods right away freaks you out, DON’T. Pick one thing, maybe it’s a soda you have with lunch everyday, and drink water instead. Or perhaps it’s the bag of chips or cookies you have everyday at 3pm when the munchie monster hits. Maybe replace that snack with a fruit and nut mix, apple and nut butter, or seed crackers and guacamole. Focus on one unhealthy habit at a time. Once you begin replacing it with a healthy, happy habit, you can take the next step. My advice would be to start with replacing any snacky sources of refined sugar in your diet with fruit. Baking alternatives to refined sugar can include ingredients like local honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Keep it simple beauties, and take it one step at a time! This will ensure that you create a healthy lifestyle that is SUSTAINABLE for you!
Whether you want to start living a healthy lifestyle for the very first time, or you’re restarting for the 30th, health and happiness is something that is available to you. You deserve it! My achilles heel when it came to starting my healthy lifestyle was, and still is sometimes, being too strict with my rules around food. Being too rigid about ingredients, trying to be absolutely perfect, and having so much structure around every meal and snack made me miserable! However, light structure does wonders! What are your goals? Is there something you want to heal in your body? Maybe you just want to sleep better and have more energy to go about your day. In any case, you’ve got this! Consistency, light structure, and flavor will be your best friends in helping you achieve your goals and realize your best health. When you begin to discover health, you also begin to discover your best self. You have a whole community out here wanting you to succeed and live your best life. Get ‘em girl!!!