It is no secret every year a new diet trend pops up advertised to be the “best for weight loss” or “secret to anti aging.” Regardless of how it is packaged, I know a diet when I see one! These trendy diets aren’t bad. I just wonder if they lead us astray from focusing on sustainable, healthy eating that works for our individual bodies. That is why I’m so happy March is National Nutrition Month®️, campaigning the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating habits. You heard it right! Ladies, we do not need diets to be healthy; we need new habits. If you want to feel your best without sacrificing an arm and a leg, here are four tips for you to eat healthy without dieting.
Count Ingredients, Not Calories
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if a product’s ingredient list looks like your to do list, put it back on the shelf. Quality over quantity, always. This is an easy tip to help gauge what is good quality and what is just junk. I think the dietitians repping National Nutrition Month®️ would also agree! If a product has a laundry list of ingredients (half of which you can’t pronounce), at that point it is just a science experiment. Take protein bars for example. They are a staple dieting food known to be a healthier snack alternative. However, did you know most store bought bars contain anywhere from 10 to 30 processed ingredients? Some of them include maltitol syrup, sucralose, maltodextrin, corn syrup and polydextrose. All are fancy names for lab made sugar with zero nutritional value. These ingredients spike blood sugar making you hungrier and can cause digestive issues. Compare that to a LaraBar which is made with 2 whole food ingredients: cashews and dates. Did I mention they are delicious too? Our first suggestion for you to eat healthy without dieting? Become an expert at reading the label for healthy eating! If you are curious to learn more about reading ingredient labels and what’s in your food, here’s a great resource to start.
Ditch Processed Vegetable Oils
At first glance we may not understand what processed oils are. After all, the huge low fat dieting craze of the ‘80s and ‘90s convinced America that margarine and vegetable oils were essential for healthy eating. Yet that is far from the truth! Processed vegetable oils are incredibly fragile, and often go rancid after the chemical and heat heavy manufacturing process. This process makes these oils inflammatory to the body and creates free radical oxidation, which can lead to cardiovascular risks. Vegetable oils are also high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which in access can contribute to inflammation.
Processed vegetable oils include:
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Vegetable oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower/ Sunflower oil
Unfortunately these oils are SO hard to avoid. They are used in almost every restaurant! I say don’t sweat it when you are out for happy hour though. When cooking at home, a great way for you to eat healthy without dieting is to choose less processed fats. Can’t believe it’s not butter? No thanks! Let’s stick to the real thing.
Healthy fats to cook with:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed butter and ghee
- Avocado oil
Bump Up The Color!
National Nutrition Month®️ agrees, a diverse diet is a great way for you to eat healthy without dieting! But I am sad to report that no, Cheez-Its do not count for eating more of the color orange. Dang it! In all seriousness, did you know that different colors of fruits and vegetables have different benefits? Blue and purple foods are fantastic for brain health. Dark green foods can help protect from cancer and improve immunity. Orange and yellow foods are notorious for skin, eye and bone health. Each color comes with a package of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for fighting environmental damage from pollutants we encounter every day. So if you are stuck on what to eat without dieting, bump up the color. Aim for 2 to 3 different shades per meal. Try incorporating foods like purple cabbage, red and orange bell peppers, kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cauliflower, pomegranates and beets for a pop of color with added nutrition!
Eat A Palm Of Protein At Every Meal
We have talked about fat, fruits and veggies. What about protein? Often I see women swinging on both sides of the pendulum when dieting. They are eating way too much protein, or not enough. Healthy eating means finding a balance which is something Nation Nutrition Month®️ promotes. Aside from building muscles you work hard for in the gym, protein breaks down to amino acids which play vital roles in our health. Amino acids aid in hormone production, regulating the immune system and even making certain neuro-transmitters like serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been shown to increase depressive moods and sleep disturbances. If we are not getting the proper amino acids from what we eat, we could be doing ourselves a disservice. Try this out for size!. At every meal, eat a piece of protein about the size of the inside of your palm (excluding the fingers). Depending on the size of your palm and type of protein you eat, this should get you anywhere from 20 to 35 grams of protein per meal and adequate levels of amino acids. Some of my favorite proteins are grass fed beef, organic chicken, wild caught salmon, bison, pasture raised eggs and wild caught sardines (hey, don’t knock it ‘till you try it!)
Healthy eating does not have to be hard, but it sure is easy to overthink. With all the diets getting pushed to us on TV and in magazines, no wonder so many women are confused on what to eat. But you don’t have to diet to feel and look your best. Go back to the basics! See food as fuel, get enough protein, avoid what’s processed and eat the rainbow. It’s that easy to get started! How are you celebrating National Nutrition Month®️? We would love to hear from you!