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How To Create A Healthy Diet That You Enjoy

functional nutrition Jun 30, 2018

I spent many years of my life trying to create a healthy diet I enjoyed. Following all the diets out there didn't work for me. I just wanted a healthy diet that made sense for me, was easy to do and that I actually liked.

Like I mentioned in my post; 'How to ditch 'the perfect diet' mentality for good',  there are SO many diets out there ranging from vegan, vegetarian, raw food, paleo, keto, low carb and everything in between. And of course, proponents of each diet proclaim that they know the ticket to health, justifying their points with well researched documents and case studies. Problem is, no ONE diet ever works for everyone or anyone forever.

It wasn't until the summer of 2009, when I was out of my marriage and own my own that I finally said enough is enough. I had been on the fence for many years trying to find a healthy diet I could actually stick to. I had gone through a huge life transition after a volatile marriage ended and I finally felt safe, ready to do my own thing and commit to it.

I finally just decided to eat real food and learn about the quality of food as well as just some basic healthy eating principles.

That summer, I went all in. Cleaned out my cupboards and pantry and made the transition to real whole foods and ditched all the processed foods in my home. Some people may consider this radical, but I'm an all or nothing impulsive rebel that way. Not to mention, I had been waiting a long time for this day and the barrier (my ex) to me going all in on my families healthy diet was gone.

I know a lot of women struggle to figure this out too, so I'm hear to share my wisdom and tips with you; as both a woman on a mission to prioritize my health (and my families), as well as your friendly nutritional therapist.

If you feel too busy, too overwhelmed, not sure where to start or lack motivation; let me suggest you keep reading and commit to put one action towards improving what you eat on your calendar. I promise it's not hard once you break it down and give yourself permission to take baby steps vs. perfection. Always work towards your goals with a mindset of progress over perfection. You'll be much happier that way, I promise.

It's so important to create order amidst the daily/weekly chaos, to bring a state of calm and stability back into your life. Therefore healthiest diet on the planet is the one you will actually DO. So here are some basic principles to get you started, then you get to create YOUR own healthy diet that works for you!

 

1. Make the switch from processed food to whole real foods

Try Choose foods the way nature made them whenever possible versus a factory. It really is that simple. Although, I do admit we've been eating processed food for long enough now (culturally speaking) that for some people it's a bit of a learning curve

If you need more help with learning about real food and like to read there are so many great resources available, one of my favorite books is; 'Real Food' by Nina Planck. My favorite cookbook is; 'The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook', it's a complete guide and full of education in addition to the amazing recipes.

I want to empower you to creating nourishing meals without the confusion and stress so it can become a joyful experience. Feel free to check out my Healthy Breakfasts FB photo album as one resource to give you ideas. And stay tuned to my Instagram stories, as I post my meals a lot.

And better yet, if you don't want to piece meal it all together yourself from here and there; I highly recommend Real Plans. An online meal planning service that you can set up via their app. to meet your personal needs. It's my favorite meal planning service out there.

2. Eat Clean:  Organic & Non-GMO (when possible)

To me choosing organic or not choosing organic is not just about affordability, it's about self sufficiency and vitality. This in the long run ends up potentially saving money, after all  you've heard the saying; you can pay the farmer now, or pay the doctor later. 

I also feel that eating locally is also more self-sustainable and saves in energy and cost by not shipping and trucking organic produce from all around the globe, just so we can have any and every kind of food at our fingertips year round. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate convenience in many forms, I just think we've gone way to far with it and in many respects it's harming our planet. I'm looking for a balance - local as much as feasibly possible. The idea is awareness as to why eating locally when possible is important to the health of our planet and good for the local economy.

Eating locally keeps one conscious of eating what nature provides seasonally, as well as consuming fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness, thereby retaining the most nutritional value.

I like to ask questions and know just how my food was raised.  Did it get sprayed?  Was there integrative pest management used as opposed to pesticides?  Were there alternative safer methods used, such as a clay spray for peaches or other non toxic methods?

This of course is easiest done at a Farmer's Market or CSA. An important point to realize about purchasing locally, is that not all small farms are gonna be certified organic. It is difficult for many of these small farms to afford the certification to become organic even though most often they raise their produce organically. So talk to your farmer's you may find that eating locally without the organic label is just as good, if not better than store bought organic produce shipped from great distances.

If you are still on the fence regarding purchasing organic produce take a minute and consider if you really know what is going into your body when you buy conventional produce. At the very least if you simply cannot afford organic produce do yourself a favor and avoid the 'dirty dozen', which include; apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, kale/collards and blueberries.

I personally would say any berry or soft skinned stone fruit should be included. The safer choices of produce to buy conventionally, aka. 'the clean 15',  include; onions, pineapples, avocado, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms.

You can also join a CSA (community supported agriculture - local farm cooperative) for a share per year, which is another great way to see where your food is grown and help support a local farm. To find a CSA near you check out Local Harvest. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy shopping at a Farmer's Market or enjoying your weekly pick up at your local CSA ( I personally consider it therapy for my soul!).

And lastly, look for the Non-GMO label on your food products too. To keep this post brief, you can read more about what GMOs are and why to avoid them at the Non-GMO project.

You deserve better than having to eat chemicals and processed foods anymore.  More importantly than stressing if you can't do this perfectly -just do the best you can when you can.

3. Reduce Sugar & Excess Simple Carbs

I don't believe in all or nothing and I won't shame you or tell you sugar is the devil. Just choose wholesome sweeteners and keep them on the down low.

Otherwise, your energy will suffer. Sugar is an inflammatory substitution for other, healthy forms of energy. But it tastes good. So eat way less, and more whole-food versions, like raspberries or pineapple when cravings strike your sweet tooth. If you can't self-regulate with the sugar, you could have other imbalances that need to be addressed at the root. There's no need to jump on the sugar is evil bandwagon.

Also, Americans eat way too many simple carbs -it's just the truth. And it's not the best way to sustain your energy or health long term. So, just learn to switch out those processed simple carbs with superhero carbs like sweet potatoes, or brown rice, quinoa etc... Just make sure your body tolerates whatever real food starchy carbs you choose. (Meaning you don't bloat, gain weight, break out on your skin, get tired or moody after eating them).

4. Drink enough water

I can't tell you how often this seemingly obvious part of a healthy diet goes overlooked. Did you know that sometimes when you think you are hungry your body is really trying to tell you that you're thirsty. We can't afford to not stay hydrated in this day and age. There are too many toxins today for one thing. 

A very good baseline to go by is 3 quarts a day of pure filtered water, herbal tea or water heavy foods like; broths, raw fruits and veggies. And don't forget the electrolytes in your water. Your body can't properly hydrate without trace minerals.

5. Eat more veggies

I hope this one is a no-brainer! ;)

Also, try more variety of veggies. That's another reason to join a CSA or head to the Farmer's market, you'll have more options to choose from. 

Root veggies: beets, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi,
Green veggies: leafy greens of all kinds not just regular lettuce. Kale, collards, spinach swiss chard and then also any other green veggie you can think of.
Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, rutabaga.
Starchy veggies: potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga, sweet potato, yam, yuca, plaintains.

Fill your plate with veggies, veggies and more veggies! There are SO many to choose from and it's so fun to create so many different meals with all the gorgeous color and variety.

6. Eat enough (not too much or too little)

Find YOUR 'goldilocks' amount. And believe me, this will change from day to day and season to season. Just go with it.

This means you no longer have to count calories, fat or carbs. Just make sure to eat enough throughout the day to support your blood sugar, energy and moods. If your life is stressful and you tend to be a meal skipper, you could be out of touch with your hunger. If your life is overwhelming and you tend to be a food stuffer, you could be out of touch with your emotions.

It's important to find a good balance of eating just enough, that goldilocks amount that is right to sustain your energy, keep your hormones balanced so you can sleep good and have good moods.

7. Relax, Chew & Appreciate your food.

Yes, this is part of a healthy diet for sure. It's not just WHAT you eat, it's HOW you eat it.

If you eat stressed you won't digest your food. If you inhale your food without chewing it well, your stomach doesn't have teeth and your digestion will have it's work cut out.

Research shows that after the first few bites, pleasure is diminished so fully take advantage of the beginning of your meal!  The slower, the better!

The ultimate take-away I want to leave you with is:




No one else's. You do you!

I'm sure I could have added more points to my list of healthy eating principles, but I really want to keep it simple for starters. However, I will add that if after implementing all of these tips you are still struggling with how to eat a healthy diet that is right for you, let's talk! This is something I've helped hundreds of clients with over the years.

I do believe there is a time and place for an elimination diet or a therapeutic diet, but after working with hundreds of clients over the years I've found that most people just need to learn how to implement gentle nutrition with real food until it becomes a way of life.

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