Oh my gosh – nutrition, diet and weight loss info is everywhere! Especially right now. Have you ever googled something only to have it show up all over your facebook?
And each expert and association (and don’t forget that helpful aunt) tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Keto, paleo, carnivore, AIP, low fodmap – starting to feel pretty darn confused, right?
As a Health Coach specializing I meet people everyday that feel lost and confused about what direction to take. Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink matters (not just how much!)
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. quantity) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important (like quality).
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we? I encourage my coaching clients to approach this journey with a different mindset!
One that is guided by their inner nutritionist. One that helps them make decisions about their hunger, fullness, and food selections based on intuition and balanced nutrition that makes them feel good – not the latest craze.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). Vegetables, quality proteins, fibre and healthy fats keep you full and satisfied, control blood sugar and help prevent cravings.
But most of all, a healthy mindset means no black/white food rules, or perfectionism is required.
Every day you should aim for:
● A colourful array of veggies at almost every meal. The occasional serving of low carb, keto friendly fruits (did you know avocados are a fruit?!) like blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes. You need the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
● Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism). I like to search out grass-fed meats and locally sourced meats whenever possible.
● Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy meals. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, omega-3 packed fatty fish like salmon and grass-fed meats.
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe and enjoy the culinary experience.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less and being more receptive to our body’s satiety signals. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits, healthy fats and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can compromise digestion and lead to feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of collagen protein and healthy fats and fibre like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it. It’s not all about the macros.
Chia Berry Green Smoothie
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries
1 cup coconut milk
Optional: Add 1 scoop of Collagen Protein (I love this)
Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the coconut milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, berries, fats or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fibre and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.