I know the New Year is the time when people are more committed to taking control of their health. Last year I shared these 18 nutrition rules and people really loved them. You can easily incorporate these nutrition rules to your daily nutrition and lifestyle plan. Incorporate a few of these rules at a time so it will be easier to make it a daily practice.
I have added some information on portion size since, for most people, portion and how much to eat is a struggle. Though you can eat more of healthy, whole unprocessed foods you still want to pay attention to how much food your body needs.
Here’s to a healthier you in 2018 and beyond!
18 Nutrition “Rules” to Look Better, Feel Better and Have More Energy
1. Eat a vegetable and/or fruit with each meal. Often people talk about certain fruits and veggies being “off limits” but that, well, makes no sense. There are NO bad veggies and fruits. Some are ‘A’ players and others more ancillary, but none are inherently “bad.” Eat ones that are darker in color, like berries & leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, etc.
2. Eat Breakfast Daily. While intermittent fasting is getting popular with some, the majority of clients I work with would benefit from eating breakfast regularly. The key is a quality breakfast — making sure it has some protein, some veggies or fruit, and little to no added sugar. Research suggests the right fuel will give you more energy, improve your mental function, and will help you eat less overall during the day. Here is my complimentary E-guide with 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas.
3. Include protein with each meal & snack. Protein helps fill you up, provides the amino acids you need to function and recover, and since there is not a “storage” place for protein in your body, frequent feedings help provide what’s needed by your body regularly. It’s particularly important in the first meal of the day since you’ve been fasted for 7+ hours.
4. Drink 2 Cups of Water Before EACH Meal. Dr. Brenda Davy and her Team at VA Tech found that when people drank 2 cups of water before each meal, they ate less overall and lost more weight at the end of the 12-week study. Everything else was the same. Water helps fill you up.
5. Don’t Drink Your Calories. Piggybacking on #4, note that water is what’s suggested. Not soda, Sweet tea, fruit punches or anything else along those lines. Americans drink about 450 calories each day. Replace this single source of calories with water and it could mean nearly a 50 lb weight loss after 1 year. Seriously.
6. Think Fiber. Carbohydrates get a bad wrap. From the very low carb diets, to the celebrities who go “gluten free” to lose weight. It’s not about carbs. It’s about quality. And focusing on fiber will help. Focus on whole grains – quinoa, barley, Farro and the like — and you’ll get loads of fiber and vitamins that are important for you. Aim for a minimum of 25 grams daily.
7. More is Not Better. Fiber is good. Around 25 grams is good like I said in #6 — it doesn’t mean if 25 is good, 100 is better. You won’t leave the bathroom and you’ll have no friends because when you’re around them, you’ll be too gassy, bloated and uncomfortable. Protein is good. Water is good. Vitamins and minerals are necessary. Don’t be extreme.
8. Take Fish Oil. I am not a huge supplement pusher, by any means. I do think fish oil would benefit everyone. And, in fact, one study out of Harvard showed there are up to 96,000 deaths per year from low omega-3 intakes. I take Nutrametrix Omega 3’s so I can get what I need from only 2 capsules, not 6.
9. Everything Works. Change works. The novelty of change works. The key, though, is to change your habits so you’re not jumping from diet to diet trying to find the next, best and greatest ‘thing.’ You shouldn’t have to “change” when you follow simple, sound principles and practice good habits.
10. Eat Beans. Beans are a great source of carbohydrate (see #6), super high in fiber, a decent source of protein and help fill you. They’re also packed with various vitamins and minerals. Aim for 1-2 servings daily.
11. Plan Ahead. While not about a specific food, per se, it does change your food choices. Fail to plan and plan to fail. Make a menu on a weekend and grocery list from that menu. This is maybe the most important rule out of any of them. I promise you, planning ahead will completely transform you mentally and physically.
12. Eat Frequently. That can be 4 times per day or even 5 times per day. Do what works for you, within your schedule. What we do know is eating consistently is important so you aren’t left without a plan and when very hungry, quickly turn to fast food or another “quick fix.” The key is planning ahead.
13. Make Veggies/Fruit the Base of Your Meal. This goes with #1. When you do this, you’ll eat more of them. Here’s an example. Want some oatmeal with blueberries? Great — fill the bowl with blueberries, first, then top with oats. Making chicken stir fry? Have veggies as the base (vs. rice or noodles), then add the chicken on top. This is a simple way to bump up that produce intake and decrease your less healthy carb intake.
14. Have Most of Your Carbs Come from Veggies/Fruit. Have I hammered this one home enough, yet? These both provide carbs (along with a ton of other nutrients). They’re where most of your carbs should come from. Make the switch and notice the difference.
15. Dessert is a Sometimes Thing. I’m all about dessert. Sometimes. You don’t need a sweet every night after dinner. Make it special by having it occasionally and enjoying a quality dessert. Eat real ice cream, no sugar free, fat free, flavor free chemicals. Occasionally. Same thing goes for any other dessert. Eat small portions of the real thing once in awhile. Remember, “how much and how often in 7 days.”
16. Don’t Use Added Sugar. Funny to list this after talking about eating dessert, but again, that is only occasionally. Overall we add way too much sugar to our foods, over double what’s recommended. If you think a food is bland, find an alternative to boost flavor or find a more flavorful food. Sugar shouldn’t be that alternative.
17. Supplements are Compliments. Don’t ask what supplements you should take if you didn’t eat breakfast, you are going to grab fast food for lunch, then meet friends out for drinks later. Supplements compliment a quality diet. They don’t replace or make up for a poor diet. I believe most people need the basics like a good quality multivitamin, probiotics and fish oil. Taking fish oil (#8) — omega 3s — are good for both heart health and brain health.
18. Eat Together without TV. If you have a family, eat with them as much as possible and talk vs. being distracted by TV. One study showed just 25% of 17 year olds sat at dinner with their family regularly (sad, but true). Studies show that kids who eat with their family are healthier, happier and better students.