There's a HUGE misconception with eating healthy today. Individuals who are trying to become healthy from the inside out are commonly viewed as "dieters". It should be viewed less about dieting, and more about going back to the basics, in an effort to prevent disease and promote a healthy weight.
Follow these 3 tips to sustain a lifelong focus on health & nutrition.
READ LABELS: Let’s face it, when I would have just a few minuets in between patients, the vending machine was sometimes the only option to keep my stomach from making embarrassing whale noises into my next patients ears. But when it comes to quick, cheap, & convenient foods, ALWAYS look at the nutrition labels so you know exactly what you're putting into your body. Even foods that are marketed as "health" food (like granola, trail mix, or fat free yogurt) will actually keep you from advancing towards your fitness goals. In fact, many flavored yogurts have upwards of 15 grams of sugar in that tiny 6-ounce serving! My advice? Buy plain, fat-free Greek yogurt and flavor it yourself with some fresh fruit or even a small drizzle of honey. That way you know you're not consuming as many teaspoons of sugar as a package of Gushers! Try to mentally (or actually log) the amount of sugar you are in taking- it might surprise you the foods that have added sugar to make it more tasty to the consumer. Scary!
CHOSE WHOLE FOODS: No, not the Whole Foods grocery store (even though I love that place). I'm talking about eating foods in their most natural state- some think this is actually the most important principle of clean eating. That means opting for oranges over orange juice, or sprouted wheat over processed white bread. How do you know if you're eating whole foods? Well, it's pretty simple. Does the food come from a natural source or is it made in the lab? My helpful hint is to do the bulk of your grocery shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the aisles. If you're consistently eating foods from wrappers most likely you're not consuming whole nutrition. Eating habits centered around whole foods contain foods that are naturally high in fiber (like fruit, veggies, & whole grains). Research shows these foods can reduce inflammation which effects a multitude of systemic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease, while also helping to regulate your weight!
CONQUER THE KITCHEN: I've heard it all before: Eating clean is too costly & labor-intensive! I agree after a long day at work, taking a trip through the drive through might seem like the easiest option BUT you’re more likely to be eating over-processed, higher-calorie foods. If you plan ahead & have your kitchen properly stocked with ingredients, you can whip up a healthy meal in the time. Here's a cost comparison from the Netflix documentary "Fed Up" for a family of four. We all know the obvious nutritious choice (even though our minds might be craving the burgers & fries).
Preparing your own clean meals might take some getting used to, all you need is a little knowledge up front about nutrition and finding the right foods. If you're not a fan of an ingredient (like kale, or sweet potatoes) don't force it! There are so many other healthy foods out there; I promise you’ll find plenty that you like.