It’s no wonder that consumers are confused about healthy eating. If you Google search “healthy eating”, you’ll get results on anything from vegetarian diets to the USDA guidelines to paleo diets to the Mediterranean diet to the outdated food pyramid.
Nutrition is such a broad topic. All the available information can be overwhelming and often even seems to contradict itself. How do you know what foods are actually healthy?
The easiest way to eat healthy is to focus on eating protein and vegetables. That’s it! I think we often make healthy eating overcomplicated. It shouldn’t be that hard to eat healthy!
The most basic healthy eating food rules are:
Fill you plate with protein and vegetables
Include some natural fats
Keep your carbohydrate portions small
Limit junk food and sugar
Drink lots of water
When you’re preparing your meals, think about the different components that will end up on your plate. Are you including a high quality protein with breakfast, lunch, and dinner? What about snacks? How many servings of vegetables are you eating every day? How many fruits do you eat? Do you eat carbohydrates by themselves? Where does the fat in your diet come from?
Choose high quality proteins, such as: eggs, chicken, turkey, pork, ham, beef, fish, wild game, cheese, or nuts.
Include vegetables with meals. Focus on watery vegetables, such as: onions, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, romaine, kale, cabbage, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, or cucumbers.
Think about using natural sources of fats. Ask yourself if the source of the fat makes sense. Olive oil comes from olives. Avocado oil comes from avocados. Butter comes from cream from cows. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. Canola oil comes from rape seeds (look for expeller-pressed canola oil). The fat in nuts and seeds is naturally found in those foods. Some cuts of meat, like chicken thighs and bacon, naturally have fat in them - that’s what makes them taste good. Eggs come with eggs yolks. Dairy is naturally full fat. Don’t eat low fat cheese or low fat dairy products. Avoid margarine and vegetable oils. What kind of vegetables are used to make vegetable oil? Avoid corn oil, it's highly processed. Many low-fat products have added fillers and sugar to make them taste good after the fat has been removed.
Keep your servings of carbohydrates small. And choose complex carbs, like steel cut oats or a bread made with lots of nuts and seeds. Most people eat more carbs than their bodies burn. If you eat carbs by themselves, they will make your blood sugars spike and then crash, which will give you a burst of energy and then you will crash and likely crave more carbs. Eat carbs with protein. For example, eat an apple with cheese or peanut butter.
Limit junk food and sugar. Not much of an explanation needed here, but avoid eating chips, crackers, cookies, candy, cake, fast food, soda, etc as much as possible. It’s just not good for you.
If you have a sweet tooth, try to choose healthier options, like Killer Whey! or a small piece of dark chocolate with a few almonds.
And drinks lots of water. There is no exact amount of water you need to drink but you can follow these “rules of thumb” to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day or drink half your weight in ounces. So if you weight 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water a day.
But really, when it comes down to it, if you remember to focus on eating mostly protein and vegetables with meals, that’s the main thing you need to do to follow a healthy diet.