Nutrition and diet information is everywhere!
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
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
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important if not more so. Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy and vitality for everyone.
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat (if you desire) but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat. Quality matters!
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” and “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
1) A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
2) Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism)
3) 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
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 and eating on the go? Not properly chewing your food? And possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?
Firstly, when it comes to how you eat, let's 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. Put the utensils down between bites.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes to break down your food.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. 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.
Secondly, have you ever considered drinking your food?
Yes, I am talking about smoothies! Smoothies can be an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get some fruits and veggies into your diet. It's already in a liquid form so your body doesn't have to work very hard to break it down and absorb the nutrients. But don't gulp it down too fast. Drink it slowly so you feel full and treat it as a whole meal, not just a snack. If your smoothies don't seem to fill you up try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds. And I would only suggest having one smoothie per day as a meal (unless you are doing a detox or cleanse) breakfast is usually a nice place to start.
Give my Green Smoothie Challenge a try!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruits or seeds to match your preference.
Tip: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it, choosing fresh plant based whole foods when possible.
This will help to improve digestion, encourage weight loss (if needed), and improve your overall relationship with food.