Today I’m going to be sharing a packed-to-the-brim post on my tips for eating healthy. I could seriously write a book about this topic, more than any other sector of health/wellness, I am passionate about nutrition. I took a few nutrition classes in college and have been subscribed to many nutrition/healthy living magazines and blogs for years on end (I know, this basically makes me an expert, right?! lol jk.). My best friend from college is a med student who has specialized in nutrition and wellness, and she also taught me a lot throughout the years. This definitely does NOT make me a nutrition guru, but I do feel like I am fairly knowledgeable and can serve as a source of inspiration for you all.
Disclaimer: Just remember that fitness/health/wellness is a personal journey; what may work for me, may not necearrisly work for you! Take my tips with a grain of salt. Everyone’s bodies and everyone’s goals are different!
First of all, I want to thank you all for your support of my last post. I highly enjoyed sharing my post on my health & fitness journey/goals. It was almost freeing for me to write that post; to share my story, my struggles, and lay out my goals for you as a way to keep myself accountable. I am hoping that this space encourages you to share your goals with me as well, so we can hold each other accountable!
Before I share my basic healthy eating tips, I’d like to share a little bit about my journey.
M Relationship with Food
Like most young ladies, I’ve struggle with my body image for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to lose weight fast and have the perfect, thin body type. Consequently, I mastered many unhealthy eating habits, particularly when I was in college. I would binge eat a bunch of junk food, then hate myself for it, and spend the next 2 hours at the gym. Or, I would go hours without eating in hopes that I could cut calories and the weight would magically fall off. I would eat unhealthy, greasy foods often because I couldn’t control my cravings and wondered why depriving my body of calories wasn’t the cure-all to my problems. It makes me very sad as I type this paragraph, because I can remember how insecure and lost I felt. It was not a good place to be in.
There is a happy ending! I am MUCH healthier now, physically, emotionally, and mostly, spiritually. In my last blog about my fitness journey, I shared that most of my self-care and growth has centered on training my mind and becoming mentally stronger. I needed to change my thinking in order to change my unhealthy habits. It took years of work, reflecting, and trial & error. My body feels the most healthy it has ever been, and I feel more confident than ever. I am definitely not perfect nor will I ever be. I have learned that perfectionism doesn’t exist, and that I have to appreciate the healthy, hard-working body that I was given, because some people do not have the luxury of having one.
Ultimately, my relationship with food has changed drastically over the years. I used to look at food as the enemy. It was something that I would gloriously indulge in, and then hate myself later for it. Now, I look at food as fuel. Food fuels me and gives me energy. Food is fun to prepare, and I love learning about the benefits it does for my body. It is NOT the enemy; it is anything but the enemy.
Here are my general tips on how to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle!
Keep a food diary.
Wow, I cannot recommend this tip enough! Keeping a food diary has greatly helped me see the unhealthy eating patterns/habits I had. For example, I always knew that I had a sweet tooth, but I didn’t notice how OFTEN these cravings occurred and how MUCH I gave into these cravings. I also noticed that by keeping a food diary, I was more likely to hold myself accountable and stay strong in not giving in to those cravings!
Strive to eat whole, real foods.
My goal is to eat as clean as possible, and to live a 80/20 lifestyle. I strive to eat real, whole foods. This means I eat lots of fruits, veggies, eggs, and meat. I try not to eat bread, processed snacks/foods, and dairy. This is just a personal choice because I found that once I cut these foods out, I had less stomachaches, headaches, and allergy issues.
Kick the diet to the curb.
I don’t believe in diets. I believe a healthy lifestyle includes everything in moderation. I think food is meant to be enjoyed, especially in the company of others. I try to live a balanced lifestyle, and to limit my portions when I choose to indulge in unhealthy foods.
Plan ahead for cravings.
Speaking of cravings, plan for them, because they WILL happen! I always keep healthy snacks in my purse for times when I have to go an extended period of time without a healthy meal. This will majorly save you from an impulse run to McDonalds!! Favorite snacks include a small sandwich baggie of assorted nuts, an apple, or turkey sausage links.
The next best thing you can do to ward off a craving is to go for a walk or get active. Endorphins and moving will remind you WHY you don’t need that junk food. If this isn’t an option (i.e. maybe it’s late at night, dark outside, you’re really sleepy, etc.) do something to take your mind off the craving, whether it’s doing a load of laundry, taking a shower, texting your sister about how you won’t give into the craving, whatever! Just get your mind off it, and think about how crappy you’ll feel if you give in!
Never grocery shop on an empty stomach.
I have been guilty of doing this so many times. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought a family size bag of sour cream & onion potato chips (my biggest weakness!) and finished half the bag on the car ride home. (totally guilty….) Just don’t ever go grocery shopping when you are hungry! Very, very, VERY bad things will occur!!! In fact, I don’t even buy unhealthy snacks because I know that if they are physically inside my house, I WILL eat them!! But hey, if the junk food isn’t in my cupboards, it’s hard to eat these foods.
Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
I used to eat a very late breakfast, usually around 11am, HOURS after waking. I recently started eating breakfast within an hour of waking up, and I seriously feel like it has been a game-changer for me. I always hear fitness experts say how important it is to eat breakfast right when you wake up to jump-start your metabolism, and I cannot stress this enough. A typical breakfast for me is an egg white omelet mixed with spinach or roasted asparagus and onions, with a small handful of berries on the side. I always make sure I start my day with lots of protein! I also like to incorporate veggies in my breakfast because it’s the quickest and easiest way to sneak them in.
Peer pressure is real. But you are an adult, and you are in control.
You may “feel” like you don’t have the control to make healthy decisions when your coworkers are going out, or when Margie brings her famous chocolate chip cookies to work and offers you one during lunch break. Trust me, I KNOW THE STRUGGLE. But you’re a big girl. It’s as simple as saying, “No, thanks!” You don’t owe anyone an explanation. And if people judge, that is their deal, not yours. It gets easier with practice to avoid the cravings the more you say “no.”
Celebrate your wins.
Okay, I’ll admit that I probably don’t eat as healthy as Jillian Michaels, but I eat a hell of a lot healthier than I did even last year. I’m able to control my cravings much better, and I don’t buy nearly half the crap I used to while grocery shopping. That being said, it’s important to celebrate your growth. Remember, healthy living is a journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Enjoy your life. Find balance.
The reason why you should want to eat healthy is to BE healthy. Yes, I know that you may have goals to lose inches, weight, to look hot for swimsuit season, etc, and so do I. But don’t forget that your body is a temple, and you should want to put healthy foods in your body because they will serve you by fighting cancer, illness, and extend your life longevity. That being said, you will not always make healthy eating choices, and that’s okay! Live your life and enjoy it. Have the brownie at the family cookout, but don’t go for seconds. Have some drinks out with your friends, but skip the late night pizza after. Life is all about balance. And my God, DO NOT starve yourself because trust me….it does not work.
If you take anything from this blog post, I want you guys to remember that healthy eating is a JOURNEY. You WILL make bad eating choices. You will screw up. You WILL overindulge. But that’s okay- you are HUMAN. You deserve to cut yourself some slack. So be kind to yourself, and remember that if you go off course with your eating goals, it’s not the end of the world. You can get back on track just as quickly as you went off track! I believe in you!