Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated! A quick search for “healthy diet” on Google will give you thousands of different diets on how to lose weight or get healthier. Of those thousands of diets and tips, hardly any two will agree! How in the world is a person truly wanting to eat better to interpret all those mixed messages out there?! That’s one of the reasons I became a Registered Dietitian; I wanted to help people learn how to eat healthy.
I love this quote “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” by Michael Pollan because it really simplifies the concept of eating well. To expand on this philosophy that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, here are a few guidelines I follow for my own diet:
1. Eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. I try to eat at least one salad a day!
2. Buy as much produce locally as possible. If I can’t get it at the Farmers Market, I buy mostly organic – especially when buying milk, cheese, and yogurt. Follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 Rule for produce!
3. Choose organic or locally raised meat. I have been a pescatarian (I eat fish!) for about 4 years now, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up meat. (That was more of a personal choice.) I still include fish in my diet because they are an important source of heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids – tuna and salmon in particular are great sources! (For more of my thoughts on organic food!)
4. Learn to love whole grains! Oats, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wheat berries, and more are high fiber grains that are great for your heart! Oatmeal is such a versatile and healthy breakfast option – I eat it at least 2 or 3 times a week.
5. Limit sweets. I have an awful sweet tooth! So, I’ve learned that it is best to not keep sweets around the house where they are easy to overeat. Instead, I let myself indulge once or twice over the weekend on my favorite treats and really savor them!
6. When purchasing packaged foods, the fewer ingredients – the better! When possible, I try to keep buy foods with ~10 or less ingredients, and avoid any with a lot of added sugar, preservatives, or food dye. Of course, the best foods are those that have no label!
7. Incorporate lots of plant-based protein sources. I still need to get better at this one, but I always try to have at least one serving of lentils, nuts, beans, or seitan/soy every day.
8. Full fat dairy is fine with me! This was a more recent switch (with encouragement from my RD boyfriend). Part of the reason I went with whole fat is that I was told I already have a borderline low bone mineral density and the extra fat in full fat dairy helps with absorption of Vitamin D (a fat soluble vitamin).
9. Keep healthy snacks on hand. The best snacks to keep handy are those that provide not only some carbohydrates, but a little bit of protein too. Protein is better at making you feel satisfied longer. Some snack options I have on hand: apples and nut butter, trail mix, cereal and milk, hummus and vegetables, or yogurt.
10. If you overindulge one meal or one day, don’t let it get you down. Instead, start the next meal or breakfast the next day making healthy choices again.