Eating well doesn’t need to be complicated. So many of us have gotten into the habit of dissecting foods into categories, relying on counting calories or nutrients to reflect the ‘goodness’ of a meal. But that style of eating is completely unnatural. A good meal is so much more than that – one of the most basic and fulfilling pleasures we have – and it is meant to be enjoyed. So here are a few simple, tried & true food guidelines I live by!
- Simple is best – When you choose fresh and seasonal ingredients, there is no need to complicate things – those foods shine all on their own. Good food, grown with care is bursting with flavour and nutrients, so make the local farmers market your friend and challenge yourself to make meals at home using 5 ingredients or less. I am willing to bet you’ll be surprised how satisfying these meals are. Gravitating towards simpler meals benefits your digestive system too, requiring less digestive resources and energy for meals to be converted into useable nutrients and fuel,ultimately freeing up energy for other things – like growth and repair of cells to create a healthier and more vibrant you.
- Eat a variety of plant based foods – I think one of the biggest misconceptions regarding a vegetarian or vegan diet is that you inherently have to “go without” something. That, my friends is a glass half empty approach because in reality, once you start relying less on animal products to fill up more than half your plate and focus on incorporating nutrient dense, colourful and fresh plant foods – a world of endless flavours and ingredients opens up around you. Plus – a diet of varying foods is nutritionally beneficial, bringing together a broad mix of vitamins and minerals – hitting all the major nutrient food groups. So challenge yourself to cook with a new fruit, vegetable, nut or legume each week. Because that’s really what cooking is all about – experimenting. Don’t be afraid to get creative – you never know what it may spark.
- Throw out anything refine or processed – I am huge fan of Michael Pollan’s work and in his book “In Defense of Food” one of the things he mentioned that resonated deeply with me was “if it consists of plants – eat it, if it was made by plants – don’t.” Make that your new mantra because the truth of the matter is anything from a box, bag or can most likely contains too much fat, sugar & sodium, not to mention all the other preservatives and additives food manufacturers add. Food companies rely on science to understand how we’re attracted to food and how they can make their foods attractive to us as consumers. (If you haven’t watched Sugar Coated or The Secrets of Sugar, you need to) It’s scary stuff! Best if you just avoid it altogether.
- Cook your meals at home – Cooking from scratch allows us to use natural, fresh ingredients and control exactly what is in each and every meal. No secret ingredients, no guessing – just real food. For more on this, take a peek at this article I wrote a few weeks back.
- Try and eat a smoothie and salad everyday – Even if you ate crap foods the rest of the day, at least you would have these pillars of nutrients to fall back on. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you should eat Wendy’s for every meal in between a smoothie and a salad but what I am saying is that these doses of greens, fruits and veg throughout the day will energize and allow you to take note of the difference incorporating wholesome foods into your diet makes. Eventually over time, those two meals with turn into three and then four, leaving less and less room for fake foods.
- Be flexible – In my experience Im happiest when I’m not dwelling over the food I ate – you were craving a treat and went for it? Might as well enjoy it right?? Take pleasure in the indulgence rather than weighing yourself down with guilt. Be confident in your diet and lifestyle plan, knowing that one treat won’t lead you to fall off the wagon. When healthy habits are engrained, indulging every once in a while is less of a problem.