By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Is it just me, or can getting into the best shape of your life sometimes feel more confusing than a calculus equation?
The amount of information readily available in the wellness space is truly mind blowing. On top of this, so much of the data is so conflicting that it’s easy to see why some people just crumble in defeat and decide that inaction is their best course of action. One day Keto is bringing you the best results, the next day Paleo is back in style. One week celery juice is a miracle solution, the next week it’s hibiscus-infused aloe water.
Don’t even get me started on macros. When was the last time you looked down at your plate and saw: 35g of protein, 40g of carbs, and 20g of fat? While the numbers are helpful, real people see food when they look down at their plates, not recommended guidelines.
Getting healthier shouldn’t feel like rocket science or like finding a cure for a terminal illness. Let’s keep it simple, people. You with me on that?
If so, here are 5 real world food tips to help you cut through the noise and take action today towards a healthier you.
2) Become A Savvy Shopper. When it comes to eating food, it is extremely important to prioritize nutrients. Energy balance is important when it comes to gaining or losing weight, but the quality of our food truly makes a difference in our ability to function both mentally and physically on a daily basis. As we all know, eating well can come with a steep price tag (Who determined it was okay to charge $16 for a smoothie!?). It doesn’t have to be this way if you get savvy and search for cost efficient options to eat better. First off, look for cost efficient places: family run urban neighborhood fruit and veggies stores, bulk food stores, farmers markets/community supported agriculture (CSA). In these situations you will be able to source high quality nutrients without scratching your head looking at the grocery bill. Secondly, opt for cost efficient foods like in seasonal produce (usually cheaper), frozen foods & veggies, and less popular cuts of meat or plant-based proteins (beans/lentils). The more you can save, the more likely you will continuously eat healthier. Finally, consider the unit cost. Purchasing a tub of protein may seem to cost you more upfront, but when you break it down by serving size, you are saving much more money than purchasing a protein shake every day after your workout. Have you tried Naked Whey? It’s one of my favorite proteins. (I like to go with minimal and as unprocessed as I can!) If you are currently out, you should pick up some here to fuel your gains this week.
3) Always Go For The 2 for 1. Time is a limited resource, so whenever you can be more efficient, go for it. Prioritize foods that will keep for a day or 2 but not longer. I want you eating whole, nutrient-rich food, but I don’t want you stressing out in order to do so. Whenever you can, try and double up. If you are whisking up eggs for a scramble on Monday , save half and cover it up to use for an omelette on Wednesday. If you are chopping up kale for a salad, package some of it to toss into that same Wednesday morning omelette. Planning is key.
4) Make It Easy To Do “Right.” There’s no place for morality when it comes to food. Nothing is good or bad. Everything has a place in a well balanced diet, but the choices you make do bring you either closer to achieving your goals or further away. When it comes to making more of the “right” choices, your environment is huge. Make it easy for yourself by setting yourself up for success. If you want to eat more fruit, put them in a bowl on your counter where you can see them, or pre-cut & package them so that you can easily dump them into a smoothie. If you want to eat less sweets, put them in a hard to reach place or maybe even have someone hide them from you. When it comes to this stuff, out of sight means out of mind.
5) Make Meal Improvement A Game. Eating healthy should be fun, and it isn’t an all-or-nothing type of ordeal. It’s actually a continuum. Remember this and be kind to yourself. As opposed to putting immense pressure on yourself, ask yourself this one question: “How can I make this meal a little healthier?”. Maybe Monday, you can have a muffin for breakfast, then Tuesday you can adjust it by having a whole wheat muffin with some Greek yogurt. On Wednesday, ditch that same muffin and instead add granola and berries to your Greek yogurt. Each step brings you to a healthier and healthier outcome, and eventually leads to you ending up exactly where you want to be health-wise.