Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating Is Wrong (And It’s Making You Fat And Tired)
Alright, fine. I don’t actually know that everything you think you know is wrong. But hopefully you’ll stick with me and read on.
Everywhere you turn, there’s a headline that promises the holy grail of healthy eating; maybe a new, trendy way to shed 15 pounds in just 7 days! And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because thnow 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. Gotta stay under such-and-such amount of calories, right? This has gotten way too much attention because while calorie restriction can affect your weight and energy levels, it’s certainly not the holy grail of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what to have and how to have 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. 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 for everyone– and sometimes calorie restriction during the day can set you up for some intense bingeing at night (raise your hand if you’ve eaten a whole box of Mr. Christie chocolate chip cookies in one night–I certainly have).
When the obsession over calories doesn’t work in the long run, it’s not surprising. Your body obviously needs the fuel, and that’s totally fine. You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat if you like, but it’s more important to pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for fat loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack- totaling 10+ servings a day. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” or “modified” ones). There’s a reason some fats are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb specific vitamins from your veggies. Use extra virgin olive oil, avocado, camelina and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and invest in grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it– just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats, and avoiding the crappy ones.
How You Eat And Drink
Studies are definitely showing that how we eat has more of an impact than we give credence to.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you “drink” your food? Technically, for optimal digestion, your solid food should be chewed into a mushy liquid in your mouth before you swallow it–but very few of us take the time (or have the luxury of time) to do it. If you can make time to chew your food even a tad more than you do now, that’s a step in the right direction.
Now, 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 freely with your belly.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. You may know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
Smoothies can be healthy, easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong; a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. By the way, those “Real Fruit Smoothies” from McDonald’s or Tim’s don’t count as a healthy smoothie, sorry! Given how much sugar is in them, you’re better off just having some “Real Fruit Gummies” and water (not advocating that either!)
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
• 1 large handful spinach
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• 1 banana
• 1 chopped peach
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
• optional: 1/2 scoop protein powder
- Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend). Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk. Then blend, serve and enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipes for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.