Eating Healthy: Some Simple Tips
Eating healthy is one of those things we all want to understand. There’s so much conflicting information out there it can become overwhelming. A lot of us have stopped absorbing the latest advice altogether as it seems to change so frequently.
I do believe that no one diet is right for everyone and this post is intended as a guide and not a prescription.
We hope it gives you an overview of healthy eating, a renewed sense of confidence in your food choices, and a spur of motivation to make even healthier choices.
How to have a healthy mindset about food
A healthy diet is one that nourishes your body and soul. Some foods we enjoy make our bodies feel good and others give us a deep sense of satisfaction depending on when we eat them and who we are with. For example, a balanced nourish bowl packed full of macro and micronutrients will make us feel good, as will cake that we enjoy when with a loved one.
When it comes to healthy vs unhealthy food, it is important to not become obsessed or restrictive. Just because something is “unhealthy” doesn’t mean it’s bad, or that you can’t eat it, or that you have to restrict it. Sometimes foods that aren’t “healthy” feel good to eat sometimes, and that’s something to lean into, not run from. This is what I meant by healthy diet is one that nourishes your soul too.
Even with clients that are seeking a transformation, I recommend doing so in a way you can sustain for life. I don’t believe in short-term or quick-fix solutions. They may get you results, but those results will be temporary and in the process, you’re not addressing the real issues that led you to desire a transformation in the first place. You don’t need to make extreme changes in your lifestyle to see results if it doesn’t feel healthy. For example, if you have a tendency to eat emotionally, drastically cutting back on food might lead you to lose weight in the short-term, but in the long-term not addressing why you emotionally eat will catch up to you and you’ll find yourself doing it again and putting the weight back on. It’s better to embark on this journey with a ton of self-compassion. The results and lifestyle change might take longer but they could last a lifetime.
In the grand scheme of things, there are no short-cuts to a healthy life.
You want to make eating healthy as easy as possible for you by being well-prepared and organised. Make making healthy choices easy.
Macronutrients are the nutrients we need the most of to go about our lives. They include fat, protein and carbohydrates. Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals that we need, but in smaller amounts.
Antioxidants are chemical compounds, that inhibit oxidation, a process in the body that produce free radicals which harm our cells.
Free radicals are harmful waste product that is produced by our cells. Antioxidants help prevent or at least slow the damage caused by free radicals in the body. Foods rich in anti-oxidants include blueberries, green tea, spinach, kale, dark chocolate and strawberries.
Healthy food vs low calorie food
Something I have seen with my clients, and something I used to struggle with myself, is combining both healthy, and low calorie foods.
Low calorie does not equal healthy, and healthy doesn’t equal low calorie. Just because a food product is marketed as low calorie (or low fat, low sugar etc) doesn’t make it healthy or healthier. In most cases, the original option is healthier as these diet options often have other additives to maintain the taste.
An example of a low calorie and unhealthy food are diet fizzy drinks.
An example of a high calorie and healthy food are avocados and olive oil.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need a balanced variety of different whole foods. A whole food is a food that hasn’t required processing to land in the supermarket. For example, a bag of quinoa or green beans is an unprocessed food. A vegetable samosa is a processed food as its prepared and packaged in a supermarket. I am not saying processed foods are “bad” and you can never eat them. I am saying you want to fill your diet with healthy whole foods and here and there, you can eat anything you want.
Healthy foods to lose weight
When eating for weight loss, you want to eat in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit means you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. And actually, this is easier than you might think. We are burning calories all the time even if we are not moving. Our heart beating, lungs breathing etc., all require energy which we get from the calories we eat. This is what you call your basal metabolic rate a.k.a BMR – the calories you burn even if you didn’t do any physical activity at all.
For your body to get the nutrients and minerals it needs you have to eat in a calorie deficit. You want to be intentional about your meals and snacks, making sure you have a healthy balance. This means eating meals that include fat, protein and carbs, as well as micronutrients.
You don’t need to count calories to lose weight. However some people find it helpful in the beginning to get an idea of what they’re eating. Generally, we know when we are eating the right amount. Eat slowly, mindfully and listen your body. We say we don’t know what our body is saying, but often we say this to cover up the truth, which is that we don’t trust ourselves and don’t want to listen. With practice, we can learn to trust what our body is telling us.
It’s never a solution to ignore your bodies nutritional needs by cutting calories, in the hopes that you will lose weight. You might lose weight, but it will be temporary and you’ll be harming your body in the process. In crash dieting, you can damage your physical and mental health quite seriously. Aside from disordered eating patterns and self-esteem issues, people with a history of yo-yo dieting often struggle to lose weight. This is because their bodies are in a state of fear and do not want to lose weight because they can’t trust that their nutritional needs will be met. This is not an uncommon phenomenon. You want your body to feel safe and to trust you to take care of it.
Foods that help with weight loss are nutritious foods with a high water content. These help you to feel full without relying on high calorie foods to do that, while giving you lots of nutrients. This is a super simple way to reduce your caloric intake without making major changes. For example, if usually you eat a large portion of pasta than feels good, you can have a smaller portion supplemented with a big pile of vegetables! Examples include cooked vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. I love to keep bags of frozen veg in the freezer so that I always have it to hand. For snacks, you can find examples of healthy and low calorie snacks you could take to work here and for even simpler ideas you can make at home, we have more ideas for you here.
Example Grocery List:
Download the full Grocery List Here
It also helps to do some research to make sure you’re nourishing yourself to the best of your ability. A good place to start is with professional medical advice, especially if you have limited experience with healthy eating, are pregnant or have any health conditions. You can always speak to your GP and the NHS website offers a comprehensive overview of a healthy diet. The MotivatePT hub has a whole section on nutrition so check that out too.
Written By Bea: Female fitness expert at MotivatePT – Reps Level 3 Qualified / Pre & Post Natal