With deadlines to meet, after work drinks, frequent dining out, late nights and early mornings, it's easy to forget how simple it is to take control of your health. The following healthy eating tips outline some of the simplest ways to enhance your everyday health, boost your metabolism, maintain a healthy weight, increase brain function and start feeling powerful from the inside out.
1. Start Your Day Off Right, Eat Breakfast
Eating breakfast is important for sustaining energy levels and aiding in blood sugar management. Avoid eating a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates and sugar. This just sets us up for a blood sugar roller-coaster.
Choose a healthy breakfast that is:
- high in complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, cereals, fruits, vegetables)
- high in fiber (whole grain cereals and breads, ground flax and chia)
- rich in protein (nuts, seeds, non-dairy almond or hemp milk, organic cow's milk and yogurt, eggs, quality protein powders)
- and provides good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, healthy oils like extra virgin olive, flax and coconut)
2. Don't Rely On Coffee!
Excess coffee overloads your liver, dehydrates you (coffee is a diuretic) and increases the risk of blood sugar irregularities (afternoon energy dips sound familiar?). Your liver is the body's detoxifying organ and if overloaded, your chances for disease, sluggishness and weight gain will increase. Try to decrease coffee or eliminate it altogether. There are some great coffee alternatives on the market. You can also enjoy herbal teas: dandelion root (liver detox), ginseng (energy), oolong (weight loss), green tea (concentration), and peppermint (stomach ease).
3. Stay Hydrated
This step is as easy as carrying a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you. Count how many times you fill it up. At least eight glasses of water a day will keep your energy levels high, your hunger down, your digestion smooth and your concentration sharp. When we are dehydrated, our bodies often mistake this feeling for hunger. Make sure to not drink water before meals as this can hinder digestion. Drink 20 minutes before and 60 or minutes after. Also, try and drink room temperature water because cold water increases gastrointestinal contraction and slows digestion down.
4. Decrease Packaged and Refined Foods
Most packaged goods are loaded with sugar, excess sodium, stabilizers, preservatives and Scary Seven ingredients like artificial colors and flavors. If you cannot pronounce even one ingredient, skip it! Another good rule of thumb is "the fewer the ingredients the better."
5. Eat Local, Whole Foods
How did our ancestors eat 100 years ago? Fresh meats, fish, beans, grains, nuts, seeds and fruit and veggies is what our ancestors relied on. Whole foods are the key to good health. When you're wondering what you can bring to snack on during the day, try bringing a nut bar, some fruit or sliced veggies.
6. Dine out the Smart Way
When ordering meat at a restaurant, look for words like steamed, baked, poached, roasted, broiled or grilled. Do your best to avoid foods with the words fried, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sautéed or stuffed which are good indications that the foods are high in fat and calories. If an item calls for one of these options, ask the food item to be grilled, steamed, or baked instead.
7. Limit Alcohol Intake
For every alcoholic drink you have, drink a glass of water. Alcohol dehydrates, lowers inhibitions and increases your appetite. As a rule of thumb, men should have no more than two drinks daily and females no more than one. Healthier alternatives are light beer, virgin Caesar, white wine spritzer, sparkling water or just straight up water with lots of lemon. No one needs to know your drink is non-alcoholic, just ask for it in a tumbler or whisky glass.
8. Avoid White Processed Foods
White rice, white bread, white pasta, and white sauces. White flour foods are all processed and the good fiber and nutrients are significantly reduced. Enjoy whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice and whole grains like quinoa, wild rice, millet and buckwheat instead. Go for a tomato or pesto sauce instead of white sauces which tend to be laden with saturated fat and sodium.
9. Carry Snacks With You
No matter how long you will be out for, always have a piece of fruit or a healthy protein or nut bar with you. Eating every three hours will help to keep your blood sugar steady and decrease overeating at meal times.
10. Don't Overeat
Eat until you are 'sufficiently sufficed', 80 percent full and no more. If you are still hungry after 10 minutes, then have a little bit more. Overeating not only causes weight gain, even if you are eating healthy foods, but it also slows down digestion and can lead to more serious problems like irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.
11. Increase Fruits and Vegetables
Eat 2 to 3 servings of fruit and 5 to 7 servings of vegetables each day. Think colorful, fresh and local! Be sure to eat lots of greens (kale, bok-choy, swiss chard, spinach) as these are the most nutritionally powerful foods.
12. Avoid Eating Late
Your metabolism slows down at night so you can count on anything you eat within three hours of bedtime sticking to your bones! Eating before 8 pm will allow your body to detoxify before you rest and helps get rid of unnecessary weight.
No matter how good your diet may be, no one has a perfect nutritional profile. With environmental toxins and poor soil quality so prevalent, as well work and life stresses, we may be getting appropriate nutrients in our diet. A good quality multivitamin/mineral is a must-have, along with probiotic supplementation, a B-complex vitamin (for stress, metabolism and healthy immune system) and a good quality EFA (essential fatty acid/omega 3) supplement. Look for fish oil to keep brain function high, digestion smooth, stress down, inflammation down and appetite controlled. Consult a Registered Nutritionist for more information on your nutritional profile. Every single person is different and needs a different supplementation plan to stay healthy. [Editor's Note: We are big fans of fish oil at Naturally Savvy, and our partners Nordic Naturals, Barlean's, and Carlson Laboratories all offer high-quality omega fatty acid supplements. For probiotics, try our favorite, Bio-K+]
All of the tips outlined above are relatively easy to implement in your life, regardless of how busy it might be. Just remember the key to a healthy and balanced life starts with dedication, and if you're just as dedicated to your health as you are to your busy work schedule, then you're bound to succeed!