Are you confused about what you should be eating every day?
The media is great at confusing the hell out of us about what we should eat.
Sometimes we just get really overwhelmed with all the different choices we have and what we should be eating.
If you know there is something wrong with your diet but you can’t quite put your finger on it, or if you know exactly what it is that you need to change but you find it hard to make that change there are some really simple steps you can take to just get started.
And the thing about just getting started is that it means you take control of what you eat and this will help you clarify what was wrong with your diet, it can also help you to make the change you need.
The only way to approach these changes in my book is to simply work on one at a time.
Here is my step by step guide to improving what you eat, have a look at the list below and choose which one thing will make the biggest impact to your diet, focus on it and make it work and then move on to the next.
It may be an obvious place to start, but hands up if you are one of those who needs reminding about this one?
When I first start working with clients this is always where we start. Sometimes it is the fact that you are not drinking enough water that can help you realise that things have slipped in your eating habits.
You probably know if you drink enough or not, we all know we should aim for 8 glasses or two liters a day possibly even more.
To be more sure pinch the back of your hand and pull the skin up if it immediately springs back to smooth skin you are well hydrated if it takes a bit of time for the crease in the skin to disappear then you may need to up your game.
First thing to do is make sure you down a pint of water every morning when you get up. Start the day as you mean to go on and if you need more tips have a look at this blog.
Bit of a theme for me isn’t it! It is so important though for our energy levels and if your goal is to feel slimmer it is a big one to focus on.
If your body knows when to expect food it can function at its best.
With regular eating patterns we manage insulin better and we have more chance of getting all the nutrients we need when we eat enough during the day.
Listen to your body it knows when it needs to eat. Recognise if you are the kind of person who gets grumpy when you are hungry, feels dizzy if you wait too long to eat, maybe you don’t eat regularly because you never feel hungry? Whatever your pattern think about how eating more regularly could help.
Regular eating corrects so many of the things you may need to address with your nutrition and allows you to get enough of the nutrients you need.
3. Increase fruit and veg
Five a day? Or is it 8? I can’t quite remember what the latest media advice is so I’ll keep it super simple.
Eat more vegetable than fruit as they are more nutrient dense and aim to have at least a fist sized portion at every meal (men should aim for two).
Snacking on vegetables and fruit is all a bonus too.
If you need more ideas to help have a look at this blog.
Eggs, pulses, meat, dairy, fish. Protein is made up of amino acids some of which are essential to our body to grow and repair. Some amino acids we can make some we can’t meaning that we should be eating some protein regularly.
Our bodies need adequate protein to function well.
Consuming protein can also increase levels of the hormone glucagon, and glucagon can help to control body fat. Glucagon is released when blood sugar levels go down.
Women should aim to eat one palm sized portion of protein with every meal (men two palm sized portions) to get the optimum amount of protein in a day. It’s important to keep replenishing the protein stores as the body can only store so much at a time.
5. Refined Carbs
There is much confusion where carbohydrates are concerned.
Many of us base each meal around bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. The general rule with carbs is to avoid processed refined food that contains high amounts of sugar, salt, flour and pasteurised products such as milk powder. These really mess with your body.
The best way to think about carbs is to aim to eat them in as natural form as possible.
Often people ask if they don’t eat pasta, bread etc. what on earth should they eat instead?
Think of your meal as a plate of natural food, you have your fist size portion of vegetables, your palm size portion of protein and a cupped hand sized portion of carbohydrates. That could be a sweet potato or other carb rich vegetable, some rice, oats, beans or even fruit. If most of your meals look like this you shouldn’t need to pile your plate with the refined carbs.
Save the pasta and bread to eat less often and see if that makes you feel better.
You know it’s bad, the problem with sugar isn’t that eating a little is really detrimental to your immediate health. The problem is that eating a little sugar will invariably make you want to eat more sugar, which will make you want to eat more.
It’s addictive and eating too much over a long period of time will be detrimental to your long term health.
It’s just so tempting and so delicious and so hard to avoid.
Or is it?
If you were to take all sugar out of your diet for 30 days you would find that you don’t crave it at all, being without it is actually a lot easier once you get it out of your system.
If you feel you eat too much have a look at this blog which will help you begin to reduce your intake.
Making this one change can have really big impact on your well-being, energy levels and leaves room for eating loads of more nutritious food.
7. Processed food
If you want to make improvements to what you eat start by moving towards more natural food.
We all find it hard to cook every meal from scratch and convenience food is so accessible and quick.
If you eat a lot of processed food start by looking at the labels and understanding how many ingredients the product has. As a general rule you should be looking to eat packaged foods with only minimal ingredients that you can recognise as real food.
If it’s the convenience of a meal ready in minutes you are looking for try introducing some quick simple meals, try searching on a site like Pinterest for 15 minute meals and some recipe inspiration.
Replacing just one processed meal a week for one you have cooked from scratch is a great place to start.
8. Good fats
For years we have believed that fat is bad for our health.
If you are conditioned to buy low fat processed food it can be a hard to change to full fat.
The reason you should want to is that low fat products are usually more heavily processed and therefore contain more sugar and other additives to replace the flavour removed with the fat.
Also fat is actually required by the body to help it function optimally so we really don’t want to be without it in our diet.
We need adequate fat to support metabolism, cell signalling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients (such as vitamins A and D).
Having enough fat will also help keep you feel full between meals.
Aim to eat one thumb sized portion (two for men) of good fats with each meal, things like nuts, seeds, nut butters, butter and good quality oils.
Do you plan your meals in advance? This is obvious I know but it’s so easy not to.
Take out a piece of paper and make four columns, one for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. In each column write your favourite healthy meals.
I like to use this to plan for the week with clients because all you then need to do is pick one option for each meal from the list.
Always make extras for the freezer when you are making meals and spend a little time each week in the kitchen just making sure you are prepared for the week ahead.
10. Keep a food diary
If you are still not too sure where to start try keeping a food diary for a few days, then check it against the list above, what’s missing?
Keeping a food diary will help you to recognise patterns too.
Record how you feel before and after each meal, are you hungry? Grumpy? Happy? What has prompted you to eat and why?
Keep a note in your diary of other symptoms, bloating, headaches, digestive issues and you will start to notice any trends.
All this information should make it clear where to start.
Remember to just focus on one thing at a time.
One small step a week and you could transform you’re eating habits in no time.
If you like these tips let me know, I would love to hear about how you progress.