Healthy eating can be quite confusing. I hear about it all of the time and I get it. We get bombarded with advertising, we are told we need to count calories, track everything on our smart watches, that fat is something to fear, sugar entices us around every corner and we're busy living our lives, which means we don't have time to research all of the facts. Plus, a lot of associations that we look to for advice have been bought out by Big Ag, Big Pharma or both (I'm looking at you American Heart Association!)
As you can see below, I've provided a picture of what I believe healthy eating looks like on a plate. No counting, weighing or scrutinizing required! When I give this handout to my clients, most often my clients see that their vegetable intake needs a big boost and there are usually plenty of questions about ferments and how about that amount of recommend fat intake?!
Here are some pointers on how to get started with eating more like the plate:
- The ultimate goal is to eat healthy/according to the plate 80% of the time. However, if you're currently eating this way 25% of the time, the next step for you may be 35% and slowly work your way up. Big changes happen from continuous small changes over time.
- If you don't get in vegetables at breakfast, make it an extra effort throughout the day to eat them. This may mean having a salad for a meal (I am a huge promoter of having one salad a day), offering two sides of vegetables for dinner and/or having veggies for snacks. Breakfast ideas that include vegetables can simply be throwing in some spinach and onions with your eggs or an easy vegetable hash with sweet potato, peppers and chorizo. The possibilities are endless!
- Vegetables are always more delicious with fat, so top some butter on them (bonus points for grass-fed options like Kerrygold)! I make sure my salads have lots of healthy fats such as avocado, seeds, cheeses like feta, hardboiled eggs and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. A beautiful salad like that keeps me full for 3-4 hours and no energy crashes.
- Remember when I mentioned veggies for snacks? Well, don't have them plain, pair them with healthy fat and protein like string cheese, guac, hummus, homemade blue cheese dressing, etc. The amazing this is that we actually NEED fat in our meal to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K offered by vegetables.
- Ferments are becoming more popular, but are new to most people I work with. Fermented foods are a traditional way of preservation (before canned foods and refrigerators). Through this process natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Fermented foods aids in promoting digestion, immune function and balance bacterial populations.
*Clients with compromised digestion would eat differently to help their GI system heal. Once their digestion is working better, we would focus on eating according to the above recommendations.