Healthy Eating Solutions
Counting your macros is one method of “healthy” eating that may give you the most freedom in food consumption choices. I put the term healthy in quotations because a macro focused diet could be used as a eat anything diet as long as you are eating your prescribed macro nutrient amounts. For example, if 40 percent of your daily calories are coming from carbs, you could just drink a bunch of soda to meet that goal. While this would meet your goal, you would be missing out on important, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that comes from healthy food choices like brown rice, fruit, and whole grain breads. Counting macros is a great place to start for many people because it helps them realize if they are eating too many carbs, fats, or proteins. Since eating too many of any macro nutrient has been associated with unwanted weight gain, learning how to count and control your daily macro nutrient amounts would be a great healthy eating strategy to start with.
Choosing a specific diet to follow is also a popular strategy for many people. Usually a diet becomes popular because of its health promoting benefits and role in aiding weight loss. A few very popular eating/diet strategies out there right now are the Keto Diet, Plant Based Diets, and various intermittent fasting protocols. All offer promising healthy benefits, but may need to be looked at in closer detail to make sure they are appropriate for your specific goals and health status. For more information on each diet, check out the articles below.
Substituting certain items from your meals can cause a dramatic effect on our calorie and nutrient intake. Let’s say you normally order a hamburger, fries, and a soda for lunch. If you substitute the soda with water or other calorie free beverage, you can cut down your calorie intake by hundreds of calories during the week to help with your caloric reduction goals. Substitute the fries for a salad with low calorie dressing and toppings and you can cut down even further. Best part is, you still get to eat the hamburger! You can substitute many food items for lower calorie and higher nutrient dense food options. Doing this more often can help you make healthier choices while still enabling your favorite unhealthy foods on occasion.
Unhealthy Food Makeovers
One of my favorite ways to feel guilt free while eating my favorite foods is to find recipes to make my favorite dishes at home. When making dishes as home you can control what goes into the recipes. One of my favorite meals is Orange Chicken. If you get this dish at a restaurant or local fast food location, it will be packed with calories, sugar, fat, and salt. But when I make it at home I can substitute the fried chicken with baked chicken, use a sugar free sauce, and add less sodium to make a tasty and healthier version that satisfies my Orange Chicken craving. While this isn’t the most time efficient way to make a healthy food choice, it does give you more control of your food and helps you learn new cooking skill that will help you create more healthy favorites in the future. Fresh fruit sorbet is also one of my favorite things to make. All you need is frozen fruit and a bit of stevia sweetener for a delicious frozen treat you won’t even know is 100 percent fruit!
Cheat days are a guilt free classic when it comes to dieting. The purpose of cheat days is to allow one day or meal per week where you can eat whatever you want. After 6 days of focused clean and healthy eating you splurge on anything from ice cream to your favorite adult beverages. Proponents of cheat days will say that one day won’t cause any sets backs in your health and fitness goals as long as you are strict with your diet and exercise program every other day. While this type of strategy has work for some people it’s hard to say it will work for everyone.
It can be hard to sift through all the new diets and healthy eating strategies that bombard us seemingly on a weekly basis. Each one promises amazing benefits while claiming they are the latest and greatest. My advice is to start by understanding how many calories and macro nutrients your body needs to meet your goal. After that, choose healthy foods more often than unhealthy foods while staying consistent with your workout program. If you see results you are looking for, great! If you don’t, then you may need to look at adjusting your diet or exercise more specifically to reach your goals. We are all different which is why one strategy might not work the best for everyone. What is clear is our need to eat healthy nutrient dense foods while achieving regular physical activity each day. Take small steps forward, and don’t feel guilty when you cave in to a doughnut craving.