FEED YOUR BODY: What a healthy day actually looks like
As a personal trainer, I'm continually asked about what to eat and how much to eat. What most people don't realize is that there really isn't a good "catch all" answer for this. A particular way of eating might give you results but it doesn't mean that it's healthy, sustainable or (most importantly) that it's right for you. Just like clothes, no two diets fit everyone in the exact same way. However there are some guidelines that you can use towards crafting your tailor made food plan each day:
WHAT TO AVOID
Let's start with some "dieting" strategies that can quickly lead to disaster.
Calorie Counting: I hate this one. Unless you're an athlete, undergoing extreme weight loss overseen by a doctor or participating in a body building competition, this one isn't for you. I'll go into why this irritates me so much in a future post but for now I'll just say that all calories are not worth the same amount of nutrients; by restricting calories you're potentially stripping your body of the nutrients it needs to actually get fitter and stronger. Another unfortunate byproduct about calorie counting is that it often creates or exacerbates issues and negativity around food because you're constantly having to restrict and deprive yourself.
Cheat Meals/Flex Bowls: Cheat meals and Flex Bowls in general are not ideal. Related to the point above, just because you've eaten the "right" amount of calories or eaten well for the rest of the day does not mean that you can have whatever you want so long as it fits into your macros or daily calories. Even if your body doesn't react to this overflow of unhealthy, nutrient-devoid food, your mind will because you'll constantly be looking forward to the next cheat meal/flex bowl. Learn to enjoy healthy food most days and when you do eat unhealthy food do it occasionally, without planning. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Fasting: This can work for some people under the RIGHT conditions. However, it's not the case that you can just decide to do it with no knowledge on the subject and continue your daily, normal life. Most people who are fasting, in a healthy way, aren't also training intensely AND working a full day. If you decide to incorporate fasting into your day, do so only after you've done the research, found the proper guidance and without putting yourself at risk.
WHAT TO DO
Eat Breakfast: You've heard it before a million times. Eating breakfast gets your metabolism revved up and ensures that your body is ready giving you hunger signals throughout the day so that you don't get that sudden sugar rush or binge urge at the end of the day from not eating properly. (There are a few people who do benefit from skipping breakfast or eating it later, you'll know you're one of them if you still get those hunger signals throughout the day despite skipping it. If you don't...join the rest of us and eat that brekkie!)
Hydrate: This is another one that we've all heard before. Start in the morning by gulping down one to two glasses of water. Then try to have at least one glass with every meal (and snack) throughout the day. Hydrating properly means that you won't snack just because you're thirsty, that your body can digest more effectively and that you stay more energised throughout the day.
Eat your food more than you drink it: An occasional daily juice or smoothie can be great just don't overdo it. This especially true with smoothies that are packed with fruit. Fruit still has sugar. The best way to assess whether you're having too much in your smoothie is to ask yourself, "Would I normally eat this much fruit in one sitting if it were whole?" If not, then best to moderate.
Include Veggie Fiber in Every Main Meal: Include veggies in every meal from breakfast to dinner. (Snacks are not as important.) This will give your body the nutrients it needs, will help with digestion and will keep you feeling satisfied so that you're less likely to binge from a calorie deficit. (Note this doesn't apply if you have a medical condition or suffer from IBS. In these situations follow advice of your medical professional in terms of how much fiber to consume each day.)
WHAT A HEALTHY DAY LOOKS LIKE
I'm including here a healthy, sample meal plan. This one is plant-based but I'll also include non-veggie options. This isn't for everyone and you may require less or more food but this should give you a good idea of where to start!
Pesto Potatoes & Greens (can add eggs and also sub sweet potatoes here)
Chopped Banana with no-added sugar Coconut Yogurt (or Greek)
Falafel Stuffed Peppers with Mixed Greens Salad
Chopped Apples + Crushed Walnuts and few drops of honey
Mashed Roots + Grilled Chickpeas & Steamed Spinach (you could also add chicken or fish here)
You'll notice that this is a decent amount of food and there are no portions, macros or calories included. Each dish has either fruit or veg and is meant to be filling as well as energising. There's also a good mix of protein and carbs with some healthy fats from nuts. The sugar fix is taken care of with a bit of honey and the fruit. Ideally, you'd also have a glass of water with each of these meals.
Let me know what you think! And if you have questions on healthy eating guidelines please email me at email@example.com
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