The food and nutrition conversation today seems to be spinning out of control.
Avoid this (gluten, grains, soy, dairy, sugar…insert cause here) because it’s toxic, but eat lots of (fat? coconut? protein? …insert cause here) because it’s the secret to the easy results you crave. Of course, the particulars change, depending on the media headlines, and whatever diet book is topping the best seller list that week.
I feel for eaters everywhere, because in my experience they are really good people trying to sort through bad (and often conflicting) information. And the truth is, this hyper-focus, hyper-obsessed food culture is taking its toll on us, eroding the very sense of well-being that we crave. That feeling of health and wholeness… which is the whole reason you are trying to find the best information, to make the right choices in the first place!
In fact, there’s even a new clinical diagnosis for this-orthorexia-the obsession with ultimate health in every bite.
Kelly and I talked about this on our podcast… how incredibly powerful just a few key behaviors are create deep health and resilience in you. Want to focus on the biggest areas to get results? Here’s how.
1. Choose real food first. Fill your diet with a variety of minimally processed, whole foods that look as close to how they are found in Nature. These contain Nature’s intact matrix of nutrients, beautifully designed to nourish you with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, protein, carbohydrate and essential healthy fats. And rather than hijacking your body’s dopmanine reward system like highly processed foods and fast foods do (which is primitive and powerful…just go to Vegas if you want to see it at work), they naturally work with your body’s hunger and satiety hormones to help you stop eating when you feel full.
2. Make it mostly plants. Plant foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, seeds, nuts and ancient grains (gluten free ones like quinoa, amaranth, oats and rice fall here too) – these are some of the foundational foods of many of the “Blue Zones,” areas of the planet where longevity and disease-free living go hand in hand. Plant foods are especially rich sources of fiber (great for gut health), nutrients that calm inflammation, and antioxidants (which mop up free radicals, significantly reducing your risk for multiple types of cancer). Plant-based diets not only make it easier to stay slimmer and disease free longer, they are also better for the planet.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: The Building Blocks of a Delicious, Healthy Diet with Kate Geagan
3. Minimize liquid calories…replenish with water. It’s really quite simple: drink more water, more often. Grab a fabulous BPA free water bottle (I love my Camelbak!) made of glass, stainless steel, or BPA free plastic and start sipping. Sugar sweetened beverages are a driver of weight gain and insulin resistance…and numerous studies have shown that our brains don’t recognize liquid calories in the same was as when we eat calories in foods: crucially, we don’t compensate by eating less. With “liquid wellness” a huge trend right now-from plant waters to vitamin infused waters to charcoal waters, natural sodas and drinking vinegars, many of these beverages seem to have what health experts call a “health halo”. So read labels and look for hidden sugars (which can cause weight gain) or zero calorie sweeteners (which may negatively effect your microbiome). Also, make sure these drinks aren’t eating into your food budget- as many come with a hefty price tag. A more effective and budget-friendly approach (and often better for your biology) is to pair your healthy foods with lots of water, herbal tea or the occasional glass of red wine instead.
4. Include plenty of omega-3 fats. Your brain loves, craves, wants fat-the brain is over 60% fat. And DHA is its favorite by far. But unfortunately our ultra-processed modern diets are too high in omega-6 fats (which support inflammation) and far too low in omega-3 fats (which are anti-inflammatory). Evidence is clear that getting enough DHA and EPA is protective against depression, heart disease and cognitive decline. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, barramundi, sardines or herring are some of Nature’s richest sources of brain-boosting DHA and EPA. Plant sources like hemp seeds, sacha inchi nuts and certain algae are also excellent plant based sources of high quality omega-3 fats. These fats help your brain welcome more happiness boosting neurotransmitters and communicate effectively to one another.
5. Enjoy life…that’s the point! Want a glass of wine? Love the occasional sweet treat ? So do Kelly and I…which we talked about at length on our podcast. I, for instance, am a dark chocolate gal. Oh, and red wine girl, too. If you make room for these splurges occasionally (when I lived in Italy the Italians were fond of saying “meats and sweets on Sunday”), not only will you be able to stick to your healthy lifestyle longer and not feel like you’re “missing out”, your overall diet (see above!) will be resilient enough to include these foods without undermining your health and weight goals.
I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this NEW challenge with Clean Eating Magazine! GoClean45 is a life changing 45-day challenge launching Oct 10. Filled with 6 delicious weeks of energizing meal plans, clean recipes, guided exercises and gratitude. Led by myself and the amazing Gillian Mandich. Use discount code KGEAGAN20 for $20 off the course.
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Get more of Kate’s tips for living a healthy lifestyle! Enter below to win her book, Go Green Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low-Carbon Footprint Diet. 3 winners will be selected!