Healthy eating doesn’t have to involve overly strict guidelines or complicated rules. These 7 simple philosophies allow me to eat whole, nutritious foods without feeling guilty or ever going hungry (because life is too short for that). Read on for a few of my key beliefs when it comes to healthy eating.
You don’t need to subsist on a diet of plain scrambled egg whites and unseasoned strips of grilled chicken–nothing more and nothing less–to be healthy. Not only is such a restricted and regimented diet unhealthy, it can be as damaging for the body as it is for the soul. That much is obvious. Sometimes we need a slice of cake. Sometimes we need a kale salad. And that’s okay.
It took me a long time (and many hard lessons) to get to the place of balance where I’m at today. I’m proud to say I’ve never felt more aware of what I put into (and onto) my body–yet at the same time, I know when and why to make an exception in the name of living my life and enjoying the moment.
That said, wellness is a journey and this isn’t the end of the path for me by any means (not even close). That said, I do have a few words of wisdom I’ve gleaned along the way that may help you on your own path to healthy living. Here are a few philosophies that have worked well for me so far.
Balance is Key
If I wasn’t already clear, let me spell it out again: perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that balance is everything when it comes to health. It’s not okay for the path to “optimal wellness” to ever threaten your mental wellbeing. Seriously, it NEVER should. You should never feel too anxious to eat a cookie (even after an incredibly healthy dinner), to skip a workout because you’ll “ruin” all your hard work, or to indulge in local specialties you’ll likely never have the opportunity to have again while on vacation. Have the gelato, for goodness sake!
Everything (Seriously, Everything!) in Moderation
Here’s another one of my key philosophies when it comes to healthy living: everything is okay in moderation. Even healthy living itself. If you won’t eat certain foods because they’ll throw off your preferred ratio of carbs to fat to protein, is that really healthy? If you turn down dessert at every single occasion because sugar is terrible for you, is that normal? And on the other end: is it okay to have fried chicken for dinner and cake for dessert every single night? (Answer: No. That’s not moderation, either.)
In a nutshell, follow the “everything in moderation” rule and you’ll be golden. Don’t eat too much fruit or you’ll overdo it on sugar. Don’t eat too much kale because you need nutrients from carrots and potatoes too. Don’t eat too much bread or wine or tomatoes or nuts.
Eat Enough Protein
I often start my day off with some eggs to kickstart my protein intake for the day. Protein keeps me full and satisfied throughout the day, and it’s much easier for me to make healthier choices as the day progresses when I’m not about to chew off my arm. Make sure you are eating enough protein at each meal (and in your snacks, too)! This can come in the form of chicken, turkey burgers, eggs, cottage cheese, beans, etc.
Don’t Fear Healthy Fats
Fat does not make you fat! Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut oil, nuts, and olive oil is so good for you and helps provide a boost of energy. Eat more of it to stay satisfied and avoid thoughtless snacking throughout the day! Try adding a scoop of peanut butter to your smoothie, avocado to your scrambled eggs (so good!), or slivered almonds to your bowl of oatmeal.
Listen to Your Body
No one knows you better than you. If you think dairy or wheat may be causing an issue, investigate the root cause. This one also means listening to your body’s cues to figure out when you are full. Overeating may feel good in the moment when you are devouring the most delicious burger (or sushi platter, or bowl of ice cream) ever, but it won’t later. I promise. Listen to what your body is telling you and follow its lead and you will always feel well.
Stick to Simplicity
Whenever possible, I aim to eat mostly whole and natural foods and avoid overly processed foods because they often contain a lot more sugar, fat, oil etc than anything available in nature. When you’re eating simple foods like chicken and avocados, you really don’t to question whether what you’re eating is healthy and how much of it you should or shouldn’t have. It is healthy… period. Just eat until you are satisfied! It’s that simple.
Sneak in More Vegetables
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but one area I sometimes struggle is eating enough vegetables. I usually can’t stomach broccoli and spinach first thing in the morning, so many of my breakfasts don’t include any of the green stuff. I need to make a conscious effort to be sure I get in enough at lunch and dinner to make up for breakfast. If this sounds like you, too, try to sneak in veggies whenever possible. Add a little bit of spinach to your eggs, pile sliced tomato, cucumber and romaine on your sandwich at lunch, and fill at least one-third of your plate at dinner with vegetables. Add kale to a smoothie (you won’t even taste it!) and diced tomatoes and onions to ground turkey or chicken. Simple additions can really add up and help you meet your quota of the good stuff.