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4 Tips to Make Eating Healthy and Joyful

Feb 26, 2021

Nutrition should be fun, not stressful. Let’s dive into the simplest ways you can start finding joy with what you may have considered to be a chore.

 

1.     Eat real, whole foods. When choosing what to buy at the grocery store, make sure and stock up on plenty of whole foods. A whole food is pretty close to how it is found in its natural setting, without much processing. Think fruits, all veggies, whole grains. Ideally, we’d eat all these whole foods fresh but one quick trick is to know that we can find plenty of whole foods in the freezer aisles, making them easier and more convenient to access.

 

Examples of frozen foods to buy whole grain or cauliflower crust pizza with veggies, any and all frozen vegetables, frozen fruits to make smoothies, frozen grains like quinoa and brown rice.

 

 

2.     Eat plenty of plants. We know that eating a plant heavy diet can actually undo most chronic diseases, including heart disease and Diabetes. Studies show that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet can help us thrive and yes, can even reverse many chronic diseases.

 

Keep this simple: minimize animal protein and replace with plant-based protein. Plants are naturally high in thousands of phytonutrients that provide a huge array of health benefits including anti-cancer, anti-heart disease and anti-aging properties. Choosing colorful plants gives us a high chance of getting all of those beneficial phytonutrients, so always try to have many colors on your plate. My favorite is having a “rainbow” meal.

 

 

3.     Don’t worry about protein. What? That’s right – don’t worry about protein.

Whenever I talk about eating more plants, the most common concern I hear from my patients is “how do you get your protein?” This is perhaps the most common myth about eating mostly plants, but I have great news – all plants contain protein!

 

Nearly all Americans are eating too much protein in their daily lives. A recent USDA Dietary Guidelines stated that at least half of the US population is consuming too much protein. I realize the word “protein” is highly coveted in our culture – I have seen this personally. Perhaps we buy products because they are labelled “high protein”.

 

Let’s delve into protein in more detail so we can be sure and make smart decisions.

Protein is formed from 22 different building blocks called amino acids – in billions of different combinations – just like the letters of the alphabet can make infinite words. Our bodies can make 13 of these 22 amino acids. The other 9? We have to eat those in our diet, which is why they’re called “essential amino acids”. Plants contain all 9 of these amino acids in different proportions and it is absolutely easy and fun to eat plant protein.

Here are some examples of “complete proteins”.

 

Rice and Beans, Tacos with Beans, Tofu with Rice, Hopping John (black-eyed peas and rice)

Quinoa (1 cup cooked=8 grams protein)

Soy (only buy organic and non-GMO)

Hemp Seeds (shelled: 1 cup =53 grams of protein)

Ezekiel Bread – (8 grams of protein not even counting what’s in between those 2 slices)

Hummus

 

 

4.     How you eat is as important as what you eat. Studies have shown that eating mindfully and with gratitude helps people make better food choices and help with weight loss and increased energy levels.

 

What does mindful eating look like? Generally, it means sitting down and settling into the moment without distractions. Ideally, we should eat with people we like or eat alone (rather than eating with annoying people). Close your eyes, take 2 deep breaths, notice your emotions – express gratitude either silently or with a prayer and then begin to eat. The opposite of eating mindfully is staring at the computer, phone or TV screen while shoveling food into our mouths. Eating while walking or driving, eating when we are angry, sad or anxious.

The foods we choose when we are anxious are generally highly processed and render us with a quick sugar high and are highly addictive.

 

Just taking 2 full breaths to bring ourselves into the moment is enormously helpful each time we eat.

 

If you don’t already, start to notice how your body feels after you eat something: our bodies are always speaking to us, we just need to listen.

 

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