5 simple ways to start eating healthy and nutritious without dieting and apps.
As a location-independent online nutrition/health coach I get to work with people from all walks of life, from different continents and different climate zones, with zero nutrition knowledge and with too much of it. A lot of information available these days is not helping people to simplify their journey to healthier, fitter, leaner, happier self — it does the opposite. Across the globe. People are more confused than ever. Propaganda-like, biased and misleading “documentaries” like “The Game Changers” make it even worse. (After these movies I get so many emails, comments, tweets asking me, if I saw it and how they too could go vegan).
You know what happens in most cases though, when people go vegan, keto, carnivore or the-next-best-diet, that has nothing to do with their current lifestyle, eating habits and preferences, location, health and family history? People get entertained by and fascinated with this new diet, or health theory, they honestly and passionately do it for like a month, and then they go back to doing whatever they were doing before. Sounds familiar? It sure does to me! I see it happens all the time! Because eating healthier, having a healthier lifestyle has nothing to do with any “perfect” diet. It’s much more simple. It requires you to be consistent. And it needs to be done in a way, so that YOU can maintain it, anywhere any time of your life. That’s when it works long term! And the best part? You can start doing it today and you don’t need to count carbs, calories, fats or get tons of fancy supplements.
Here is how you can improve your eating habits for life today.
1. Fast 14 hours daily. Eat 3 meals a day.
In our all-you-can-eat buffet food environment it’s shocking for a lot of people, that I’m suggesting not eating for the whole 14 hours a day sleep including! Aren’t we gonna die? Isn’t our metabolism gonna slow down and break? Isn’t our brain gonna run out of sugar? (We wouldn’t survive as species, if ANY of that were the case!) Your parents or grandparents did it with no problem at all! When I was growing up we would have dinner around 6 PM, and then the kitchen was closed till morning. We had breakfast, lunch at school and dinner at home. We didn’t have snacking vending machines, preventing our brain from crushing, and candy was for celebrations and as a dessert after you ate your veggies.
This practice will improve your gut health, digestion, metabolism and even your sleep. You can fast more but not less. You can have fewer meals but no more. The main idea is to create discipline around your food habits, create order instead of a mess. Just like sleeping on time works the best for human health, eating on time does too. Fasting allows you to improve your gut and metabolic health. It’s not about calories, it’s about health.
Example, that works for a lot of my clients:
Let’s say you finish dinner at 8 PM. Your breakfast will be no earlier than 10 AM. And then you have 2 more meals to eat. As simple as that.
Many of my clients like to grab breakfast to work, or for their commute. Something like overnight oats or chia pudding, green smoothie (frozen in advance and blended in 2 minutes in the morning), pre-boiled eggs and canned sardines with a salad mix and their favorite dressing.
2. Change one meal at a time. Start with breakfast.
You might try to change your whole life overnight — we know where that ends. Or you can get hyper-real and do what’s manageable and doable for you. For most people, changing one meal at a time is more realistic and doable, than changing the way you eat completely and instantly. Forget about perfect/not perfect. Think about getting better.
It’s proven by psychologists, that the choices we make first, the thoughts, the behaviors we engage in first, will condition our choices and behaviors later. So if you eat a healthy breakfast — you kind of won’t want to screw it up with some junk food later. (Plus all the nutrients you get with a healthier breakfast will help your brain to make better choices, that will serve you better long-term).
3. Make it better. Not perfect.
For most people it’s easier to transition to something familiar yet better, than to change from having a donut and some Frappuccino to an organic salad with fatty fish and/or pastured eggs. For a lot of you guys going for a coffee with a splash of almond milk and a whole grain bagel with a banana is an easier transition. And then the next week you can go green smoothie and a whole grain bagel and maybe an espresso. And then the next week you might skip the bagel and get a couple of boiled eggs instead, or a chia pudding. Think adding nutrients and removing crap instead of counting carbs, fats and calories, trying to be “perfect”, according to this new fancy diet your co-workers can’t stop talking about.
4. Eat veggies and fruit at every meal.
Somewhere between counting the hours of fasting, logging in our carbs and calories we forgot about one of the most powerful principles of eating healthier — eating a variety of vegetables and fruit every single meal. Go for your favorite ones, but don’t rely too much on bananas, apples, potatoes and French fries, ketchup and iceberg lettuce as your veggie/fruit of the meal. Those are really poor in nutrients, and to get the benefits from your veggies and fruit you really want to focus on variety, and getting something different at every single meal. And as a rule of thumb, veggies first fruit second, when it comes to nutrient density and health benefits.
5. Eat food not products.
If you have to read the ingredient list to understand, what’s that item on a shelf of your grocery store made of — that’s not food, that’s a product. You want to minimize products and maximize foods. You have to find a way, how to eat meals cooked from whole foods at every meal.
Maybe do your cooking once or twice a week and refrigerate/freeze your meals. Maybe sign up for a meal delivery service. Maybe pay your health-enthusiastic roommate to cook some extra food for you — they’ll save on groceries and you’ll get home-cooked meals without cooking. Maybe get meals from a soup kitchen or neighborhood café, or your favorite grocery store. There is always a better way to eat, that suits your lifestyle and your budget, when you put a bit more thought into it. And eventually, it’s gonna be just as easy for you to eat better as you eat now, but you’ll feel and look much better.
BONUS TIPS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR MEALS WITH NUTRIENTS.
Include these on a regular basis:
- Canned sardines (in water or extra virgin olive oil with bones and skin) and other fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring
- Shellfish like oysters, mussels, crab
- Pastured chicken eggs, quail eggs
- Organ meats: livers, hearts, tongues etc.
- Flaxseeds, hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds
- Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, asparagus, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, variety of fresh/dried herbs and spices
- Sauerkraut and kimchi
- Avocados and olives
- Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecan nuts, pistachios
- Organic blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, fresh or frozen
Last piece of advice from your nutrition coach?
Focus on adding more nutrient-dense whole foods at each meal instead of counting calories, carbs, fats and reading trending nutrition “news” articles, obsessing over the latest “superfood”.
The main problem with modern eating habits is not, that we eat a lot of sugar, or fat, or both. The problem is that we don’t eat nutrient-dense whole foods anymore. The more crap you eat — the less nutrients you eat. The less nutrients you eat. The crappier you feel and look.
Schedule our call to finalize your eating-better plan with some professional help from a nutrition coach.
Check out FOOD SCHOOL Smarter Stronger Leaner podcast for more details on 5 principles of eating better.
Eat some canned sardines and a salad for me, will you?