Wow– nutrition and diet info is everywhere these days!
And each expert and company tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has received way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the 'be all and end all' of health like so many are led to believe.
Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run, I'm surprised it is still so deeply believed. If losing weight was just about eating less and moving more, there would be a lot more people in the healthy weight category.
Don't get me wrong though, You can be aware of your portions and macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbs), but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of fruits and veggies at most meals and snacks. You need the nutritional benefit of the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism too!).
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones, transfats or processed vegetable oils). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your plant based foods and healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. It is really important to ensure you're getting several servings a day of some high-quality fats.
How you eat and drink
You also need to pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly watching the TV when you eat? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Have a look at your plate and appreciate it's beauty... appreciate that it came from Mother Nature! Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don't forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don't gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
1-2 handful spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 chopped peach
1 tbsp coconut oil or MCT oil
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.