When it comes to nutrition, there's so much to share. The discovery of the human genome in the year 2000 has put nutrition front and center in most conversations about health, wellness, and disease prevention.
It's exciting to understand how the foods we eat affects our genes, acting as biochemical information for our genes to read and respond to. While each of our bodies might need slightly different things, there are a few nutritional pearls of wisdom I commonly share with my clients:
1. Cook at home more.
Cooking at home gives you the power to be in charge of how you feed your body. People who can’t cook for themselves, or don’t make the time to do so, will always be at the mercy of whatever the chef is dreaming up. Chances are, it's far less healthy than what you had in mind.
Building kitchen confidence is a process. Just start by adding one extra night a week of home cooking using minimally processed ingredients. One of my favorite meals is pan-seared salmon with wilted kale. It's easy, fast, delicious, and good for you. Wins all around.
Another option is to consider a meal delivery service that preps the ingredients for you.
2. Eat more plants.
Populations that eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day live longer, healthier lives. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat more plants.
I'm really happy when my clients are eating nine servings of veggies and fruits per day, with more veggies than fruits. An easy way to sneak them in is to focus your menus on the 4 S’s:
- Stir fry
Other plant-based foods to eat more of include whole grains such as farro, quinoa, millet, and different kinds of rice.
3. Do a dessert flip.
Flip your idea of what dessert is. Dessert doesn't have to show up as a goopy high-calorie dish with a cherry on top. Dessert can be simple and naturally sweet.
Reconstruct desserts to have more fruit and smaller portions of the indulgent ingredients. I love the idea of a beaming bowl of mixed berries with a dollop of full-fat Greek yogurt, a thin slice of lemon pound cake, and a drizzle of lemon curd. Fresh and satisfying.
4. Make room for celebratory eating.
We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine is tiramisu. I eat it twice a year—including on my birthday—and enjoy every morsel of it. Food is a source of pleasure and should never be associated with guilt or judgment.
Sure, it makes sense to limit sugar intake and mostly avoid it, even. But completely limiting indulgent foods tends to eventually backfire for most people.
The trick here is to be honest about what constitutes a celebration vs. permission for a daily indulgence.
5. Create a healthy mindset.
Eating healthy isn't about a diet or a trend, it is about a lifestyle. It's a lifestyle that celebrates food and healthy eating as an enjoyable way of life.
Being thoughtful about your food choices does not mean you will eat perfectly. But it does invite a mindset of growth as you begin to make changes and explore new ways of eating.
With a growth mindset, there is no pass/fail but rather opportunities for learning as you develop your own healthy lifestyle and discover the right kinds of foods to fuel your body.
6. Engage all of your senses.
Good food should not be wasted. Slow down and enjoy it. Savor small bites and engage your curiosity about where it came from and how it was grown. Appreciate the steps you took to get that food to your plate.
Notice the textures of the foods as you prepare them and as you eat them. Notice the smells that go along with the taste of your food. Mindful eating is an exquisite opportunity to slow down in the day, this has a positive impact on your stress level, on digestion, and on your appetite.
While no two people are alike, these pearls of wisdom create a foundation for healthy eating that is doable and delicious.