Simplify How you Approach Nutrition
People tend to way overthink everything, including what they eat. Here are some simple nutrition steps to follow whether you follow the diet of an omnivore, carnivore, vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan, paleo or something else.
1. Eat only when you’re hungry.
2. Eat slowly and finish eating before you feel full. It really does take some time, 20 minutes on average, for your brain and stomach to signal each other that you’ve eaten enough. Eat too fast and you are likely overeating.
3. Focus on eating whole foods, following the guidelines below. Bonus points for avoiding artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and trans fats.
Your Whole Food Diet Priority List, in Order of Importance:
PROTEIN is your best friend. As it gets harder to digest food and absorb nutrients, you need more protein to combat sarcopenia, the gradual loss of muscle as you get older.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Lots and lots of both. Have you heard the phrase “eat the rainbow?” Plants contain a huge variety of phytonutrients. The more diverse the color palette you eat, the greater nutritional benefits you will receive. Precision Nutrition created this nifty infographic on the topic.
HEALTHY FATS. Our bodies need healthy fats, which are the building blocks for hormones, essential for our nervous system and brain, and part of every cell membrane in your body. Consuming a bit of healthy fat at every meal can help increase your satiety, boost your metabolism, and decrease cravings too!
WHOLE GRAINS. Whole grains, such as wheat, oats, rye, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, teff, and amaranth, are important sources of fiber and nutrients. The closer a grain is to its original form, the higher the quality nutrition. The more processed a grain is, the more nutrients are removed from the food (which are then sometimes added back in to make it healthy – make sense to you?).
SUPERFOODS. You weren’t making kale, goji berries, acai, flaxseed, and hemp hearts the cornerstone of your nutritional strategy, were you? Superfoods are pretty nutrient-packed foods but they do not make your diet magically healthy unless you have also nailed consistently eating the first four food groups, above.
DON’T SKIP MEALS. Skipping a meal or two may not trigger the starvation response you hear so much about, but your body may still perceive it as a stress. Stress affects your body’s production of cortisol and insulin, which can affect your weight, your girth, and your blood sugar levels. In general, managing stress helps balance hormones and blood sugars.
What About Calories?
Calories count, of course, but before you get sidetracked by macros, calories, and points, get the basics down:
- Learn to cue into your body’s hunger signals so you are eating only when you are hungry, and not because you are thirsty, tired, angry, or bored.
- Slow down so that your brain actually gets the message that your stomach is full.
- Eat real, whole foods most of the time. They are filling, nutritious, and delicious.
Wondering where to get started? I’m happy to help! Schedule a free, no obligation, Midlife Fitness and Nutrition Action Plan today!