Get the most out of your nutrition with these 10 key principles!
As a Wellness Coach, I’ve experimented with a wide variety of different diets. Along the way, I’ve discovered 10 tips to get the most out of your nutrition, no matter what diet you follow.
First, I want to cover a very important point... Eating healthy is NOT about counting calories or feeling deprived. The more restrictive you are with what you eat, the more stress you create and stress is the biggest killer. I believe a good nutrition program is one that makes healthy eating delicious and doable, so it’s sustainable. Mealtime is most beneficial when relaxed, fun and enjoyable. Food is meant to be savored. Food isn’t just fuel, it’s nourishment for your body, mind and soul.
Get started with these tips and experiment for yourself to find what works best.
1. Hydrate Upon Waking
Many people are chronically dehydrated. Proper hydration is crucial for overall health, including detoxification, digestion, fat loss and more. For optimal hydration, start your day with one or more of the options below, including lemon water, lime water, celery juice, cucumber juice or coconut water. After hydrating, wait 15 minutes to eat or drink anything.
Optimal Hydration Options
2. Eat More Mindfully
The easiest nutrition improvement you can make now is to eat more mindfully. Eating mindfully means being fully present for each bite, chew, sip and swallow. It’s being aware of your surroundings and what’s going on inside your body. When you engage your senses, you can connect with the present moment and learn to enjoy food in a more nourishing way. Even without changing the foods you eat, this simple tip will have a big impact on your health and fat loss goals. When you improve how you eat, you’ll naturally improve what you eat.
3. Choose Whole Foods
Stop counting calories and start focusing on nutrients by choosing natural, one-ingredient foods over man-made, processed products. Whole foods contain more nutrients to support health and fat loss. Strive for a diet that contains mostly whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
4. Eat the Rainbow
Aim to eat a rainbow of colors every day: red (cherries, beets, tomatoes), orange (citrus, peppers, carrots), yellow (bananas, turmeric, squash), green (kale, cucumber, celery), blue (blueberries, grapes), purple (eggplant, figs, red cabbage), and pink (watermelon, strawberries, raspberries). Add fresh berries to oatmeal at breakfast, enjoy a mixed veggie salad at lunch, try a kale/collard/seaweed wrap at dinner. One easy way to eat more colorful food is to choose more greens over grains. Most people eat twice as many grains (especially refined grains) as they do greens. Include more veggies by juicing, adding to salads, and using for pasta, wraps, and rolls.
5. Read Food Labels
Make it a habit to always read food labels and focus on the ingredients listed. Less is best! Look for whole food ingredients, a low sugar content (less than 5 grams per serving), and minimal ingredients. See the "bad" and "better" snack bar examples below.
Bad Food Label: Chocolate Chip Clif Bar
21 Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic cane syrup, organic roasted soybeans, rice flour, dried cane syrup, organic oat fiber, unsweetened chocolate, organic soy flour, organic sunflower oil, organic date paste, cocoa butter, molasses powder, organic soybean oil, barley malt extract, salt, vanilla extract, soy lecithin, natural flavors, cinnamon
Sugar: 22 grams from brown rice syrup, cane syrup, dried cane syrup, date paste, and molasses powder
The first ingredient is refined sugar, followed by more sugar, flour, and man-made fats. It also contains lots of soy which can increase estrogen levels.
Better Food Label: Chocolate Chip Brownie LÄRABAR
6 Ingredients: dates, chocolate chips, almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, sea salt
Sugar: 23 grams from dates
This bar is high in sugar, but the source comes from whole food dates.
6. Find Healthier Alternatives
Rather than forgetting your favorite foods, make some smart swaps. Swap processed foods for more nutrient-dense alternatives. Incorporate a smart swap every few days, so it doesn’t feel like you’re making drastic changes. Before you know it, healthier alternatives will become part of your daily diet. Swap cereal for steel-cut oatmeal, swap bread for veggies, swap soda for kombucha, swap cooking sprays for coconut oil, swap table salt for sea salt and swap conventional sweeteners for cinnamon and stevia.
7. Opt for High-Quality Foods
Quality is crucial to maximize nutrients and minimize toxins. Choose organic, non-GMO foods as much as possible. Select the highest quality single ingredient foods you can afford, such as pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, and organic blueberries. The majority of your diet should consist of colorful veggies and antioxidant-rich fruits, with some quality proteins and natural fats.
8. Supplement Smarter
First, start by cleaning up your diet and including Superfoods like wild blueberries, berries, cherries, sprouts, leafy greens, avocado and more. Then, include high-quality supplements as needed. Supplements are best used for support, to correct deficiencies, to improve body function, and to assist healing. Take supplements with a synergy of nutrients or at least a form of bioavailable nutrients the body can easily absorb. Beware taking too many supplements as they can burden the liver and make you feel worse. A good practitioner will prioritize your supplements in order of importance.
9. Detox Daily
We live in an increasingly toxic world. Reducing your exposure to toxins and supporting your body’s detox processes is crucial for overall health. First, it’s important to become more aware of toxic sources and to reduce your exposure to toxins by filtering your water, eating organic, passing on plastics and using EWG’s app to select healthier beauty, hygiene, and household items.
Next, incorporate gentle daily detox methods to provide your body with support. Beware quick fix detoxes as they release more toxins than can be safely eliminated, which can make you sicker and more toxic. Excellent daily detox methods include lemon water, heavy metal detox smoothie, celery juice, detox herbal teas (dandelion, burdock, red clover, nettle, etc.) and the Medical Medium 28-Day Cleansing diet. Exercise, yoga, dry skin brushing, saunas, steam baths, and Epsom salt baths can also be beneficial for detoxification.
10. Plan To “Cheat”
Rather than be overly restrictive with what you eat, decrease your stress around food by planning one to two cheat meals a week to indulge. If planning is a challenge, then abide by a three-bite rule. These strategies help you feel nourished while making it easier to eat healthy the rest of the week.
Other areas to consider to maximize your health…
Wellness Coach, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner,