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10 Amazing Tips On How To Eat Healthy

10 Amazing Tips On How To Eat Healthy

Learning how to eat healthy is something many people are interested in but also something that all of us have been frustrated with at some point in our lives. I’m sure you’ve wanted to throw your hands up at some point, and who could blame you? With all the advice out there surrounding dieting and learning how to eat healthy, it’s inevitable that we end up confused at some point or ready to give up. However, when it comes to eating healthy, sometimes we need to take a step back from the diet books, trends, and just keep some basic principles in mind. We also need to remember why eating healthy is important in the first place.

Why Healthy Eating is Important

A healthy diet filled with real food can mean better blood sugar levels, a longer life, better focus, less risk for disease, a healthier heart, better digestion, and a naturally healthy weight that we don’t always have to feel the need to manage. However, the term healthy eating means many different things to just about everyone and not one set meal plan will work for every single individual out there.

I’m a nutritionist who has experimented with a variety of diets, studied nutrition for over 10 years, and worked with clients from across the country. Here are 10 Amazing Tips on How to Eat Healthy that I advise to everyone I know and practice myself on a daily basis:

1. Always Start With Fresh Food

Fresh foods and produce should be a part of every single meal you eat. Going all day and subsisting on diet bars, shakes, fast food, and caffeine will set you up for nutritional deficiencies and leave you unsatisfied.  Select one, two, three or more produce items to add to each meal you eat, and remember that vegetables, greens, and fruits contain vitamins and minerals that other foods don’t offer. They also help hydrate us and satisfy us despite that they’re low in calories.

Experiment with different produce options at each meal to see which ones you enjoy the most, and don’t be afraid to try new things!

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2. Listen to Your Hunger

This may sound obvious, but most people miss this key part of the puzzle. If you’re hungry, eat. If not, don’t eat. While you should not go over 5 hours during the day without eating when you have a busy schedule, if you’re not hungry when you first wake up, wait until your body tells you it’s ready to eat. Have lunch at the time your body tells you it needs some mid-day fuel. Come dinnertime, don’t feel as though you need a huge meal to unwind after a long day or feel as though you need to restrict portions if you’re a little hungrier than others some nights.

Fill your plates with fresh foods and listen to your body’s hunger signals. This is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy mindset around food, relationship with your body, and a healthy metabolism for life.

3. View Food as More Than Calories

There are plenty of low-calorie diet items you can buy at the store these days, but packaged diet foods are not the key to living and eating healthy. Yes, calories do matter and just because quality calories are better than processed calories, it doesn’t mean you can overeat and stuff yourself. However, food is more than calories, and it’s ten times better to eat 200 calories from fresh foods and clean sources of protein than it is to eat a 100 calorie snack pack for lunch.

Give your body real food and learn to view food as more than calories. If you’re listening to your hunger signals, everything else will eventually take care of itself.

4. Remember the Importance of Blood Sugar

Your blood sugar can make or break your health. Refined carbohydrates like refined grains and all added sugars can spike blood sugar levels and lead to health issues like Type 2 diabetes or weight gain. When you eat each meal, keep your blood sugar in mind. Insulin spikes when we eat, and to keep insulin working properly, we need a balanced intake of lean protein, fiber, and some healthy fats. Think veggies, greens, lean protein, and moderate intake of fruits and healthy fats. If you tolerate grains, always go for whole grains like oats or quinoa for optimal blood sugar levels since they digest more slowly than processed carbs like bread or cereal.

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Here are 10 powerful foods that are great for blood sugar levels.

5. Skip Sugar

Many people believe that sugar is harmless, however, I’m not one of those people. Refined sugar—and even many natural, added sugars—usually lead to overeating as well as blood sugar issues. They also age the skin and trigger overeating or more sugar cravings. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your birthday cake or dessert on Thanksgiving, it just means that sugar in most all forms should not be a part of your healthy eating routine.

Throw out the packaged foods with added sugar and learn to read labels. There are over 57 hidden names for sugar that can appear on a label, so once again, fresh food is always the best choice when planning your meals. Natural sugars from fruit are fine in moderation, and if you need some sweetener for your coffee or desserts, try liquid stevia which is more natural than artificial sweeteners and free of calories.

6. Remember Fat is Not the Enemy

Dietary fat is something that most of us have been confused about. I’ve eaten a low-fat diet and a high-fat diet and neither felt so great in my body, however, I know many people that thrive on both styles of eating. No matter what way works for you, we need to remember that fat is not the enemy. Fat can satiate the body, keep the hair and skin healthy, and it also boosts mood and energy when we eat it in the proper amounts for our body. We don’t need to eat a stick of butter a day or tons of coconut oil to get enough fat, but we do need some sources of fat in our diets to thrive.

Focus on adding a little fat to each meal and see how you feel. Many healthy foods like wild salmon, avocado and eggs have fats as do sources such as flax, chia, hemp and a variety of nuts and seeds. My personal favorite sources of healthy fats are raw coconut butter, ground flax, and the occasional local egg. See which ones work for you, and don’t fear fat—it can be your friend!

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7. Keep it Simple

One thing that really helps most people I work with as well as me personally is to keep things simple. There’s no need to eat a different meal every single night or feel the need to spend an hour preparing it. Keep your meals simple and stick to the lean protein, fresh produce (veggies, greens, and fruit), and healthy fats at each meal. Experiment with whole grains and legumes as well which can be healthy options if your body tolerates them. Rotate your favorite meals through the week, and take advantage of kitchen appliances like a blender and slow cooker for quick meals and easy meal prep each day.

Remember, real food can be simple and quick to prepare. Don’t overcomplicate things!

8. Eat Mostly From Your Fridge

A pantry can be your best friend for storing canned items and some others like whole grains or herbs and spices, however, most people eat out of their pantry and their fridge is always bare. Your fridge should be what you eat from the most, but this doesn’t mean you should fill the fridge with processed foods or fill the freezer with frozen pizza.

Focus on filling the fridge with fresh foods, not reaching in the pantry when you’re ready to eat each meal. Skip the cereal, bars, and processed options which all usually have added sodium, processed fats, and added sugar. Ready-made foods are not as nutritionally dense as fresh foods are, so attempt to quit reaching for them every time you’re hungry. When it comes to condiments, they can be fine to add to fresh meals to make things more interesting. Just be mindful of the sodium, fat and sugar content in each one you buy. Some good options include mustard, hot sauce, no salt seasonings, and apple cider vinegar.

9. Purge the Pantry

Speaking of the pantry, do a little pantry purge. Make it a goal to only have whole foods in your pantry such as canned tomatoes, beans, lentils, whole grains, herbs and spices, and maybe some jars of nut butter (refrigerate after opening). Get rid of the chips, canned soups and sugary cereals, and donate those or throw them out. You’ll feel so much better without them in your life! Remember that processed foods are not the key to eating healthy. While they’re fine on occasion, they aren’t the solution to long-term health.

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10. Remember that One Size Doesn’t Fit All

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone is to remember that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to health and what diets work best. All of us would benefit by eating less processed foods, eating as many plants as possible, eating a variety of nutrients at each meal, and being mindful of where we get our protein. However, after that, we need to remember that what works wonderfully for our parents, significant other, or best friend may not work for us. Just because someone you know thrives on one style of eating doesn’t mean that you will.

At the end of the day, our individual hormones, current health issues, our activity levels, gut health, sleep habits, and stress levels all affect our health just as much as food. Many of us will need more of certain foods while others will need to eat completely different diets. One size doesn’t fit all in the jeans department or the food department. Keep that in mind, choose real food, and do the best you can.

For more tips on how to eat healthy, here are 20 foods you can fill your fridge up to help you get started, and here are some tips for eating healthy on a budget.

Featured photo credit: Tella Chen/Flickr via flic.kr

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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