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15 Healthy Eating Tips from a Professional Health Coach

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15 Healthy Eating Tips from a Professional Health Coach

Healthy eating is not eating to lose weight. If you’re a professional or entrepreneur, you’ll understand that while eating to look good is great, it’s even more important to consume the right foods to help you perform, work, and earn better.

This health stuff has levels to it. There are foods that will aid you in improving your brainpower, increasing your energy levels, and taking your working performance to the next level.

There are habits that will make your life easier and give you a great body and high performing mind on auto-pilot, and there are others that will do the opposite.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 15 healthy eating tips and habits that will help skyrocket your energy levels, heighten your focus, and give you the body you want while also being able to perform at an elite level every day.

Read on if you’re ready to make healthy eating part of your lifestyle and not another crash diet.

1. Eat More Protein

Protein is the king of macronutrients. This is why eating protein is one of the best healthy eating tips. Not only does sufficient protein intake aid in the growth of your muscles and help you recover from training better, but it’s also going to keep you fuller throughout the day.

This is going to lead to far fewer binges, improve your overall focus, and prevent you from reaching for sugary foods. Some good sources of lean protein are white meat, low-fat beef, eggs, whey protein, and Greek Yogurt.

Action point: Aim to eat consume around 1g protein per LB of bodyweight. If you weight around 170LBs, you should shoot for around 170g protein per day.

2. Make Breakfast Optional

Breakfast being the most important meal of the day is a complete myth. Food marketers and cereal companies make a lot of money from pushing this message. There are people who are hungry in the morning, but there are many who are not.

You should not be encouraged to eat breakfast if you don’t want to. If you’re very sedentary (office worker, professional) and spend most of your day at your desk, it’s probably a good idea to skip breakfast.

If you’re very active, have a low body fat percentage, and have high energy demands in the morning, it may be a good idea to have breakfast.

Action point: Skip breakfast if you are not hungry. If you are to have breakfast, opt for a high-protein option, such as protein shakes, eggs, and bacon or smoked salmon.

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3. Track Your Food

Food tracking is a great habit to build. Studies show that people underestimate their daily caloric intake by as much as 50%.[1]

If you believe you’re consuming 2000 calories per day, you’re probably consuming near 3000. By tracking your food, you are staying accountable to yourself and more importantly, learning what is inside foods. Learning the different macronutrient content (protein, carbs, fats) of food is invaluable.

Action point: Use MyFitnessPal app to track your food 4-5 days per week. Have at least 2 days off as over-tracking can lead to you becoming over-obsessive with food.

4. More Eggs Are Good

Another huge myth is that eggs are bad for your cholesterol. This is false.

Despite fears surrounding egg consumption and high cholesterol, research indicates no measurable increase in heart disease or diabetes risk from eating up to 6–12 eggs per week.

Eggs are a great source of vitamin B, high in anti-oxidants and protein, and as long as you control your overall calories, there is no negative health risk to consuming eggs.

Action point: Eat eggs as you please. Scrambled, poached, or boiled is the best way to cook them.

5. Say ‘No’ to Vegetable Oil

Aside from being highly processed, vegetable oil is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are heat sensitive. This means that when vegetable oil is used for cooking and subjected heat, the bonds in the PUFAs are shifted and turn into trans fats that cause oxidative stress and wreak havoc on our health.

This can have negative effects on the gut, arteries, white blood cells, and gene replication that can promote brain disorders in the future.

Action point: Cook using traditional fats such as olive oil, peanut oil, and butter.

6. Avoid Sugar Like the Plague

Most of you know that excessive sugar can lead to excess calories and thus, weight gain. However, sugar is much more damaging to other parts of your body.

Sugar jams hormone signals and clogs nutrient channels, weakening bone and muscle, and slowing neural communication, which can impair mood and memory and lead to dementia.

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Sugar stiffens the collagen in your tendons, joints, and skin, causing arthritis and premature wrinkling while interfering with the production of new collagen throughout your entire body.

Action point: It’s near impossible to eliminate sugar fully. However, look on the back of food labels while at the grocery store to see which foods are high in sugar (there will be more than you think). From this, try to gradually limit your sugar intake when possible.

7. Get More Fish

One of the vitamins many people are deficient in is omega-3. This is usually because they don’t get enough fish in their diet and only stick to lean meats.

High omega-3 intake can help improve eye health, reduce the likelihood of depression, and improve cognitive function. Fishes such as Salmon, Mackerel, Cod, and Sardines are excellent sources of omega-3s.

Action item: Try to add fish to your diet at least 2x per week.

8. Increase Your Water Intake

“Oh no, not another guy telling me to drink more water”

Sorry, I am that guy.

While this isn’t really an eating habit, it does apply to your overall nutrition in general. The reason why water is so important is that it is what allows vital organs such as your brain to function properly.

Studies show that even just mild dehydration can impair many aspects of how your brain works.[2] This can lead to a lack of concentration and set you back drastically if you’re trying to perform at your best.

Action point: Aim to drink 4 liters of water per day. Carry around a bottle with you to stay hydrated and always have a glass of water at your desk. If you have difficulty drinking sufficient water, this article can help you: How to Drink More Water Easily When It Seems Like a Major Chore

9. Complex Carbs for the Win

Carbohydrates are split into two different forms: complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are foods such as high-fiber cereals, whole-grain bread, and starchy vegetables and are the best choice for prolonged energy as they are digested at a slow, consistent rate.

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This is really important if you work long hours, as these foods will give you a consistent hit of energy throughout the course of the day and stop you from feeling sluggish.

Complex carbs also stabilize your body’s sugar level, which in turn causes the pancreas to produce less insulin. This gives you a feeling of satiety and you become less hungry.

Action point: Consume complex carbohydrates as much as you can as your preferred energy source where possible. Try to keep simple sugary carbs (candy, chocolate, sugary smoothies) to a minimum.

10. Snack on the Right Foods

Snacking can be the devil when it comes to your health.

Not only can snacking bump up your calories and cause you to gain weight but snacking on the wrong foods can leave you sluggish and reduce your focus.

Good snacking options are foods that are high in protein, low in sugar, and low in overall calories.

Action point: Overall, try to keep your snacking to a minimum. If you are to snack, aim to eat boiled eggs, whey protein, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or other high protein options. If they are carb-based snacks, aim to eat rice cakes, high fiber bars, and make sure the snack is less than 200 calories. Check out these 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home.

11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

An easy way for you to gain weight and consume excess sugar is through drinking your calories (also known as “invisible” calories.

Soft drinks, fruit juices, and certain hot beverages can contain huge amounts of calories and ingredients that you’re unaware of. Adding this to your total food consumption, you can rack up a pretty big calorie number at the end of the day.

Action point: Drink water when you are thirsty, opt for a diet soft drink over a regular soft drink, and consume black coffee with a small amount of milk instead of a sugary Starbucks Latte.

12. Add More White Potatoes to Your Meals

White potatoes are under-rated food. They are not only one of the most cost-effective foods to buy, but they are also the most filling.

A study done in 1995 concluded that boiled white potatoes ranked highest on the satiety index (SI) when it came to foods that fill you up the most.[3] This can be highly useful when trying to keep your calories low, and they still give you energy over the course of the day.

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Action point: Add boiled white potatoes to your meals religiously and spice them up with different meat and vegetable options.

13. Vegetables Over Fruit

We’ve heard time and time again, “eat more fruits and vegetables” as though the two are equivalent. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Vegetables contain a higher nutrient-to-energy ratio than fruit and despite having great vitamin and mineral benefits, the fruit is still high in sugar.

Now, I don’t want to scaremonger you here into not eating fruit. It’s better to opt for a piece of fruit than a candy bar when you have to make the choice. However, it’s probably a smarter option to consume more vegetables where you can.

Action point: One apple-sized portion of fruit per day is plenty. Fill your plate up with lots of vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, during the course of your day.

14. Drink Green Tea

Green tea is a lightly caffeinated hot beverage that can help boost your energy levels during the day. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Action point: Consume Green Tea before 2 pm when low in energy and looking for a boost at work.

15. Be Consistent, Not Optimal

The key to healthy eating is to be consistent. Not every day is going to be perfect, and there are going to be some periods where you make the wrong choices.

That’s fine, as long as you don’t make it a habit. The more that you aim to be consistent and not optimal, the more you will build good systems that will help you make good choices when it comes to healthy eating.

Final Thoughts

I hope you find the information in this article useful and that it motivates you to make the right intuitive decisions when it comes to your nutrition going forward.

Use this information as the lighthouse in the sea of misinformation regarding nutrition.

Stick to these principles and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a healthy mind, body, and spirit that can perform at the highest level every day.

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More Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Oliver Anwar

Fitness Entrepreneur, Health Consultant & Qualified Nutrition Coach

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

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8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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