Examine Your PlateJan 21, 2023
How to up level your nutrition.
I frequently talk with clients and women about nutrition. We discuss things to avoid or begin to remove from your diet. But typically when the focus is on what we shouldn’t eat people become overwhelmed and discouraged. “What’s left?”, is a frequent question my clients ask. I think that so many coaches and experts in the fitness and nutrition space have been living a healthy lifestyle for so long they forget that there was a starting point to their health journey, at least there was for mine
Instead of the long list of things to avoid or foods to remove, I shift the focus on what to add.
- Protein. High quality and increased quantity. Women typically do not consume enough protein. We need to increase our consumption daily. Aim for 30-40 grams of protein per meal. Quality protein choices include chicken, beef, pork, fish and eggs. Try to choose organic or pasture raised. But I am going to be honest here. Moving to more protein and away from processed foods is so much more important than stressing about organic, pasture raised, antibiotic free, blah, blah, blah. It can be expensive and sometimes difficult to find. So start slow and increase the proteins that you enjoy.
- Vegetables. Add more fresh vegetables to your daily meals, including breakfast. Try an omelet with peppers, onion, broccoli and spinach. I try to fill half my plate with vegetables. Aim to eat 5-7 servings per day. If you are sticking to to leafy greens and fresh vegetables you really can’t get too much or too many. Try to limit potatoes to 1 serving per day. By the way, you may be asking what a serving size is? Typically, 1 cup of any vegetable constitutes a serving. Or a medium (think palm sized) piece of fruit or potato. Yeah, those lovely baking potatoes you buy at the market can be 3 servings!
- Fresh fruit. Tired of apples and bananas? I get it! I am not a huge fruit fan but every now and then I try to get some variety in my diet. I recommend trying different fruits. Berries, pineapple, mango, kiwi, tangerine, peaches and pears. Eat 1-3 servings per day
Now let’s begin to focus on healthy swaps.
- Ditch the seed oils and replace with olive, avocado or coconut oil. Seed oils are the “healthy” oils that we have been conditioned to use. Canola, corn, peanut and sunflower oils, as well as avoiding vegetable oil and margarine. These oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and have a direct link to inflammation leading to heart disease, obesity, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Don’t avoid fats, they are healthy and necessary part of your diet. Include Omega-3 fats found in fish, walnuts and avocados. When cooking select olive, avocado or coconut oil to decrease the risk of inflammation. These Omega-3 fats have been shown to improve cholesterol and decrease inflammation… The opposite of the unhealthy oils we have been using. Here is one pro tip: when you go out to eat every restaurant everywhere is going to be using seed oils in their preparation. It is less expensive. So select your meal knowing this and do the best you can. Make the majority of your meals at home, using healthy oils and Whole Foods.
- Trade your pasta for a veggie. Here are some simple swaps I routinely eat: spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti. Zucchini in place of lasagna noodles. Cauliflower rice instead of traditional rice or in place of mashed potatoes and other pastas. This technique adds more nutrients to your meals and increases the number of veggie servings you have on your plate.
- I don’t consume dairy and honestly this one can be tough when you go out to eat or have a family that still likes their cheese. What I do instead: increase the amount of salsa and add some fresh made guacamole to my taco bowl or Mexican meals. I make a small pan of veggie lasagna with zucchini noodles and sauce, no cheese— maybe a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan. In my smoothie I use canned, unsweetened coconut milk or just water for liquid. Avoiding dairy can be hard but
- Switch your chips for a fresh veggie. Dip your carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower instead of your favorite chips. You can use hummus, salsa guacamole or your favorite chip dip knowing that you have increased your veggie count
- Here a big one! Cake, cookies, sweets and breads. Try a bowl of fresh berries. Make a fruit smoothie or a smoothie bowl with frozen fruits, a scoop of protein powder and a little water or almond milk to blend it together. I like to add some avocado to my smooths to increase the creaminess. You could also add banana if you like banana flavor, it’s just not my favorite.
- Okay, last one, I promise. Examine your beverages! Especially those that add calories or do not contribute to your health. I am not the one to say eliminate everything you enjoy. However, is the soda you drink all day long really serving you? Even the sugar free varieties have sugar substitutes that have been linked to obesity by continuing to increase your desire for sweet or carb loaded snacks. It is a vicious cycle. Choose water or flavored water, herbal teas, coffee (maybe plain and black so you aren’t filling up with calories).
Still overwhelmed? I get it. Start with one meal. That’s all you need to focus on in the beginning. Maybe it’s your breakfast. Need things to be fast and easy? That’s why you grab the doughnut or muffin in the morning? Make an egg frittata on Sunday have have breakfast all week long.
Protein: Sausage, bacon, and your favorite veggies.
Veggies: Peppers, onion, broccoli, mushrooms all work well
Spray your 9x13 pan generously with some olive oil cooking spray.
Brown the sausage with onion. Add the veggies of choice and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Crack the eggs in a bowl and mix together.
Spread the sausage mixture in the greased pan
Pour the eggs over top
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Let cool for about 15 minutes.
Cover the pan and place in the fridge.
Each morning you can cut a square and heat in the microwave.
Other breakfast options: Consider adding a side salad of spinach or other leafy greens. (Yes I know a salad in the morning can seems crazy but try it!!) Maybe some avocado toast and you are set for the day
Not eating breakfast right now? This works as a nice lunch or mid-morning meal to break your fast.
Bottom line is that every choice you make to move your nutrition in a healthy direction can have added benefits. Start with your one meal, one protein and begin to expand each week. Every little choice adds up.
Still overwhelmed or confused, reach out. Let’s talk about where you can start or modifications that feel good for you and your body.
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