If you’re tired of chasing optimal health through expensive specialty foods, or you’ve had enough of taking fistfuls of supplements every day, this post is for you. Here are five ways you can simplify your diet, and streamline your journey to vibrant, sustainable wellbeing:
1. Look for short labels.
One of the easiest and most visual ways that you can simplify your food is by literally eating fewer ingredients. Learn how to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists, and start choosing foods that have short lists of recognizable, pronounceable things. Most simple and wholesome foods don’t have more than ten ingredients, or preferably, don’t even have an ingredient list at all!
2. Eat raw and whole.
Want the simplest food ever? Just pick up a banana, some carrot sticks, or a handful of raw nuts. When you eat foods that are in their natural state, and have not been altered, cooked, packaged, or processed, you’re not only getting superior nutrition, but you’re also keeping things easy on yourself. For me, this has meant lots of easy breakfast smoothies, fresh fruit and veggies for snacks, and big salads for dinner.
3. Find your favorites.
While it can be extremely fun and rewarding to explore new recipes and try new foods, this can be stressful (not to mention, expensive) if you do it too often. Make your meals simple and narrow down your choices to a handful of solid, healthy, and tasty recipes that you and your family love. Rotate these favorites throughout the week, and unless you absolutely adore cooking, minimize your culinary experimentation to 1-2x per month.
4. Plan your meals.
You’ve probably heard this one before, and that’s because it works. If you want to eat nutritious, wholesome foods, while minimizing the amount of shopping, prepping, and last-minute panicking, learn to plan ahead of time. Pick a day and spend a half hour or so organizing meals and recipes for the week, making a corresponding grocery list as you go. This can make your errand-running more efficient, and minimize those desperate drive-thru food moments.
5. Reevaluate your supplementation.
Often, we take way more pills and powders than are actually necessary, especially if we’re already eating a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet. Depending on your health status, you may want to experiment with reducing your supplement regimen, and increasing your real food intake to make up the difference. This can save you money, shelf space, and mental space too. And remember that no supplement can beat the benefits of a nutritious diet, good sleep habits, and solid stress reduction practices!
6. Have a green drink every day
I will gladly admit, I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables.
However, one the best decisions I’ve made in the last few months is to have one green drink each and every day.
Our greens are so important because they contain a plethora of micronutrients which are the forgotten members of a healthy overall body. Many of our daily functions couldn’t be carried out without a plethora of micronutrients.
7. Have protein with every single meal
Protein gets a lot of the spotlight, but rightfully so. It plays a role in keeping our metabolism operating smoothly, maintaining our energy levels, lowering your blood pressure levels, and is used in every single cell within our body.
Building lean muscle, maintaining strong bones, maintaining proper motor skill functioning, helping to reduce your ghrelin levels (i.e. your hunger hormone), helping to cope with stress, and helping satiety levels—protein is a nutritional superhero.
8. When you do indulge, indulge guilt-free
Guilt is a terrible and unnecessary thing.
I love tacos, tamales, arepas, empanadas, ice cream, and wine. I resist from binge eating by having control of my emotions and indulge by selectively planning for moments of indulgence.
Any sustainable diet that is designed for long-term success needs to include your favorite foods.
Diets are important, but they don’t equate to deprivement of the foods you enjoy.
9. Separate calories in from calories our.
If you believe you can’t have a brownie unless you do a certain amount of exercise to burn off those calories, you’re overcomplicating weight loss, says MacPherson. You could also be creating an unhealthy relationship with food and slowing down your metabolism. Losing weight shouldn’t include punishment when you eat “bad” foods or a constant calculus of what you need to do in order to sweat off every calorie you eat and drink.
Focus on eating a majority of healthy, whole foods with room for indulgences and only partake in exercise you enjoy for the feel-good endorphins and health benefits. Remember weight loss and healthy eating aren’t all-or-nothing — consistency beats perfection.