We are constantly hearing that we should eat healthy when it comes to building our health, but to be honest, it can be difficult to know where to start. I get it - trust me. At the beginning of my fitness journey, I felt like I could not eat anything. I thought all I could eat were salads and maybe some fruit, but the more I learn about nutrition and health, it's clear to me that healthy foods consist of so many different colorful, tasty and amazing items. So I really want to break it down to you and show you, that it really doesn't have to be so hard, you just need to educate yourself on what each food does for you and contains.
When it comes to eating vegetables and greens, the darker the green the better. Why? Dark greens like kale, spinach, chard, etc. contain a higher amount of nutrients, minerals and antioxidants, as well as fiber. As opposed to vegetables like cabbage and romaine lettuce. So when you opt for a salad make sure you're filling your bowl with dark leafy greens.
Another aspect of vegetables in your diet, is that you can have a lot of them! As opposed to carbs, sweets and fats, vegetables are the one type of food that your body needs the most, and the more of it, the more beneficial. This means that when I'm preparing meals with 80 - 90 percent of vegetables, I can pack on as many veggies as I'd like. I actually find that I eat more when my diet is focused around plant based foods. This is because the density of vegetables and fruits is at a lower percentage when compared to starch, carbs and meat, which have a higher particle density. Therefore when cooking your dinner opt for making vegetables 60 to 75 percent of your plate.
Next are healthy fats. Healthy fats, also known as, "good fats", lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing good HDL. Prevent abnormal heart rhythms, lower triglycerides associated with heart disease and fight inflammation and lower blood pressure. Wow! So many benefits right? You can get healthy fats in your diet from avocados, nuts, chia seeds, fish, olive oil, etc. You can make your healthy fat 10 percent of your dinner plate.
Next are complex carbs, otherwise known as "good carbs". Good Carbs are a great source of fiber and energy. You have to monitor the amount you intake, especially if you are looking to lose weight. Be sure to cut out carbs that do not serve you well like white bread, pasta, white rice, etc. Instead opt for good carbs, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, lentils, etc. You can make your carb 20 - 30 percent of your plate. This will drastically change your health for the better!
Finally we have protein. You can get your protein from meat, fish or beans. I suggest that you try only intaking lean meats such as chicken breast, ground turkey, etc. You should stay away from bacon, and other types of dark meat, due to their low nutritional value, and high (bad) fat content. You can make this 20 percent of your plate. Start slow and see how that treats you. You'll be glad you did.
Now remember, this is a LIFESTYLE change. It is not going to happen overnight, and you must be patient with yourself. Knowing how to adequately eat right and give your body the nutrients it needs is life-changing! And I want you to experience that. Slowly start to cut things out of your diet, and add healthier alternatives in. It is a journey, and it still is a journey for me too after 3 years.
The Dinner Plate Above:
Sweet Potato (Diced and baked)
Grilled Chicken Breast (Diced and grilled on frying pan)