This is a LOADED question and I am almost hesitant to go into the unknown darkness. I will also preface this post by letting you know that I do not have a Nutrition degree just a high magnitude on the geek Richter scale. With some nutrition education in undergrad, multiple books and research articles under my belt, I have formed my opinions based on: 1) research (not performed by myself but other smarties) and 2) N=1 (testing on myself) and adoption of these healthy habits by patients I have treated.
The word diet just gives me the heebie-jeebies. I picture a can of slim fast, rice cakes, and celery sticks. Yikes!
There are hundreds if not thousands of “diets” on the market today. All promising weight loss, healthier lifestyles, and energy! The truth is, it’s not a one size fits all. Physiologically, each and every one of us have a unique nutritional need. For example, our gut Microbiomes are made up of a trillion self-identifying bacteria (similar to our DNA) and thrive on certain types of food that differ from one person to the next. Our personalities also play a role in what lifestyle eating habits or “diets” you are more apt to adopt. Some people do very well with strict diets that limit specific foods while other individuals prefer a more relaxed eating style and focus on eating less sugar and more veggies. One is not better than the other as long as you are reaching your goals and feeling healthier.
I am the later of the two and find I do better if I have a little more freedom in my food choices. After scouring the universe, I have come up with seven daily do’s that you should focus on meeting each day. These seven habits are supported by research (I am a nerd remember) and I feel are very “doable”.
I use a simple app such as My Fitness Pal to input my daily food intake. I do not have a daily calorie goal but rather enjoy seeing the breakdown of my macronutrients and micronutrients to lend insight on how I am doing. I feel that keeping track of your food shines light on how much your consuming, what your consuming, and where you can improve.
Majority of our bodies are made up of water so why shouldn’t we be consuming a lot of it! Drinking enough water helps with mental clarity, lubricating our joints, keeping our skin clear, helping us poop and lose weight. No kidding! If you focus on drinking this much water a day, your body with excrete all that extra fluid it has been holding onto therefore, you start shedding pounds! Tip: Drink from a straw, for some reason you suck that water up like a camel!
We all know that fruits and vegetables are LOADED with essential nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. If we shoot for 7-9 servings a day, we just purely cannot fit a lot of other crap in our bodies.
No brainer here! We hear this all the time and there is good reason for it. Sugar and highly processed food wreak havoc on our bodies leading to all kinds of health problems! Sugar is also extremely addictive (more addictive than cocaine, YIKES) and NO BUENO people.
Back to the gut microbiome. The health of our gut microbiome (which is the gateway to our health and is often to referred to as our second brain) relies on diversity and abundance. This diversity in microbes requires diverse foods to feed them. Think of them as your children that are picky eaters.
Protein is the building blocks of our muscles and our muscles burn fat like an inferno. Protein also has a way of making us feel full and content so it prevents us from overeating.
I cannot say enough about intermittent fasting. There is a ton of good research out there that supports intermittent fasting for weight loss and health. Our bodies and guts were not made to be digesting food all the time and it is good to give them some time to heal and rest. A great example of this is a patch of grass. If you constantly walked over that same patch of grass it would wear down and not have time to grow into lush green grass, the same is true for our guts.