There are so many nutrition myths, diets, and crazy ideas out there around what it takes to be healthy, or lose weight, or have a good relationship with food.
What pains me the most as a registered dietitian, is that most people feel that in order to make a healthy change they have to be super strict and go crazy with their nutrition plan. And that couldn’t be further from the truth, actually.
The small changes you make are what leads to the big changes and the new habits that you create overtime. I always ask clients “if you can’t picture yourself doing this in three months then why are you doing it at all”? When we drop weight quickly, we’re more likely to gain it back quickly. Did you know the number one indicator of future weight gain is dieting? When we do these extreme diets, we do more damage than good, so today I want to share a handful of nutrition truths with you that everybody needs to hear.
#1: The vast majority of the healthy, fit people you know aren’t like that by chance.
Sure some people may have really great genetics where it seems like they can eat and eat and eat and never gain weight. But most of the people that you know who are fit and healthy are like this because they eat well and they exercise. And they have healthy habits like good sleep, eating at home more, etc.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they wish they had a better metabolism or could eat whatever they wanted. You can always improve your metabolism. We all know what we should be doing right. Like we all know that fruits and vegetables are better than french fries and candy. We all know that we should be exercising regularly. So next time you see somebody who looks fit, ask them what they do to stay in shape. I guarantee they will tell you that they choose nutritious foods as much as possible and that they do something active most days of the week.
#2: There’s more to fruits and vegetables than just fiber.
Fruits and vegetables bring us so many good nutrients like fiber but they also contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential to lowering our risk of certain cancers, helping our metabolism, and they contain prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in our gut which impacts nearly everything in the body.
One of the best benefits of fruits and vegetables is that they contain fiber which helps lower cholesterol levels and give us good heart health. It also helps us to have regular bowel movements and improves our gut health as well. Fruits and vegetables also have so many vitamins and minerals that play a role in almost everything that our body needs to do. They contain several antioxidants that help fight off cancers and promote immunity. Fruits and vegetables are also beneficial to add to your meals because they help fill you up and they are low calorie, which can be really helpful for someone trying to lose weight. I think fruits and veggies have gotten a bad rap since we were kids. I hear a lot of adults say they really don’t like eating fruits and vegetables but here’s the deal: we just have to do it. I don’t like having to wash my face every night before I go to bed either but I do it because I know it’s good for my skin and I don’t want acne. So seriously. I know veggies may not be fun and exciting… but just eat them. ?
We should be shooting for five servings of fruits and vegetables every single day. This is likely a serving every single time you eat. Remember to set a good example for your kids by eating your fruits and vegetables and notice how much better you feel.
#3: The more you eat at home the easier it is to eat healthy.
I know this is a tough one especially if you’re in a busy season of life. It feels so much easier to just drive through and grab something or pick something up on the way home from work but most restaurant entrées come packed with calories. In fact, even the kids’ meals often come packed with more calories than some adults need. Now is it okay to go out to eat from time to time? Absolutely. But if you find yourself picking up food or driving through more than you eat at home, it’s probably time to rethink it.
When you cook at home you have full control over what you’re eating. You have more control over the ingredients and the serving size. Try to make a goal to eat at home more and I’m confident you’ll notice a difference. I recently had one of my meal plan subscribers report that she lost 10 pounds in 1 month just by eating at home.
#4: Protein does matter a lot.
A common theme I see with the women that I coach is that most of them do not eat enough protein. They also don’t eat it consistently throughout the day. Protein not only helps build muscle, which is important for increasing your metabolism, but it also plays a role on your appetite. Making sure to include protein with your meals and snacks, will help you feel fuller longer, and may even reduce cravings and grazing. Did you know that protein has an impact on our blood sugar as well? Protein can help stabilize your blood sugar when you pair it with a carbohydrate rather than eating the carbohydrate by itself. I’m sure you’ve heard that protein helps build and repair muscle so if you are trying to get stronger and you’re trying to get more muscle tone, protein will be your bestie.
#5: Not all convenience foods are bad.
There are plenty of foods in the grocery store like naked or lightly breaded, chicken tenders, healthier frozen meal options, tuna packets, pre-cooked meals that need to be heated, etc. These foods can help you eat healthier when you’re short on time or they can be helpful when you’re only cooking for yourself. Remember: easier doesn’t always mean unhealthy, but these foods should still be as minimally processed as possible.
Don’t forget about conveniently packaged foods like the frozen steamable bags of veggies, frozen fruit, or pre-cut and pre-washed products in the produce section of the grocery store. I usually try to keep a handful of steamable veggie bags in my freezer at all times because it makes for a really quick and easy side. And bonus: NO DIRTY DISHES! These vegetables are usually ready from the microwave in five minutes. Also things like frozen chicken for meals and frozen fruit for smoothies make life so much easier.
Several convenience foods aren’t that great for you, so try to choose wisely by looking at the ingredients and the color/freshness of the product.
Understanding these nutrition truths can help you make good choices that support your health and well-being. Remember, achieving a healthy and fit lifestyle requires effort, consistency, and a balanced approach to nutrition. By acknowledging that good health takes consistent work, knowing the full benefits of fruits and vegetables, prioritizing home-cooked meals, recognizing the importance of protein, and selecting convenient options wisely, you can take significant strides towards a healthier and happier you.
Embrace these truths and incorporate them into your daily life. Small, sustainable changes can lead to significant improvements in your overall health and well-being. Start today and make nutrition a priority on your journey to a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Here’s to making informed choices and embracing a nourishing lifestyle!