How to Start Eating Healthier
whole foods > processed foods
If you’ve read your way around this blog you might be tired of hearing this, however, it’s a point I’m going to keep driving home.
I’m always going to advocate that you eat whole foods or products that are minimally processed.
There is no need to be consuming products that have an illegible ingredient list.
Packaged shelf stable foods often have hidden sugar, extra salt, and have undergone enough processing that the natural nutrients are lost. As a result companies add nutrients back into the food by a fortification process.
Why not just eat the whole food that has all the vitamins and minerals to start with?
master the macronutrients
There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. All three deserve a place on your plate. Each plays a vital role during your pregnancy but an imbalance can leave you with a host of health problems.
Conventional nutrition advice advocates more carbohydrates than I would ever dream of asking you to eat. Fats are still fearing all over North America and protein pushers are making me go crazy.
Take a look at the list of meals I’ve made showing a balanced breakfast, entree, and snacks. I purposefully noted the place of each macronutrient in these meals. If you want to take a deeper dive into each macronutrient read my posts about carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
I hope these blog posts help you feel a sense of empowerment and clarity of what to put on your plate.
prep for success
If there isn’t food already prepped in my fridge I know exactly what I’m going for. Chips and salsa. Although that’s not the worst snack I could come up with – I could be doing better.
This is where meal prep comes in [read more about how to meal prep here]. It’s quite simple: buy vegetables, wash, cut, and store them in glass containers in the fridge.
Have dips and cheese on hand. Be ready to make yourself a charcuterie board at a moments notice. Add some nuts, seeds, feta – you just made the perfect snack.
In all seriousness, without meal prep, most of us reach for ready made food and snacks. Once again I’m circling back to processed foods, having meals prepped is the best way to avoid snacking on crap.
It takes some getting used to, but, once you get the hang of doing meal prep you will never go back. Now go cut up that cauliflower.
have smart snacks
Whoa, did we just talk about this?
Meal prep is meant for meals. However, when you are pregnant it sometimes seems impossible to sit down and have a full plate. Small snacks (especially with morning sickness) can seem to be your only chance of survival.
Remember that even plant-based carbohydrates like apples can spike your blood sugar. That’s why I advocate eating fats when consuming carbohydrates.
For instance, and apple alone will spike your blood glucose levels, but an apple smothered in almond butter will not only help you feel full for longer, it will also slow down the release of glucose into your blood stream.
Smart snack = always has fat and protein if possible. Need to eat a saltine? Top that sucker with a thick slice of cheese.
know your triggers
I already called myself out with my love for chips. So let’s roll with that analogy.
If I’m good, I’ll dip the chips in hummus, olive oil, and feta. If I’m fancy I’ll have some almonds and olives on the side.
But most of the time I end up forgetting the healthy dip all together. Somehow I end up crushing an entire bag of potato chips before I realized how much I was even eating.
This is why I tend to not keep any chips in my kitchen. Over the years I know and have identified my trigger foods. If I’m really stressed I go for sugar. Mindless eating? Bag of chips.
Becoming self aware of your triggers are one of the best ways to start making small dietary changes.
If you are addicted to Starbucks muffins – get your coffee somewhere else. Identify your downfalls and try your best to avoid getting sucked back in to bad food habits.
I just touched on my sheer power of being able to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting.
No girl, I am not talking about those tiny bags from the variety packs.
When does this feat occur? Usually during a solo Nexflix and chill session. My brain is switched off and my body is on automatic.
Mindful eating isn’t a foo foo new age phenomena. It’s simply knowing what you are eating the moment you are eating it.
When was the last time you sat at a table by yourself and spent even fifteen minutes eating without looking at your phone or watching TV?
Most of the time we aren’t even considering what we are putting in our mouths.
For me, mindful eating is knowing what you are eating, the moment you are eating it. Give it a try – eating healthier will be easier than you think when you actually stop to consider what you are putting in your mouth.
avoid emotional eating
This one hit homes. Probably for all of us.
Lucky charms reminds me of being five. Although my mom made most of our meals from scratch for breakfast we were allowed to eat sugar cereal. Lucky charms just happened to be my favorite.
Whenever I am in emotional crisis you will find me at the Safeway self check out with nothing but a family sized box. Although this doesn’t happen often, in our modern society stress is unfortunately part of our daily lives, and we all have that food that gives us a feeling of comfort.
If you find that your unhealthy comfort food is making a regular appearance on your plate – it could be time to seek some emotional support. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.
There are psychologists that base their practice on emotional eating. A few quick google searches will help you learn tactics to find comfort in other activities besides eating.
It all comes back to self awareness – lucky charms a few times a year is no problem – waking up at 4am after a bad dream to have a bowl – maybe time to seak out support.
no shame or blame
Listen. No one can change their dietary habits over night.
I’ve heard clients say, well I fell off that bandwagon on Tuesday, so I just ate everything bad for the rest of the day, and ate healthy again on Wednesday.
If I eat a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast, that doesn’t mean I’m going to have a bag of chips for lunch, and cake for dinner.
If you eat something unhealthy – who cares – eat something healthier next time. It’s not an on/off switch. You can’t shame yourself if you eat a twinky.
It’s a very slow, gradual process to change your eating habits.
focus on adding healthy foods
Focus on adding good foods first.
Start by auditing your dietary habits. Let’s pretend you are eating white toast every morning for breakfast. I would not start by telling you to stop eating white bread. Instead I’m going to suggest that you add an egg or avocado on top of your toast.
A sense of familiarity will still be on your plate. Adding something healthier to it isn’t much of a challenge.
You like nachos? Add bell peppers, black beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and guacamole next time.
A fan of pasta? Challenge yourself to add four vegetables to your sauce.
Start by introducing more nutrient dense foods to your favorite dish before you try to get rid of that food all together.
Where to go from here? It’s time to learn how to build a plate.
Read my post on how I build my meals, Carbohydrates, fats, and protein will be featured on every meal. It should come as no surprise that whole foods are the feature.
I hope this post makes you feel inspired to make start the process of making healthier food choices.
But remember, there is no shame in the food game. You are trying your best. Let your body do the rest.