Usually when I share my healthy eating habits or someone comes across my Instagram page, I almost always get the question "How do you do it?" or "Where do I even start?" I find that to be the most common issue when it comes to adjusting your diet and lifestyle to a more healthy one - people either feel that there's no way they can commit to it or they have no idea where to start. And often times, it's both of those things!
Trust me, I totally get it. I've been there. I started shifting my diet to a more natural, real-food-focused lifestyle back in my college years and now that I look back, that was probably some of the hardest years to commit to a healthy lifestyle and I managed to succeed. I promise you can too!
This is the first of a two-part post where I'll be sharing quick tips to start transforming your diet (this post) and more general lifestyle choices (post #2). My goal is to help you make smaller, more manageable shifts that make a big impact. Then, what ends up happening for most people is that these shifts will make you feel so incredible that you'll want to keep going and make bigger and bigger changes.
Feeling your absolute best and most healthy is seriously addicting. When you have more energy, clearer skin, better sleep, and feel more confident in your own body (just to name a few), you will find that making diet and lifestyle shifts is one of the most empowering and motivating things you can do for yourself.
So let's get started with diet tips!
1. Drink more water!
Drinking more water is definitely the easiest tip I can give you that you can immediately start doing. So easy, however it is no less impactful. Drinking enough water is so important and I promise you'll be shocked at the differences you see when you start adding more water to your day. Read this article from mindbodygreen for a few of the awesome benefits. They include increased energy, improved skin, better regularity, natural headache remedy, and so much more! Another tip related to drinking more water is to invest in a large water bottle that you can keep filling throughout the day and track how many times you finish a full bottle. I have this one and this one and love them both.
2. Cut out dairy and gluten from your diet for just 6 weeks.
This is definitely my most drastic tip that will be the most difficult to implement. However, this also means you'll likely see the most drastic results. The reason is that these 2 food groups include some of the most inflammatory foods out there. Most people have sensitivities to these foods and don't even realize how much they are negatively impacting you. I completely understand that cutting out both dairy AND gluten from your diet may be a huge stretch for most people. If that's the case, I recommend picking just one to start. Cut out either diary or gluten and tell yourself it's only for a 6 week period. After those 6 weeks you'll notice increased energy, less joint pain, better mood, brighter skin, weight loss if that's a goal for you, and so much more. I am willing to bet that those changes will make you feel so good that you'll continue after 6 weeks.
3. Meal prep on the weekends.
This tip is the most important if you want to keep up with this new healthy lifestyle. Because if you come home from work every night to a fridge without any cooked food and you have to spend another 30+ minutes in the kitchen putting together your meal, odds are that you're not going to succeed. When you get home, you need already cooked protein sources + veggies + healthy fats to quickly throw together into whatever meal you're in the mood for. Meal prep for me often means cooking up 2-3 protein sources (for example: chicken breast, chicken thighs, and ground beef) so I have those to add to different meals throughout the week. Example meals with those meats include: (1) shred the chicken breast with a fork and add to lettuce cups with avocado and hot sauce, (2) add riced turmeric cauliflower and sautéed kale to the chicken thighs for yummy plate, and (3) make a taco bowl with the ground beef by adding romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, avocado, black olives, and olive oil! So many meal options by just cooking up some protein on Sunday!
4. Fill your plate with these three things first: healthy fats, quality protein, and veggies!
Whenever I fill my plate or bowl, I always make sure my plate has these three things - healthy fats, a quality protein source, and some veggies. If you build your plate with these things in mind, you're almost guaranteed it's going to be a healthy meal that will make you feel great and full for a long time. My favorite healthy fats are avocados, olive oil, coconut, ghee, salmon, and nuts. My go-to quality proteins are chicken breast, chicken thighs, ground beef, and salmon. (*Meat is where I recommend to always spend the money for organic, grass fed, and pasture-raised. It's even more important than buying organic veggies IMO.) Some of the veggies I love include kale, spinach, riced cauliflower, lettuce cups, micro greens, and cucumber.
5. Read the labels of everything you eat. If there's an ingredient in there that you don't understand, don't eat it.
This tip is a little more unexpected and not something everyone thinks about. The reality is that companies have such strong marketing teams that will write anything on the packaging to make you think it's healthy and a great option. Words like "natural" on a food label are not regulated by the FDA, so it's important to turn the package over and read the ingredients list. You'll be shocked at the long list on your favorite granola bar or the whole wheat bread you eat that you think is wholesome. Whenever the ingredient list is too long or there's items on there that sound like a science experiment, drop it and find something else. The best foods have no ingredient list at all!
I hope these tips help you get started towards your health goals! As always, leave a comment or send me an email with any questions. And if you don't already, give my Instagram a follow for pictures of my meals to help give you more inspiration.