In this fast paced world we live in, one of the most challenging things to do is eat healthy. Let’s face it – grabbing the nearest “anything” is so simple and can provide temporary relief, but that doesn’t help us reach or maintain our health goals in the long term. I have seen over and over that trying to eat with balanced nutrition lends itself to leading a balanced and happy life.
I’m going to share with you some of my basic philosophies on balanced and healthy eating. I’ve tried to keep this realistic, but still consider most of our end goals: maintaining a healthy weight, good energy, solid sleep, and for some, losing a few pounds.
The 80/20 rule
If you can partake in eating whole foods 80% of the time then the other 20% won’t kill you. If your regular meals contain veggies, healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc.) and animal protein (if you eat it), then you are off to a solid start. I would suggest taking wholesome snacks with you on the road or to work to avoid damaging snacking. Throw some nuts, fruit or a Balance Bar – one of my favorites is Chocolate Peanut Butter – into your bag to help support you when you are hungry and need some fuel.
Control the portions
Not over eating is a very simple way to eat more balanced. When you go out to eat, immediately ask the server to put half of your food to go. Not only will you have a meal for later, but you will avoid over eating at one sitting. We have a tendency to take “clean your plate” literally and the truth of the matter is we simply don’t need to eat that much food. When you are cooking at home, serve your meals on a smaller plate and you will never know the difference.
Don’t avoid the healthy fat
We have been trained to be afraid of all fats but the truth of the matter is we need the healthy fats in our diets for so many reasons. Make sure you have enough good fat in every meal (nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, etc.). This will help you feel satisfied and avoid over eating. Not to mention there are a ton of health benefits to eating good fats, and one of them is better brain function which is helpful when we are trying to lead a more balanced life. I won’t even get into that it’s good for your bones, skin, and immune system.
Keep it simple
Consume foods with as few ingredients as possible, and make sure you can pronounce or at least know what the ingredients are. When you pick up a bag of food with 50 ingredients and the last 48 you can’t say or recognize, feel free to avoid. What’s great about lettuce is we know what’s in it. Now if I was going to get serious I would also say eat organic as often as you can because you want to avoid as many harmful pesticides, chemicals or hormones as possible.
Give up your worst habit
I don’t think it’s realistic to just switch your eating habits or take a full 180 degree turn. How about for today and this week you take out the one worst food you consume regularly. Is it soda? Try Pellegrino or club soda as a substitute. Is pizza your go-to for lunch? Try something new like tuna and a salad instead. Do not throw a bomb in your life that you know you can’t achieve – stick with something you’re comfortable with and get rid of your one worst eating habit. You can do it.
Variety is the spice of life
Try to fill your plates throughout the day with a rainbow of colors. We eat a lot of tan food and it is suggested that eating a variety of colored whole foods is always a great map to eating more balanced.
We know they don’t work and they often feel restrictive. Instead, look at food as something that should serve you and your end goals. When you reach for something ask yourself “how is this going to affect me and what I want to get out of my food”? Also, if you are reaching for something for pure pleasure then know it – slow down, enjoy it, and don’t beat yourself up. If you are grabbing a food item out of stress, then maybe take a quick walk to distract yourself.
Eat your calories and don’t drink your calories
Americans consume about 20% of their calories in liquids. Most sodas and juices are loaded with calories. Drink water and save the calories for the fun stuff. Not to mention so many times we feel hungry but we’re simply dehydrated. Being hydrated is imperative for balanced health.
Be kind to yourself
If you have an off day or week, don’t worry about it. Just get back up on the horse since each day is a new opportunity.
We are all just doing the best we can, and eating a balanced diet can be great support in trying to lead a balanced and happy life. I would love to hear how you all get it done. Any tricks or secrets are welcomed. You can even join me at the Balance Project at project.balance.com to share your insights or anecdotes.
Aloha, Gabby Reece
* Gabrielle Reece is a paid endorser for Balance Bar, Gabby receives compensation, including free product, for support of Balance Bar Company and its products.