Eating well does not need to be complicated.  Follow these 10 basic principles and you are well on your way to creating healthy dietary habits.

1. Eat Whole Foods!  Single-ingredient whole foods are always best.  However, sometimes we need convenience.  Not all processed foods are bad…some are actually quite nutritious. Think of canned beans, canned tomatoes, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned wild Alaskan salmon with bones… these are all processed foods. The foods I like to stay away from are the ones with hidden ingredients. Look out for red flags, such as added sugars, too much sodium, unhealthy oils, and ingredients that are complicated to pronounce.

2. Meals should be nutrient-dense.  As you plan your meals think of a balance of macronutrients such as lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.  Each meal should contain all three groups. There are also lots of micronutrients in the foods you eat, especially fruits and vegetables that are plentiful in vitamins and minerals. 

3. Eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, with the emphasis on vegetables. Make your plate look as colorful as possible with green leafy veggies, red tomatoes, orange carrots….you get the idea. Vegetables contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, and not to mention fiber for a healthy digestive tract.  So, pile up on the veggies! Vegetables can be steamed, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw in salads or as crudites.  

4. Be mindful of meal portioning.  We tend to overeat, and oftentimes not in the right proportions.  Big heaps of pasta, oversized burgers, and steaks are not ideal…Here is a simple way to design your plate: 

1/2 plate of vegetables with the majority as nonstarchy green leafy vegetables 

1/4 plate (1 palm-size for women – 2 palm sizes for men) of lean proteins

1/4 plate (1 cupped hand for women – 2 cupped hands for men) “smart” starch 

1 thumb-size healthy fats for women- 2 thumb-sizes for men

5. Eat 3 to 4 meals per day, depending on the level of activity of the day. Eat more when you have exercised, eat less when you have taken a recovery day. Listen to your body; If you feel cravings in between meals, chances are you have not eaten enough during your meals.

Eat Well & Thrive

6. Eat your meal slow and mindfully. Sit down and enjoy every bite. Try not to do work and eat at the same time, and avoid looking at your emails or watch TV while having dinner.  An easy hack is to put your fork down after each bite and make sure each bite is fully chewed.  People who eat slower tend to eat less and enjoy their food more as they notice the flavors and sensations with each bite.

7. Stop eating when you are 80% full. Chances are you will be plenty satiated to give you energy till your next meal.  By eating your meal slowly you are more inclined to stop at this 80% mark.

8. Drink plenty of fluids. Water makes up over half of who we are.  Therefore hydration is essential for every bodily function. Proper hydration prevents constipation, it provides minerals and regulates our temperature. Perhaps one of the more motivating facts about hydration is that increased water intake can increase metabolic rate. So drink up! Try to drink 2 litres of sugarless fluids per day. Hydration is key!

9. Home-cooked meals are the best.  It allows you to control the ingredients and therefore the quality. Meal prepping and planning will make your life easier, and it sets you up for a good start of the week. Batch prep/cook at the weekend so that you have meals throughout the week ready to go.

10. Lastly…PLEASE do not beat yourself up when you happen to indulge in dessert, a glass of wine, or pizza.  Just enjoy the treat…every bite of it, and reset the next day.

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