Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere! Each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone is at least aware of (and has maybe lived through) the intense focus that is on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. And I definitely don’t think it’s the best place to start. You can certainly still continue to count your proteins, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to where those nutrients are coming from.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
This is what you should aim for daily:
How you eat and drink
Make sure to also pay attention to how you eat and drink. Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food? (smoothies)
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes. This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness. The weight gain comes from the fact that most people skip a meal to drink a smoothie, but that smoothie doesn’t fill them up so they keep snacking. The sluggishness comes from the sugar crash from the high amount of fruit (often 2-3 cups) that are often included in a smoothie.
Don’t get me wrong, a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast. If replacing a meal with a smoothie, make sure to also include a spoonful of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds and make sure there is protein (protein powder or plain greek yogurt) and healthy fats (nut butter, avocado, coconut milk) to make it more well-balanced and satiating.
Summary: Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it when looking to improve your overall health.
Ginger Peach Green Smoothie
~ Serves 1
1 large handful spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 banana, peeled & frozen
1 chopped peach
1″ hunk of fresh or frozen ginger, peeled
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop of your favorite vanilla or plain protein powder
Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.