Knowing What Foods to Eat

The first step to nutrition is knowing what foods are good for you and which ones are bad.

How do you know?

If you’re just starting out one way of knowing is by looking at the ingredients. Let’s say lays chipsyou grabbed a bag of Lays potato chips. In the ingredients section you will see things like sodium diacetate, maltodextrin, salt, malic acid, sodium citrate, and sunflower oil. To give you an example of what one of those ingredients are and why you should avoid it we’ll use maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is a highly processed white powder that is water-soluble and has a neutral taste. This ingredient is high on the GI meaning it will spike your blood sugar, so you would want to avoid it as much as possible but it is ok to have a small amount of it sometimes. It is added to food to increase the volume and shelf life of processed foods. The only time this ingredient is good for you is during a workout and you need a quick energy boost.

Unless you’re a dietitian, most ingredients you see from foods that come out of a box, bag, or can will look foreign to you.ingredients

Now you might be willing to look up every single ingredient from a food item before you get it to make sure it’s ok to have, but for most this is really time consuming and not something people want to do.

A simple method you can use to avoid eating unhealthy preservatives is by picking up a food item and seeing if you know at least 90% of the ingredients that go in that item. If you were to pick up a banana, for the most part, the ingredients that go into a banana is a banana. There are certain circumstances when added substances would be placed in a food item to make it bigger or smaller, but that isn’t something you should worry about for now.

Shopping on the outside of the grocery store is a good way to avoid a lot of the processed foods, and making sure you are buying foods that are rich with healthy nutrients that your body needs. The healthy items that tend to be on the outside of the grocery store are vegetables, fruit, dense carbs like potatoes, meat, and healthy fats like avocados. These food items don’t have a lot of added preservatives, and that’s what makes them the better choice.

Lets breakdown your protein, carbs, and fats to help you understand a little more on the foods we are trying to stay towards, and to get you to begin eating well balanced meals.

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For protein we want to stick to foods like chicken, lean beefs, fish, and some dairy like egg whites and milk. You have to be careful on the milk and fish because some have more fat than you need in a meal. Salmon and whole milk are two items that have this, and also beef that is not lean.

We want our carbs to be made up of mostly plant based, so foods like broccoli, kale, cucumber, and other leafy greens. You can have fruit for a meal or two, and same for your more dense carbs like brown rice and potatoes. Eating starchy vegetables makes you feel more full and allows you to eat more of them without consuming a lot of calories.

For the fats, we want to stay more towards our nuts and seeds, so peanuts, walnuts, and almonds are a few that make up this category. Peanut butter and some oils are good as well like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and peanut butter with the oil on top that you mix together. Avocado is another healthy fat that you can have.

To sum up a couple easy methods to follow when determining which foods are good for you are to look at the ingredients that go into the food and if you don’t know most of it then stay away. The other is shopping on the outside of the grocery store, by doing this you avoid buying processed foods that have added preservatives that are not healthy for your body.

Keep nutrition simple and be consistent with it. Below is an easy to follow guide.

Meal Guide:

  • 3-5 meals a day
  • There should be fruits and/or vegetables in almost every meal PLUS protein
  • Eat whole foods so shop mostly on the outside of the grocery store
  • For regular meals take a plate and make half of it veggies, 1/2 small cup of dense carbs like long grain brown rice, 1/4 of the plate protein (should be about the size of your palm), and fat the size of your thumb
  • Little sugar as possible, natural sugar is fine like sugar from veggies and fruits
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Drink roughly 2.2 liters or more of water
  • Avoid foods that come in a bag, can, or box

In the link below is a list of foods broken down into the 3 categories mentioned above to help you determine which foods are what.

Nutrition List

 


Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • Multi Bell Sweet Peppers
  • Cheese (I use Feta but any shredded cheese is fine)
  • Ground Turkey Meat
  • Long Grain Brown Rice
  • Chopped onions

Instructions:

  • Cook turkey meat in a skillet
  • Put water in a pot and then on the stove and let it boil
  • Place rice in boiling water and let it cook for 10 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cut tops off the peppers
  • Mix the turkey meat, rice, chopped onions, and cheese together
  • Begin stuffing the peppers until full
  • Place stuffed peppers on a pan and then in the oven for 15-18 minutes
  • Take it out
  • Let it cool
  • EAT

 


Staying on Track When the Weekend Comes

The biggest problem starting nutrition is staying on track when the weekend comes up. Often times I hear “I do really good during the week but it’s hard on the weekends because I go out and can’t measure”. You do great during the week because you have a defined schedule and either plan all of your meals Sunday night or you plan the night before and measure everything out. If you don’t measure then you at least plan what it is you are going to eat during the week for your meals. I know once the weekend comes up you want to go out to eat with friends or order in some food, watch movies and relax so it becomes difficult to keep up with it.

There are a few different ways to stay on track and keep moving forward toward your goal. One way is to plan for the whole week, including weekends. This way will get you to that goal they quickest. Another way is doing the hand method. I use this method because it helps me make sure I am still getting a balanced meal even when going out to eat. The way this method works is you will use your hands to measure things out. For carbs you want to stick to mostly vegetables; you will put both of your hands together and make a bowl. So, if you were to place all of your vegetables in that bowl you just made it should fit. For the protein you will take one hand and have palm facing down; then curl your fingers to where the crease past your knuckles are showing. Your protein food should be this size. The last hand measurement is for the fats. For this you would simply use the size of your thumb. The third method that can be used is if you eat from a plate you can simply take the plate and make half of it vegetables, a fourth of it protein and the other fourth your fats and more dense carbs like a sweet potato. All of these methods are very easy and just require you to know the difference between what’s a carb, protein, and fat.

Scroll over the pictures to see protein, carb, and fat

 

For more on nutrition you can go HERE

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Nutrition — A Beginner’s Guide

Nutrition can be complicated yet very simple at the same time. Let’s say you want to lose weight, the simple way to go about this process is following four easy steps:

1) Track your intake

2) Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains

3) Determine the portions

4) Drink plenty of water

A more complicated way to do this is by finding out your resting energy expenditure, your active energy expenditure, weight, age, body composition…so on and so forth. Unless you are a professional athlete or plan to become one then the four steps listed above are the best way to go about losing weight.

chartThe first step in the process of proper nutrition is to log what you are eating. This is called a food diary or a food journal of sorts. Using a food diary and actually logging your daily consumption of food will help you track and see what you eat. What often times happens is a subtle disconnect from what you think/say you are eating and what you actually eat. You may think that your food intake is not bad but when you review your log at the end of each week you will find that the occasional sweet, soda or something with empty calories does add up and works against your good efforts. Keeping a food diary also helps you recognize your good and bad habits.

Water consumption should also be tracked on your log. Drinking plenty of water plays awater huge role in not only weight loss/gain but also keeping your body overall healthy. Your body is made up mostly of water, and when you start to sweat you lose some of that water which then leads to dehydration and other symptoms that can be harmful to the body. Another reason why it is good to make sure you are getting enough water is because sometimes when you think you are hungry you are actually just thirsty. It turns out that the same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst. Signs of hunger is stomach rumbling and feeling weak; signs of thirst are headaches, dizziness, dry skin, and your urine being dark yellow. When you think you are hungry just drink a cup of water and wait a little bit. If you still feel hungry then you probably are and you need to eat something.
The second step to proper nutrition is to start making sure the foods you are eating are real foods, and what I mean by that is foods that don’t come out of a box. Most foods that come out of a box are processed which means they have added sugar or other substances in them to make their shelf life longer. There are different misconceptions on what it is that makes people gain unwanted fat. Some believe it is the carb intake while others believe it is the fat intake, but what it really boils down to is the kinds of foods you eat. In order for most diets to work it requires you to eat real food. For the most part that is the number one ingredient that goes into a successful diet. One tip to help with picking the right foods is when you pick up a food item look for the ingredients, if you don’t know some of the ingredients that go into it then chances are it is not good for you. An example of this would be if you were to pick up a banana the ingredients that go into a banana is banana, but if you were to pick up lays potato chips then you would see things like sodium diacetate, maltodextrin, salt, malic acid, sodium citrate, sunflower oil. Although I may not know exactly what all those ingredients are, I do know that if I were to eat a bag of chips instead of fruits or vegetables, I would most likely not lose weight or gain good weight.

Step number three for nutrition is portion size. When it comes to portion size there a few different options. One way of determining the correct amount needed is by using your hands! You can use the size of your palm for the denser carb foods like brown rice or sweet potato; then start at the bottom of your palm and go all the way to the second crease on your middle finger so if you were to look at the top of your palm and see the crease there then go one more and that is the size amount for your protein like chicken. For your fats, you would use the size of your thumb, but I like to go a little past because I love peanut butter. The last hand measurement you would need is the vegetables. For portionthis you would take both of your hands and put them together like a cup and that’s the amount you need in order to get the adequate amount of nutrients. Another way to handle the portion size is by using a plate. Now when I say plate I mean a normal size plate, not a tray! When you get the plate out you will make half of the plate vegetables, 1/4 of it protein, and then the other 1/4 you would split it into fats and dense carbs. The last way of calculating portion size is by actually measuring out your foods. Now I’m not going to get into all of that stuff in this guide because I want to make things simple and easy to understand.
In order for proper nutrition to work you need to be consistent. The more consistent you are the better results you will get. Being consistent doesn’t mean never eating an unfavorable food; it’s ok to have a slice of pizza or a dessert every now and then. Consistency means eating about the same amount every day, and making sure you eat real food. One way to help with being consistent is by meal prepping. Often times people venture towards whatever is convenient and so they will have that greasy taco for lunch from the food truck right outside their office, or eat the kolaches that are in the break room. With meal prepping this will help reduce the urge to eat those foods because everything is right there in your lunch box; breakfast, lunch, and a snack. Don’t get me wrong though, those urges will still be there if you enjoy those foods, but if you start to turn them down it only gets easier. One thing to do is stop and think if it’s really worth it. Is it really worth throwing away that end goal? Constantly having those foods is only going to set you back and make that goal that much farther out of reach, but by saying no you will soon start to create a habit. It only takes 2-3 weeks to start making good choices a habit, and if you can resist the temptation of eating those foods and start bringing your own food then you will soon be well on your way to success!

nutrition