General Healthy Plan for Eating

Not everyone visiting this site is looking to lose weight. Some of you just want to focus on maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Even if you are here to lose weight, this information below is what I will steer you toward after you lose your weight, so read up!

chicken chiliThe American Heart Association (AHA)  and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a lot of good information on what it is to have a healthy diet as a matter of lifestyle in order to manage weight and overall good health.  The American Heart Association recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily.  Remember, even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

Harvard School of Public Health Eat  emphasizes importance of consuming a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; choose foods with healthy fats, like olive and coconut oil, nuts and fatty fish; limit red meat and foods that are high in saturated fat; and avoid foods that contain hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats. Drink water and and limit or eliminate sugary drinks and cut back on the salt. Most important of all is keeping calories in check, so you can avoid weight gain.  Exercise is also a key partner to a healthy lifestyle.

The CDC says that the research shows that people get full by the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they take in. You can cut calories in your favorite foods by lowering the amount of fat and or increasing the amount of fiber-rich ingredients, such as nutrition-dense vegetables and fruits. Eating fewer calories doesn't necessarily mean eating less food.

The USDA discusses why it's so important to consume fresh vegetables and fruits in our daily eating plans:

Health Benefits of Eating Vegetables and Fruits

weight loss eating plan*Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

*Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.

*Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

*Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.

*Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.

Nutrients

*Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, or cholesterol.)

*Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.

*Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.

So What about Meal Planning for General Healthy Weight Management? The 80/20 Rule

salmon on cedar plank 480According to many of the health and fitness magazines, books, and blogs, many nutrition and fitness experts are recommending the 80/20 Rule – 80% of your food choices coming from whole, nutritionally dense foods (like veggies, fruits, lean protein, some whole grains) and 20% from the things you enjoy that might not be the best for your body (like birthday cake, milkshake, a martini, a beer, buttered white bread, loaded baked potato). There is a lot of reasoning to support approaching healthy eating in this way. Here are some points to consider:

  • You don't set yourself up for failure by trying to be perfect. Psychologically you need some wiggle room in your relationship with food. If you don't have space for allowed/planned indulgence you might be setting yourself up for an emotional crash and binge followed by further emotional crashing. Terrible cycle to fall into.
  • 80/20 Plan promotes LIFESTYLE you can live with. Though 80/20 provides wiggle room it also provides structure. Structure allows for the wonderful thing called consistency. Consistency helps us get and MAINTAIN healthy results. When you don't feel deprived, you can actually LIVE with this plan. Lifestyle not diet fad.
  • No more crazed obsessing about weight loss, dieting and food cravings. This plan enables you to KNOW there is room in your life to have those naughty foods and drinks. You plan for them though. You work them into your schedule and you stay on track. No more head-games. You indulge in a planned evening of Mexican food and margaritas and the next day you get back to your clean-n-lean eating way of life.

So what does 20% look like? How do you divide that time?

A good rule is to have a day of indulgence and get back to clean-n-lean for at least 3 days - preferably 5. Try never to have two days in a row of indulgence. 1 day of indulgence every 5 days is 20% of the time.  OR you could go out for Mexican or Italian and eat fatty, carb-laden foods with Sangria or wine every Saturday night and then one other day during the week have a piece of chocolate cake.  Do NOT make your 20% a binge.... If you're inclined to do that, you have some emotional issues around food that need to be addressed with a professional counselor (I can provide referrals to some excellent colleagues of mine!)

With this plan we do have wiggle room in our eating habits and we do not have to be perfect, but that we also must remain mindful. We can’t just claim balance without really considering what we put into our bodies. Do what works for you, but remain mindful…so you can consistently give your body the best in a way you can do for life.