by Daniele Hargenrader
It is a question that we ask ourselves on a daily basis: “What should I eat?”
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Overthinking things can often be one of the worst practices, as it often leads to inaction instead of making progress toward our goals. These simple principles will help anyone learn how to confidently make the important recurring choice of what to eat to live a healthy lifestyle.
Eat a diet that mostly consists of whole foods that are organic. Whole foods are foods that grow from the Earth and are not processed into something that is unrecognizable from its natural state. Some examples are vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters with only one ingredient, beans, organic or pastured eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken and grass-fed beef. Great places to shop for these ingredients are local farmer’s markets, community gardens and grocery stores that cater to health-conscious shoppers. With just the ingredients listed, the possibilities are only limited by imagination and a willingness to try new things.
Don’t skip breakfast, or any other meals. It is so important to make sure that no more than four hours go by without eating something. Whether the goal is to lose body fat, gain muscle or to maintain current levels of health, the human body needs consistency. Consistency lets the body know that it will be getting the nutrients it needs on a regular basis, not randomly and sporadically—which is confusing to the body, creates a chaotic internal environment and is a perfect recipe for holding on to stubborn body fat.
Water, water, water.
This is something that cannot be stressed enough. Water is the only liquid that hydrates the human body—not coffee, not soda, not juice. It is free, and it is arguably the most important thing one can do for the body to promote health and wellness. We should drink half of our body weight in ounces per day—it’s that simple. Commit to getting that much water every single day, especially in the hot summer months.
Don’t starve yourself.
One of the worst things that we can do to our bodies is intense calorie restriction. It is detrimental to the human body and its internal environment, and will never help with fat loss. The human body consists of about 11 interacting systems that work to keep us alive and well, and the only fuel that keeps those systems going is the food we eat and the water we drink.
No human should be eating 1,200 calories a day. This is especially true if exercise is being added in addition to changing dietary habits. If someone eats 1,200 calories (which is already perceived by the body as starvation mode), then exercises and burns off 400 more calories, the body is left with about 800 calories to perform all of the functions that it needs to perform every day. This is not only not sustainable, but extremely harmful. In this state, the body does not lose fat, but rather precious muscle mass.
The one thing that brings all of these recommendations together is a plan. Sit down, write it out and refer to it as often as necessary to stay on track and keep moving forward. Healthy eating is a choice. Give up the excuses and use that ultimate power of choice to create a happy, healthy future.
Daniele Hargenrader is a nutritionist, health coach and certified personal trainer. She founded True You Fitness, which helps people achieve optimal health and wellness. Connect with her at 267-281-4693 or Daniele@TrueYouFit.com. August 2014.