“Which foods are bad? Which foods are good?”
“How much of that should I eat?”
As nutrition coaches, we get these questions all the time! It’s our job to navigate our clients around the very confusing world of nutrition and wellness. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is tempted to do that crazy diet that their neighbor did because they dropped half their body weight in 30 days. Geez! It even pains me to type that scenario! Please don’t do crazy diets like that. Talk to me first, I’ll help.
Anyway! Let me provide you with a quick and easy guide to follow!
Let me start by saying…
Here at HellaBella Nutrition, we like whole foods. We like real foods that you find at the grocery store and local farmers market. We like sustainability for you and for the environment. Because of this, I am going to explain how to eat REAL FOOD!
Finding harmony and your best body through diet and exercise is all about balance. Of course, we can take it a step farther and say that LIFE is about balance. But that’s another blog post.
We like to educate our clients to build their plates using FOUR things:
- Lean protein
- Smart Carbs
- Healthy Fats
- Colorful veggies
Lean protein is vital to health!
Everyone needs enough protein to support his or her muscles, joints and connective tissue. Not super concerned about muscle? You should be! Unless you are interested in losing joint health as you age and slouching so far towards the ground that you never get to see the beauty of the sky again. Sorry, truth bomb. Without our muscle, we would be a puddle of skin, bones and fat on the ground. Sexy huh? Without muscle, you couldn’t move your body at all. And no, you can’t keep and build muscle just by exercising.
While protein is in almost every food, we like to coach our clients to find a “primary source” of protein. Simple put, a food that is much more protein than anything else. No, peanut butter is not a primary protein. It’s a dietary fat. Sorry guys.
Our favorites: Lean cuts of beef, tuna fish, chicken breast, lean turkey, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, white fish, shrimp, tofu, egg whites, jerky and protein powders.
Also great sources but a little higher in fat: Eggs, chicken thighs, all beef cuts, string cheese, lean sausage, salmon and protein bars (just to name a few).
Smart carbs are needed for overall health and sustained energy!
Carbs are demonized these days because they are over consumed with big portions sizes. Not only that but there is a difference between “smart carbs” and “simple carbs.” Smart carbs are jam-packed with vital nutrients that help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, balance hormones and blood glucose levels and much more. They even help burn stubborn belly fat by speeding up your metabolism! Your brain needs glucose (comes from carbs primarily) in order to focus and process information properly.
Our favorites: All fruits, whole grain pasta, barley, brown rice, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, quinoa, oatmeal, potatoes, sprouted grain bread, squash and more.
Healthy Fats are critical for cell growth and regeneration!
Fat is another macronutrient that has gotten a nasty reputation. Let me explain a few things about fat that will open your eyes and have you thinking about “refriending” this guy. Fat is vital if you want to burn body fat! Especially in those stubborn areas around your thighs, belly and butt! It takes longer to digest fats, so it helps you stay fuller for longer. Fat makes you happy because it’s needed in order to release your feel good hormones and neurotransmitters. It even regulates your reproductive health, sex drive and helps with the absorption of key micronutrients like vitamins A, D E and K!
Our favorites: Nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, olives, avocado and nut butters.
You know veggies are important! Eat all the vegetables you want! They are packed with nutrients and fiber that keep your body running smoothly and efficiently.
Our favorites: Cucumber, brussel sprouts, all types of lettuce, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, celery, green beans etc.
I encourage you to come up with your own list of favorites for each category. I find it helpful to provide a grocery list for my clients so they can start building meals accordingly.
Let’s create a few meals to help you get the idea…
- Egg, Ham and Veggie Breakfast Scramble
- Lean protein: egg whites and diced ham
- Smart carb: sprouted grain toast on the side
- Healthy fat: nut butter on toast
- Veggies: bell peppers, onions and tomatoes
- Sandwich and Salad Lunch Combo
- Lean protein: sliced turkey
- Smart Carb: sprouted grain bread
- Healthy Fat: avocado and light mayo
- Veggies: sprouts, lettuce, cucumber and onion with green salad on the side
- Shrimp and veggie pasta plate
- Lean protein: shrimp
- Smart carb: whole grain pasta
- Healthy fat: olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese
- Veggies: tomatoes, basil, spinach and broccoli with a steamed asparagus on the side.
We start to get in a little bit of trouble when we eat big portions. So think about your servings when you are building your meals. A general rule of thumb for you to follow is…
- 1-2 servings of palm sized of lean protein
- 1-2 servings of cupped hand sized of smart carb
- 1-2 servings of thumb sized of healthy fat
- 1-2 servings of fist size non-starchy veggie
Remember, we all have different dietary restrictions and preferences and that’s ok! Get creative and have fun building your plates. If you have more questions, simply talk to us! I would love to help you!