It is so much simpler than it looks! Many times people think, "eating healthy is so hard!" Or, "healthy eating is so expensive, I can't afford it!" Well, neither of those statements are true. The challenge is seeing through 'healthy' foods and 'healthy' marketing and picking foods that are actually healthy.
In a conversation the other day with my sister I said, "Forget counting calories! Counting calories is a waste!!" What the body needs is energy, AKA calories. If you are working out a ton, even over the course of a day or two, you need MORE calories. If you sit at work all day, then you will need far less calories. Your body knows when it needs to eat, so feed it and stop counting calories!
Think about this . . . the definition of a calorie. The literal definition of a calorie - all glamour diet and hype aside - is the following:
either of two units of heat energy.
the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules).
noun: small calorie; plural noun: small calories
the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods
You need calories and should eat a LOT of them to keep your physical body strong and healthy. The more you move the more calories you will need. Your body will always let you know when it needs more. The catch is giving your body the right kind of calories. When you consume a TON of calories in the form of chips or candy you still feel hungry because the calories consumed are NOT nutrient dense. So, if you shouldn't count calories, what should you count?
Personally I don't think you should count anything. I am anti-diet and pro healthy lifestyle. For me, part of a healthy lifestyle is choosing foods that are indeed healthy. To do this quickly and efficiently while shopping I start with Net Carbs.
Net Carbohydrates Defined
- Dietary Fiber
- Sugar alcohol
= Net carbs
If you have seen the term Net Carbs before you maybe have tried the Atkins Diet? Not me, but that is where a lot of people may have heard of it. Net Carbs represent the total carbohydrate content of the food minus the fiber content and sugar alcohols (if in the product). The Net Carbs number reflects the grams of carbohydrate that significantly impact your blood sugar. Foods that are low in Net Carbs such as nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits don’t have a significant impact on blood sugar and therefore are less likely to interfere with weight loss.
So, that is the easy first step to finding truly healthy foods. Hunt down foods low in Net Carbs and by default you will hone into truly healthy foods. I like to look for foods between 10-15 Net Carbs. That said, I am ok eating lots of fruits and veggies. So, sometimes I end up eating a LOT of carbs. For example, a banana has around 24 Net Carbs. That is a lot. On the other extreme; if you know any crazy triathletes out there, they may be looking for foods less than 10 Net Carbs per serving.
Give this a shot next time you go grocery shopping. Check the label and quickly look at the Net Carbs. If Net Carbs are close to 10 I will bet money that whatever you are holding is on the healthier side of healthy!
The second step to finding truly healthy foods is just as simple, and maybe simpler. Look at the ingredients. There shouldn't be that many ingredients. Ingredients should ideally be raw and from whole foods. You should be able to pronounce the names. What this means is pretty much anything people ate in the 70's and 80's can be thrown out. This is because in those years the citizen of the United States were tricked by the FDA into believing processed foods don't cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a whole lot of other health problems most Americans currently suffer from. If you ate fish sticks and tater tots as a kid you know this!! And, shame on you if you continue to feed yourself or your kids fish sticks and tater totes. These foods are heavily processed and literally designed to make you feel tired, slow, and hungry.
So with those tips in mind here is a recipe tip to keep in your pocket:
The Costco Acai Bowl
Costco Sambazon Brand Frozen Acai Berry Puree
So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Unsweetened (also sold at Costco)
Mixed Fruit (Costco berries and watermelon are great!)
Mixed Seeds (chia + flax)
Banana (high carb, so maybe, maybe not) - listen to your body
Trader Joe's Coconut Strips (super high Net Carb, careful now)
This bowel is NOT low carb, its HIGH carb, especially if you put everything on it. The carbs, however, are clean, healthy, and nutrient dense. You will need them if you have had multiple hard, sweat drenching workouts in a row, or if you are going into a long hard cardio and physically demanding workout. If you make this meal under these scenarios you will feel your body replenish itself with the clean and nutrient rich ingredients. If, on the other hand, you make this meal and don't move at all you will most likely feel full and sluggish from the sugars that contribute to the high carbs.
Most of the time you see unhealthy foods branded as healthy. The above recipe are healthy foods marketed as healthy, but under advisement because they are HIGH CARB. And, depending on your weightloss goals and activity levels you will either want to modify the recipe, avoid it altogether, or eat one and consider another!