Friday, October 14, 2011

Clean, Healthy Eating Tips

Recently, i've become totally convinced by several nutritionists I know and authors I follow that clean, whole eating is the way to go. This isn't a diet i've started, but a lifestyle change of how we should approach food for the rest of our lives. I'd like to share all the information i've learned lately with you because I believe that clean eating is how God intended us to consume food from the beginning and it's the most beneficial to our overall health. 

This is such an important message not only in America where obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are major health issues, but especially in the South where i'm from. I grew up in Mississippi (the state highest in obesity) and now I live in Alabama. 

If you'd like to check out my sources that changed my approach to eating, look at Kristen's blog "Naturally Free RD," Edna's blog "Shape the Delta," Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Diet,  and Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Eating and Cooking. And my motivation for honoring God with how I eat is Lysa TerKeurst. Check out her book and blog on "Made to Crave." Two other wonderful ladies that contributed to my new way of thinking are my friends Lindsey (Clinical Dietician) and Jordan (Health & Wellness Expert, Nutritionist). I know that these are just a few of the people out there who are promoting clean eating, whole foods and an active lifestyle.

Basic Principles of Healthy Eating:
- Eat clean and whole foods. In other words, eat natural foods that come from the ground or water (land and sea, people!) not that have been produced by man in a factory (such as hot dogs). If you were grocery shopping, you would want to mostly stick to the outskirts of the building in produce, fish and dairy. If fresh produce tends to go bad quickly in your home, you can also buy it canned (make sure it’s no sugar added or in light syrup) or frozen.
- Grill, broil, steam or bake your foods rather than frying.
- Eat a variety of foods. Don’t cut a whole food group from your diet such as carbs or fats. There are healthy options in these food groups. The only type of food you should totally cut out is Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs).
- Avoid processed foods that have added sugars, sodium and preservatives. Also, avoid white carbohydrates (white pasta, bread and rice).
- Add lemon juice to your water to increase the electrolyte value.
- Avoid empty-calorie foods and beverages (soft drinks and energy drinks).
- Whole grain is better than whole wheat when shopping for bread, pasta, crackers, rice.
- Avoid over-sized portions. Eat the recommended portion at your meals then if you’re still hungry, drink a glass of water or milk to feel fuller.
- Use honey, maple syrup, Stevia in the raw, or regular old-fashioned white sugar as your sweetner. Move away from artificial sweetners.
- To add flavor and increase your satisfaction when eating, use more herbs and spices.
- At least one day a week, don’t eat meat. A lot of people do “Meatless Mondays.” For just one day, try to eat like a vegetarian even if you love meat.
- If the increase of fiber in your diet is causing digestive issues, try drinking water with a tbsp of apple cider vinegar to ease digestion before eating a meal.
- An ideal post-workout snack might include whey protein. Try a whey protein shake such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.
- Take in more Vitamin C to boost your immune system, energize your body and help with burning fat.
- Eat 5 - 6 SMALL meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable, energy up, and prevent over-eating later in the day.

- Cucumbers and celery are awesome snack foods because they are rich in Vitamin C, help reduce blood pressure, help lower cholesterol, and act as a diuretic. They are made up of mostly water to keep you hydrated and flush out toxins. Eaten regularly, they can help prevent kidney or bladder stones. They have little to no calories so you can eat as much as you want. The water content helps give you clear, healthy skin (actually, clean eating in general will help you lose weight, have better skin, hair and more energy). They don't have any flavor so you can dip them in anything. I like to dip them in hummus for some protein or light ranch dressing.
If you’re feeling deprived, then eat whatever it is you’re wanting to eat when you want it. If you tell yourself that you can’t have that treat, then you’re likely to binge on it later. Allow yourself to eat it, but only have a small amount. Or, choose 1 day a week that you allow yourself that treat whether it’s a brownie, frappuccino, or cocktail. 
If you can, find a healthier substitute for the thing that you’re craving. If your craving the chocolate in a brownie, try to replace it with dark chocolate candy or chocolate flavored frozen yogurt. A healthy cocktail might be vodka with light orange juice, light cranberry juice or light lemonade with a slice of lime. Some girls like to mix a Crystal Light packet with vodka and diet soda. Guys might try a light or ultra-light beer. Having 4 oz of red wine every now and then with dinner has heart-healthy benefits.

How your dinner plate should look:
- Half of your plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables
- Ideally, your plate should be 1/4 fruits, 1/4 vegetables, 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 grains
- Make at least half of your grains whole grains
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt
- Drink 1 glass of milk or water with your meal
Think back to shows about the 1950s (Leave It to Beaver, The Wonder Years, Happy Days, Lassie anyone?) when moms served a meat, starch, vegetable, and fruit with a tall glass of milk for their family. For example, lean beef or baked chicken, broccoli or green beans, sweet potatoes or corn, and a side fruit salad. All the major food groups were represented along with a serving of calcium. This was a tradition that my grandmother still follows to this day. Not a bad idea! Why have we moved away from this?

Super Foods You Should Be Eating:
Greek yogurt
Fat-free milk
Lean beef
Beans/ lentils
Nuts & Seeds (almonds & walnuts)
Oatmeal/ oats
Olive oil
Butternut squash
Sweet potatoes
Red & yellow peppers
Asian pears
Dark chocolate
Cranberries (fresh or dried)
Green tea
Lean turkey (I like Jennie-O)

Daily exercise:
You can walk off pounds by simply walking in low intensity (slower pace) and high intensity (faster pace) intervals for 20 - 30 minutes every day. Walking in intervals allows your heart rate to get up faster and better than if you walk at the same pace for twice as long. 
For example, a slow place could be around 3.4 mph and a faster pace around 3.8 mph.
Getting your heart rate up is what makes your body start burning calories. Also, walking builds strength in your heart, lungs and muscles. The more often you do it, the easier it’ll become and the more you can do. Your muscles will become accustomed to the exercise and better able to do what you want of them without soreness or tiredness. Within a few weeks, you will be capable of running! Even if it’s a slow jog at the same pace as your fast walk.
Another great way to burn calories while walking is to do incline intervals. Switching from walking at a 0% incline to even a 2% incline helps build your muscles and shed fat. 
If you’re on a treadmill, you can work your way up to higher percentages of incline to simulate walking up a hill. Then lower your incline level as though you’re walking back down the hill. If you live in an area with hills, walk outside instead. Walking outside is better in that you get some Vitamin D from the sunshine, your workout goes by faster because there’s more to look at, and you get to breathe in fresh air. 
If you want to tone your biceps and triceps while walking (I know my triceps are a problem area), you can carry 2 - 5 lb weights in your hands and pump your arms as you walk. Your arms should swing like you’re a robot- fists pointed straight ahead and arms moving front to back rather than side to side in front of your chest. Your arms should remain at the side of your ribcage. If you can find a terrain that’s rough, such as sand, that’s better to walk in for building your calve muscles and toning the muscles under your booty.
Basically, walking has a lot of healthy benefits and is a great way to start an exercise routine if you’ve been sedentary for a long time. Running is the next best cardio exercise, even for just 30 minutes 4 days a week. If you can’t stand the thought of walking or running because you find it too boring, try moving more in ways that are playful, like playing basketball, swimming, playing tennis, frisbee golf, tag football, soccer, or taking up karate classes, dance classes, or yoga (which is great for toning).

The Ideal Day According to Nutritionists:
Upon waking up, start your day by drinking a glass of water before anything else such as coffee, tea or juice.
Take a short 20 minute walk (such as walking the dog, walking up and down flights of stairs, on the treadmill if you have one) before you eat breakfast.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup uncooked oats (oatmeal with whatever toppings you like. I like canned
  pumpkin or 1 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, Stevia, and dried mixed fruit)
1 glass of fat-free milk, 1 egg, 1 cup yogurt or added nuts to your oatmeal for protein
1/2 cup fruit (a variety of fruit, not just one kind)
1 glass orange juice (optional)
When you're at work, get up every hour and walk or move in some way. Also, sip on water all day. Don't wait until you're overly thirsty to get something to drink.
When it’s been 3 hours since breakfast, eat a small snack: 1 apple with string cheese,  1/2 cup nuts, 1 cup yogurt with berries, 1 banana, or whole grain crackers with hummus or cheese (I love brie, reduced fat mozzarella, feta, and swiss)
Before lunch, drink 1 glass of water, take a multi-vitamin and go for a short walk. It's better to take a multi-vitamin before you put food in your stomach, but be sure to eat soon so you don't feel nauseas. They can be hard on an empty stomach and make people feel woozy. 
Lunch: Rainbow salad with greens, different veggies or fruits, avocado, tuna or turkey or  grilled chicken or beans as lean protein, with an olive oil based dressing, and whole grain bread or crackers
Mid-afternoon: Drink 1 glass of water and take a short walk
Afternoon snack: 1 cup yogurt with high-fiber cereal, 1 banana with 1 tbsp peanut butter, or dark chocolate and fruit

Do your high intensity workout before dinner: 30 - 60 mins exercise including strength training. Drink 1 glass of water after and eat a snack if it will be a while before dinner.
Dinner: Start off with 1 cup broth-based soup like miso, gazpacho or minstrone.
4 oz grilled salmon, chicken, turkey, lean beef or other white fish
1/2 brown rice or whole grain pasta
1 cup vegetables
1/2 cup red wine from time to time

Dessert: Wait 1 hour after dinner before eating dessert. Try 1 cup fruit with chocolate syrup, apple slices with honey and cinnamon, or frozen fruit bars
After dinner, walk if you haven’t gotten to throughout the day and drink 1 more glass of water before bed. Aim for 8 hours of sleep.

Here's to a healthier lifestyle, losing weight and feeling great!

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