Everywhere you turn, there’s some kind of health information being offered – on the Internet (ever confer with Dr. Google), in the media, and from well-meaning family and friends. And each “expert” tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Some of that information may do you more harm than good. I’m going to spill the beans about some common healthy eating myths – some that matter just as much or more than how much you eat.
Learning why “what” you eat and “how” you eat it are super-important. And here’s a shocker: Smoothies should be considered a meal and not a snack or beverage!
Everyone knows the common thread of intense focus on how much you eat. It’s actually gotten too much attention; while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health. For a change, let’s take a different approach toward the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy is being drowned out with research on some other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong though – limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight, but it’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we? I mean, you start out with 1500 calories day and that works for a while, but then you plateau. So you drop to 1200, start losing again, and then plateau again. So you go to 1000, rinse and repeat. Except you stop losing again, or don’t lose at all at that level, and then what do you do? “How low can you go” is only popular as a Zumba song, not for weight loss. Now, you can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat, and in fact, tracking is a vital component of weight loss, but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a variety of minimally processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods that come in a bag or box). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
- A colorful variety of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (BONUS: eating protein can rev up your metabolism!).
- Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). Some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
How you eat and drink
Pay attention to how you eat and drink. Studies are definitely showing this has more of an impact than previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
Let’s look first at “mindful eating.” Mindful eating means taking smaller bites, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, savoring every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes. We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
Thought so! That’s a pretty common quoted statistic.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be a healthy, easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (especially those leafy greens like kale and spinach!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness. Don’t misunderstand; a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient fast food, which is really junk food – just consider that large smoothie to be a full meal and not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast. If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
I posted this recipe in the Second Act Fitness Facebook group, so it’s appropriate for this post that I share it with you too!
Combine a handful of spinach or kale with 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 banana, 1 chopped peach and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla – always a good combo with bananas and peaches!) Add these ingredients to a blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better). Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk. Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
FYI: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.