5 Step Cheat Code To Make Healthy Eating Simple

March 11, 2024
Simple Healthy Eating Plan

You shouldn’t need a decoder ring just to eat a healthy and balanced diet, but there’s a reason why it feels that way: 

That’s because there’s plenty of contradictory information floating around…

Carbs are good for you and fat is bad for you… 

Eggs have cholesterol and are either terrible for your heart or great for your heart… 

Fat is good for you and carbs are bad for you…

A glass of red wine each night has the same effect as an hour in the and will also make you gain a pound of fat a week… 

Red meat is a great source of iron, protein and vitamins but also a terrible source of iron, protein and vitamins… 

Eating organic must be the key to health if it didn’t also make absolutely no difference to your health whatsoever…

No wonder so many people are confused.

(Note: I’ll save the deep dive into the quagmire that makes up the collective food, agriculture, diet, supplement, and food marketing industries and why this confusion is the key to their billions upon billions of dollars in annual revenue for another day.)

Suffice it to say that if you want to make healthier eating a priority, you need two things:

  1. A foundational, practical, big picture understanding of food and how the various elements of a healthy diet work together to help you maintain healthy weight, lean muscle, and a strong metabolism.
  2. Simple and easy to follow strategies to help you get started.

Here’s an example of the latter – a 5-point simple healthy eating plan that will help you make sensible, healthy choices throughout your entire week.

Instead of agonizing over the latest studies, superfoods, and fad diet obsessions, try this easy-to-follow framework for starters:

Step 1: Prioritize protein

Dietary protein is the building block of muscle for your body, as well as providing numerous other benefits for cell, brain, and nervous system function. 

The reason this is the primary step in your foolproof healthy eating formula is because most people prioritize carbs and fats and leave protein as an afterthought. 

Even given the prevalence of red meat in the standard American diet, quality lean protein is often underrepresented in the diet. 

Rule of thumb: Have a serving of lean protein from a quality source at each meal. 

Step 2: Fill up on fiber

Fiber is derived from plant based foods that have insoluble fibers that can’t fully break down the same way other sugars and sugar compounds are. 

For that reason, fibrous foods do double duty by making you feel full so that you don’t fill up on other things (like fats and simple carbs) and they “sweep” through the digestive system to help move waste and toxins through the body. 

So after your lean protein serving, your next goal is to add some fibrous veggies like celery, leafy greens, beans and artichokes. 

Rule of thumb: Make your fiber serving double the size of your protein serving on your plate.

Step 3: Stack your carbs

Carbohydrates get a bad rap and are an integral part of a balanced healthy diet. 

Carbs allow your body to “spare” protein so that the carbs can be used for energy and the protein can go towards building muscle. 

There’s a lot of confusion, however, about what carbs actually are. Some people refer to bread and pasta as carbs while ignoring that fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, alcohol, and sweets all fall into the same category. 

Simply put, carbs are any food that ultimately break down into glucose upon digestion. 

For the purposes of eating a healthier diet, choose carbs in their natural state – i.e. beans, potatoes, peas, rice, and oats – and limit processed carbs, such as breads, cereals, and pastas to 1 serving a day. 

Rule of thumb: Eat your carb servings during your most active times of the day.

Step 4: Minimize sugar

I surprise many people when I say that sugar *can* play a very useful role in your nutrition plan. 

But, I always specify that there are conditions for this, usually related to the intensity of your training sessions, preparation for a race or active event, or as a part of a larger, well structured eating plan that you consistently follow. 

Under other conditions, and especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, the intake of simple sugar leads to its breakdown and storage as fat in the body. 

So, it is important to limit the addition of sugar in your daily caloric intake, whether it’s from your daily mocha choca latte, mid-afternoon trip to your co-worker’s candy jar, or nighttime noshing on chocolate and ice cream. 

Plus, there is mounting evidence that both sugar and sugar alcohols send signals to your brain to make you crave even more sugar. 

Gradually working to break your sugary habit will in and of itself reduce your cravings for sugar and dramatically change your palate’s tolerance for excess sugar. 

Rule of thumb: Divide the number of grams of sugar in a food or beverage item by 4 to get the equivalent amount of sugar in teaspoons and start to reduce your sugar intake to 4 teaspoons daily (after you recover from the jaw dropping realization of how many teaspoons of sugar you’re currently getting per day.)

Step 5: Eat your calories

Finally, it is easy to underestimate the number of calories, sugar, sodium and fat added to your daily calorie intake from sugar sweetened beverages and other liquids. 

Even fruit smoothies and shakes can pack anywhere from 300 to 700 additional calories (or more) onto your daily food intake, especially if you’re not using them to replace meals. 

Focus on eating instead of drinking your calories and consuming no- and low-calorie beverages such as water, tea, unsweetened iced tea, lightly sweetened coffee, and naturally flavored sparkling waters. 

Rule of thumb: Drink at least 8 oz. of water for every 2 hours you are awake each day and add more based on how active you are.

You can make these transitions all at once or gradually, but the core changes of this simple healthy eating plan will improve the quality of your diet and put you on the path to solid, health-promoting nutrition.

Stay fearless.

CC 💕

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