Nutrition and diet info is everywhere!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in a different direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and if you are like me, has lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.  And it puts us in the mindset that if we just eat less, we will reach out goals.  But at what point does less become detrimental to our goals rather than helpful?

So let’s focus a bit more on 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 (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out lately by research on other factors that are just as important.  Don’t get me wrong. Limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight, but that’s just not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.

Portion sizes are certainly important, but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  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 array 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 increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (Avoid “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason 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 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

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savor 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.

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?

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest; therefore, it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies on the go, but drinking too much food can also contribute to weight gains and leave you feeling sluggish. Pay attention to what ingredients you include in your smoothies because you still need a balance of nutrients.

I love my Shakeology smoothie for busy mornings when I am in a rush to get out the door. They are a much better option than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal rather than a snack.  And don’t gulp it down too fast.

Which of these 3 areas (what, how, how much) do you need to focus on to reach your goals?