As an athlete and coach, I know first hand the importance of good nutrition. However, I know it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the large amounts of information about various diets that exist; should I eat carbs or not? How much protein? What fats are good for me? Should I eat differently depending on whether I want to lose weight or gain muscle-mass?
The thing is, since food is one of our basic needs – it shouldn’t be overwhelming and difficult. In fact here are three simple ways to get on track with a healthier more wholesome diet.
1. Change your food sources – eliminate processed foods and stick to wholesome foods.
This is the most important first step. Processed foods is the thief of a healthy diet, as they are packed with additives, sugars, stabilisers – you name it. It is impossible knowing what you put into your body or what the purpose of it is.
Wholesome foods are foods produced and ingested as it comes. Think of vegetables, grains , starches, nuts, meat, seeds. By eating wholesome foods you don’t ingest any unnatural substances and you will get the full nutritional value of that food. Natural foods can be superrich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Processed food on the other hand, isn’t, due it having gone through long processes of production that basically strips it of its natural nutritional values.
So therefore, review your current diet – what is processed and what is wholesome? Can you make any changes? Keep it simple!
2. Failing to plan, is planning to fail – Prepare for success!
Food prepping helps you stay in control of your diet. It doesn’t have to be tricky – just choose a couple of meals you enjoy and cook them in bulk. For the work week, you can alternate these dishes as you wish.
Personally, I like to make 2-3 main meals, with my protein sources being turkey, chicken, beef or fish. I then make two kinds of carb alternatives, my favourites being sweet potato wedges/mash and rice. Lastly, I ensure I fill my plate with any type of veggies that I enjoy. I always aim to get a couple of different colours in each meal – leafy greens such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, tomatoes and broccoli. You can really go to town with these ones, as they are quite low in carbs so can get a significant amount of volume from these.
For snacks – the same principle goes. If you don’t have a ready prepared snack with you, it is easy to fall in to temptation and grab whatever is convenient. Decide on what your morning/afternoon snack should be according to what your day requires of you. Are you working out after work? Then make sure you have a snack including carbs to help fuel you for your workout. Hard-boiled eggs, carrot sticks, oatmeal, nuts and berries are some of my staples.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed – set out to try this method for 3-4 weeks and allocate some time on a Sunday to get your cooking in. Each week, choose 2-3 meals depending on how much variety you need, and cook them in bulk so it feeds you for 4-5 days. Buy appropriately sized Tupperware to help you pack the food away, and try and keep portion sizes to a fist full of protein, 1.5 fist of carbs and as much veggies you like. To ensure you get some fats with your meals, add olive oil or nuts to your salads, fresh avocado to your chilli or even some coconut oil in your morning coffee.
3. Weekdays are for focus and convenience – weekends for exploration!
One way to ensure you stay on track during the weekdays is knowing you have the weekend coming up to explore perhaps some more exciting dishes. These should still fit within the wholesome food criteria, but here you can have a little more freedom. Don’t be scared to experiment with more intricate recipes and spices – this is how we learn and figure out what we like. Treat yourself to something you’ve been holding off from during the week – life is about balance and that also goes for your diet.