I get asked often what I eat.
And it’s funny sometimes the assumptions people make.
They totally assume I eat whatever way the last read, or heard, was healthy. If they heard about Paleo and their friends have been getting results on that, I must eat some form of that.
If they lost weight on a lower fat diet, they may assume I do that.
They will asked me detailed questions about some of the most random, and in my opinion, unimportant dieting details ever!
When really my diet is nothing fancy.
I keep things simple. The simpler I keep things, the easier it is to create habits that last.
So here are MY SECRETS to a successful diet:
1. Prepare your grocery list before you go to the store. This prevents you from buying random crap or forgetting an ingredient you need for a meal. (I find that often people use the fact that they don’t have all the ingredients to make a meal as an excuse to go out and eat badly.)
2. Use the same basic grocery list every week. Keep things simple. Don’t reinvent your list every week and try to make new and fresh things all the time. Stick with the same basics and vary your diet every once in a while. It may sound boring, but it really isn’t and it makes things EASY, which is key to creating lasting habits.
3. FInd a few staples to keep around in case you need a QUICK and easy meal. For us, staples are things like tomato sauce and tamari. If I have either of those two things around with a protein, I know I can easily make a meal. Tomato sauce can be used for chilis or meatzas or even fake pastas with meat sauces. Tamari can be used to make an easy stir fry or fried rice with whatever meat and veggies you have!
4. Keep your meals centered around protein and veggies. I always make protein the center of my meal with veggies as a side. I don’t worry about having a certain amount of side dishes or even about the exact macronutrient break down. I focus on meat and veggies, knowing that focusing on those things will get me the nutritional profile I want. Then after that I worry about condiments and or other little additives to make the meal taste delicious. (And of course if it is a carb day, I’ll focus on healthy carbs).
5. Get high quality ingredients. Basically what this means to me is “READ THE INGREDIENT LABEL!” People buy the cheapest ingredients or fall for labels such as “healthy,” “gluten-free,” “low-fat,” “organic.” Those labels don’t equal healthy! There are tons of organic creams out there that have a ton of crap in them! And gluten-free foods can be highly processed! Don’t fall for sales labels. Read the ingredients and get quality stuff. I 100% believe that the quality of your ingredients affects not only your health, but also your fitness goals, be they weight loss or strength gains.
6. Avoid vegetable oils and gluten. Honestly, if you avoid these two things, I think you are on the road to a long, healthy life. While yes, I do try to eat grass-fed beef and organic, locally grown produce, I don’t even think that is near as important to your health as simply avoiding the two things above (although I do like supporting good farming practices to help encourage their spread and growth). So if you ask me what the most important component of a healthy diet is, other than listening to your body, I would say it is this – avoid vegetable oils and gluten! Aka avoid inflammation causing foods!
7. Listen to your body. I wrote a whole post on this recently, but it is probably the most important rule I follow and governs ever other tip listed here. I listen to what my body needs/wants. If I worked out more, I give my body more calories and more carbs. If I wasn’t very active, I will eat fewer carbs and calories. I respond to what my body needs. And yes, if my mind needs the break, I will even indulge in a cheat meal or two!
8. Know what restaurants around you have HEALTHY options. While eating in is ALWAYS better, it is good to know what restaurants around your home and work DO have quick and healthy options in case you need to eat out or your routine is really thrown off and eating home cooked food isn’t an option. Plus, I find by just having the option to eat out if you really want/need to, makes you even less likely to want to cheat on your diet.
9. Don’t be afraid to adjust. My diet is continually evolving. I’ve gone through periods of complete low carb. And periods of carb cycling. I’ve gone through periods of fasting and periods of eating 6 small meals a day. And as I settle more and more on things that work, the changes have become smaller…But my diet is still always changing. There are periods of time where I go super strict and then there are periods of time when I indulge in dark chocolate every single night and use a little extra cheese. I’m not afraid to make slight variations because I have a consistent base. I’m not afraid to LISTEN TO MY BODY and adjust instead of forcing my body to follow a set plan that may not be working. If you are flexible and listen, you are going to be more consistent than if you force yourself into a pattern that doesn’t really work (because you won’t be able to force yourself to do something for very long if it doesn’t seem to flow with what your body needs!)
10. Don’t be afraid to eat. This rule has numerous meanings. I think all too often people become afraid to eat bad foods. They eat clean for fear that one cheat treat will completely derail their process. There are also those people who watch all the documentaries and become afraid to eat anything that isn’t extremely naturally raised….like conventionally raised beef. But you can’t be afraid to eat! You’ve got to enjoy life and you’ve got to buy what you can. While yes, I do love buying grass-fed beef because the omega ratio is better and it is NATURALLY RAISED, conventional beef isn’t the worst thing out there! For one, it is still better prepping your food at home than buying pre-made crap. And two, conventional beef can be made healthier by simply cooking it in a good, healthy fat like pasture butter or coconut oil. So don’t think you can’t eat well just because you can’t get grass-fed beef or buy all the super expensive local and organic ingredients (although farmer’s markets are good if you are on a budget). Also, you can’t starve yourself to lose weight. More isn’t always more as we’ve discussed numerous times. Dieting is a balance. Everything in moderation! Just focus on eating whole, natural foods.
If you notice, none of these are things you haven’t heard before. Heck, they are things I’ve even stated numerous times before!
And none of them are exact magic foods you need to eat. There is no secret superfood for weight loss. Leaner meats, fattier meats…They can all be a part of a healthy, clean diet. It’s finding out what YOUR BODY NEEDS.
Honestly, if you take away only two things from this post, I hope they are, KEEP IT SIMPLE and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.