Most of our diets include plentyyyy of carbs yet we skip out on protein and more healthy fiber rich carbs like vegetables.
The first step starts with “ADDING IN.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Instead of making a long list of what we CAN’T have, let’s start with foods that are good for us and add in more of those.
By ADDING IN lots of super healthy, nutrient-dense foods that give your body what it NEEDS, you will reduce cravings for empty calories, which make you feel hungry again within a short period of time, thereby making you consume even more calories.
For example: you have a delicious salad for lunch with lean protein, lots of fresh veggies and some healthy oil, you will feel good, comfortably full, and have energy, right?
When you do this, the less tempting sugary or salty processed is going to seem.
Our first goal is going to be to eat as many nutrient-rich foods as we can so that we crave less of the unhealthy, processed foods.
This can also help with our energy levels, mood, and of course blood pressure especially since processed foods are full of extra salt and sugar.
Try adding one or two new vegetables to your salad this week and see what you think.
If you normally like romaine lettuce, have that and add some spinach, kale, swiss chard or another new green that sounds good or interesting to you.
Vegetables can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: steamed, sautéed, eaten raw in a salad or as snacks. Vegetables make great stir fry dishes.
Many make a great “green smoothie” (one of my personal favorites).
Remember, the goal is to add more “real food” that your body recognizes and can absorb and utilize nutrients from.
Adding vegetables to your diet may seem like a simplistic thing to start with, but it’s an important first step and you will most likely soon notice a difference in how you feel.
If you don’t typically eat vegetables most days, you can start with a goal of 2 servings per day (a serving is between ½ and 1 cup) starting today.
Work your way up to 3 or 4 servings over the next few weeks once you figure out which ones you like and can add easily.
If you already typically have 2 servings a day, kick it up to 4 servings per day, then work up to 6 which is a great goal.
Remember: these are general recommendations.
You may find that you feel better eating certain vegetables, so be aware of how you feel after you eat.
The Super Six Ways to Eat Your Veggies
I remember struggling with adding vegetables into my diet.
I just didn’t love them!
I came up with 6 different ways I could start enjoying them, so I’m sharing them with you. Coincidentally, they all start with the letter ‘S’.
Soups - homemade – super simple, quick and easy
Salads - dark leafy greens and 2-4 other veggies with protein & healthy fat
Smoothies - add veggies to your smoothie – super quick and easy
Sides - with lunch and dinner (steamed, sautéed, roasted, raw)
Snacks - veggies and hummus for example
Sandwiches - add some greens and other veggies to make your sandwiches more nutrient-dense; choose lettuce wraps for grain free/gluten free option.
For me, the easiest ways are soups and smoothies, but see what you like. Taste and texture is the name of the game. Don’t think boring and bland; there are so many ways to add great flavors.
Choose Your Carbs Wisely
Carbs are not the enemy.
Say it with me: “It's the type and amount of carb you eat that makes it good or bad.”
What does that mean?
Enter the Glycemic Index (GI).
The GI of a food can be thought of as the impact it makes on the amount of sugar in our blood, circulating to all our organs, altering the level of inflammation in our system. “White stuff” - white sugar, white bread, pasta, potatoes – have a high GI. Sugar's GI is 100.
Here's a list of other high GI foods (the “bad” carbs) and there GI values:
Baked Russet Potato 111
French Baguette, white 95
Corn flakes 93
White Rice 89
Instant oatmeal 83
Puffed wheat cereal 80
Rice Cakes 82
Waffles, made from a mix 76
High GI foods often lead to emotional and physiological roller coasters, often associated with mood swings, skin flare-ups, and sleep disturbances.
Foods with a moderate to low GI have lots of fiber, or they are fat and protein-rich foods.
Fiber, fat and protein all promote even-keel blood sugar levels via different mechanisms.
Fiber expands in the digestive tract, slowing the entry of sugar from a carbohydrate source into the bloodstream.
Here's a short list of foods with a moderate to low GI (the “good” carbs):
Green Peas 51
Brown Rice 50
Black beans 30
Pearled Barley 28
Choose foods that have a lower GI more often and limit and/or avoid foods that have a high GI.
This will help balance blood sugar, stabilize energy levels and mood, reduce inflammation and will help maintain blood pressure.
Make a list of 4-6 new veggies you would like to try.
Start adding in to your meals to reach a goal of about 4- 6 servings of veggies a day.