Done right, food is the fuel that gives us what we need to get through our busy day-- but there is a dark side. Fatigue, irritability, digestive issues, depression, foggy brain, aches and pains, sleep disturbances and a host of other maladies that make daily living more difficult can be caused by the wrong diet. Food can wreak havoc on us, creating a battlefield of issues that we often don’t even realize are directly tied to what we eat.
The link between what we eat and how our bodies look, feel and function is stronger than ever. A healthy diet is far more important than a means to weight loss, and is being widely recognized as the cure for many chronic conditions and illnesses. Losing weight can actually cause harm if not done through healthy eating. Weight loss is almost always a by-product of a healthy regimen, that is, if you in fact need to lose weight.
If you’ve tried to lose weight through calorie restriction alone, you’ve probably already discovered that these diets aren’t a sustainable solution without a long-term healthy eating regimen. Typically, once the diet is over, we go right back to our old ways. Once we understand the role healthy food plays in a healthy lifestyle, we can finally forgo diets, and instead learn how to consistently eat better, and ultimately feel and look better.
We talked to Sarah Calamita, RD, CSSD, LD, the Dietitian at East Bank Club, to get her recipe for attaining long-term healthy eating habits. Sarah works with individuals and groups at the Club to create personal plans to ensure the greatest opportunity for success. She is an integral part of the Club’s Food Shop and Grill offerings, and she makes it easy for anyone to get the nutritional support they need. Here are Sarah’s seven tips to embed healthy eating into your life.
If you’ve had a relatively unhealthy diet for an extended period of time, it’s helpful to start your new regimen with a cleanse. A juice cleanse detoxifies the body; increases energy; boosts the immune system; increases mental clarity; decreases acidity and inflammation; reduces cravings; and improves overall well being.
Cleanses are a great starting point, and help you through the difficult first few days of detox as you eliminate certain toxins from your body. You will be replacing empty calories with crucial enzymes, vitamins and minerals to get your body back on track. After a three-day period, other healthy foods will be introduced to start you on your way.
East Bank Club offers a variety of juice cleanses that can help kick off your efforts with ease. They are available in the juice bar or you can find more information here.
Eating simply prepared meals with real food found in nature is by far the best method to keep you on the right track. You can’t go wrong with a meal that is 50% complex carbohydrates (primarily vegetables plus whole grains), 25% lean protein and 25% healthy fat. (SIDE NOTE: Leaving out important healthy fat -- avocado, olive oil, seeds, nuts -- is a common mistake that leaves people feeling hungry between meals and sluggish overall).
Using simple recipes and ingredients to prepare foods at meals or ahead of time (see the “Plan” section for more on this) is possible for some, but might be unrealistic for others. The Food Shop has a variety of freshly made balanced meals in their Fit Meals line that can be a great source of prepared meal options. Sarah has worked with the club’s chef to ensure these meals are delicious and healthy.
Knowing what you’re putting into your body is an important step in the process. Almost 75% of packaged foods sold in grocery stores contain added sugar. This ingredient can create peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels and lead to some of the maladies we described earlier. As a great first step, read labels and look for minimal ingredients that are comprised of real food and low or no added sugar. Sarah uses the rule of thumb that, “if a fourth grader can’t pronounce it, then it’s probably best not to eat it.”
You don’t have to be a nutritional expert (Sarah has that covered!), but you should have a general awareness of calorie counts, the most healthful preparation methods and serving sizes. Restaurants often serve portions in a single meal that contain enough calories for a full day. A little knowledge will eliminate some of the greatest pitfalls.
It’s difficult achieving a truly healthy diet without including an abundance of vegetables. If you (or your little ones) are veggie-phobic, it’s time to meet (and beat) that fear head on.
The benefits of vegetables could take up this entire article. It’s important to include lots of fresh vegetables in every meal, and that can seem overwhelming. Raw, plain vegetables can get boring quickly, but finding interesting, easy and delicious ways to prepare them will help you discover their magic. Consider the following options: roasting, grilling, spiralizing, juicing, blending, steaming, and sautéing. During winter months when the produce department looks a little tired, frozen vegetables are a great option. Don’t give up on vegetables, and they won’t give up on you!
Making time to plan out and prepare your meals for the week is an integral part of making a healthy diet work. Sundays are generally a good day to think about the upcoming week, and to make a meal plan for the next seven days. Going to the grocery store with a plan, and preparing (or ordering) meals ahead of time will make your success a reality. You should commit to approximately three hours of weekly planning and preparation. That is a small price to pay when you consider success is almost impossible without it.
Planning for emergencies is important as well. Keep a stash of healthful snacks in your bag or glove compartment. Nuts, dried fruit and healthy jerky will keep you in line when your day gets the best of you and you feel like heading for the drive-through.
Can you splurge once in a while? Of course! The trick is identifying and sticking to an acceptable level. If splurging is a daily occurrence, then it’s not really a splurge, is it?
Sarah likes to use the “90/10 Rule” for splurging. Ten percent of meals in any given week can be “splurge meals.” Not “splurge days,” but single meals where you can eat what you want. If you are eating three meals a day (21 per week), then two of those meals in a week can be splurge meals. You might find that your desire to splurge diminishes as you start to feel the negative effects of your guilty pleasure, but having a time and place for splurges can help your healthy eating regimen seem far more realistic.
Sarah offers a wealth of knowledge and support throughout your healthy eating journey. Look for her monthly workshops, or make an appointment with her to get your personal plan in place. She works with many different lifestyle and health issues including: frequent travelers, singles, families with small kids, pregnant women, food allergies, and much more.
East Bank Club | March 2016