Project Healthy Jennifer
If you want to stop mindless grazing, insatiable cravings, periods of time where you eat to much, followed by not enough, if you want to FEEL like a healthy person you need to do these three things: Every. Single. Day.
1. Eat enough
That’s right, eat enough. Most of my clients don’t eat enough and then they eat too much. This is the perfect formula for gaining weight. Restrict, deprive, disengage from your fuel until your body throws a giant tantrum and you are head first in a bag of “Anything I Can Get My Hands On”, sorry…make that two bags, maybe even three. Often my clients are not trying to starve themselves, they just have no idea what to eat, or they are so disengaged from food after living years in a love hate relationship with it, that they check out. The problem is your body does not check out.
Every single time you restrict your fuel, deprive your body of the macros and nutrients it needs to function, there is going to be an equal and opposing binge (or series of poor choices) waiting for you. The kicker is often it is not the same day, or even the next day, but maybe a week down the road. If you manage your fuel you not only feel energized, but you stave off many poor choices because your body is not a heat-seeking missile looking to have its basic needs met.
So you need to eat enough fuel. How many calories should you eat? I really dislike this question! I mean, how would I know? Seriously! Yes, we can take your height and weight and get a rough idea of how many calories you need but then one has to factor in life. The reason I dislike the question is because it is another example of how we want someone else to navigate our body. No one can tell you how much fuel you need to be healthy. No two humans are the same, yes there are guidelines and those are where you start (rough idea of calories, whole, real foods-not processed) but then YOU have to take it from there and start listening to your body.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a formula to figure out how much fuel you need each day. That will vary depending upon your activity level. If you’re sitting at your desk all day, you’re going to need far less fuel than if you were climbing a mountain or spending the day chasing your kids at Disneyland. You have to listen to your body and pay attention to its signals. The best tip is to just go slow, we can always add more fuel, if we feel we need it.
2. Eat the right foods, make your calories count
Our bodies not only need food to function, we need the proper fuel. Your body is this perfectly programmed machine that is designed to run on protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. GASP, I said the “C” word! Listen, if it helps, take carbs out of your vernacular. I did, and I did for my clients too. We say fiber instead! Fiber is your umbrella for vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. PHB has a formula we follow, and you should too:
P+GF+F=A Healthy Body
So your body needs those three things to do its job, every single day. This formula gives you an easy answer to the seemingly complicated question of, “What should I eat?” Fueling your body should not feel impossible, nor overwhelming, and this simple equation guides you. What’s my protein? What’s my good fat? And the majority of your meal or snack should fall under fiber, ideally vegetables, and lots of them.
Have you ever wondered how you could eat a huge meal and feel hungry not long after? The reason why is your calories did not count! What that means is even though you ate enough, maybe even too much, you didn’t give your body anything it actually needed to run. You chose calorie-dense foods, highly processed foods like cakes, cookies, snack foods, fast-foods…you know, foods that are high in calories, but have nothing useful to help run your body!
Michael Pollan said the 7 most famous words there are for how to be a healthy person, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The foods he is asking us to eat are called nutrient-dense. What this means is make your calories count! A nutrient-dense food is going to be minimally processed and give you a lot of return on your investment because it is high in nutrients and every calorie counts towards your health! We are talking foods like kale, blueberries, sweet potatoes, salmon, quinoa, seeds, nuts, spinach, mushrooms, and avocado! You know, real foods. It is not so much about the calories, but what is in those calories. Foods like spinach, low in calories, mean you can eat a lot of it…fill your plate! Avocado, seeds, and nuts…a little goes a long way!
And just like no one can tell you how much fuel you need, no one should tell you what to eat either! This is just one of a million reasons diets DO NOT WORK! What makes me feel amazing might make you feel horrible! A food you thrive on might make your partner, or child feel tired and lethargic.
One thing I can promise you is the string cheese, reduced fat yogurts, low fat tortillas, diet cokes, sugar free treats and the enriched wheat thins you have been rationing out are not going to make you healthy! What they will do is leave your brain signaling you for more food, until it gets what it needs to run this body of yours.
3. Eat breakfast
I would say 9 out of every 10 clients who come to me looking to improve their health do not eat breakfast. Nothing. Just wake up, grab a coffee, and go. The 1 out of 10 that does eat breakfast eats simple carbs with no fat and very little protein. Think bagels, toast, cereal, granola, yogurt, pancakes, waffles, a non-fat vanilla latte. This spikes their blood sugar right out of the gate setting up a roller-coaster pattern of highs and lows, rushes and yawns. Both scenarios lead to weight gain and make for a pretty miserable existence.
You’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as a health coach, not eating breakfast is a huge deal-breaker for me. This is a nonnegotiable in my practice, I will not work with clients who refuse to eat breakfast. The name breakfast tells you how important it is, it breaks your overnight fast, stabilizes your blood sugar, keeps hormones balanced and sets the mood for your whole day. Your morning meal also replenishes glucose levels, which are essential carbohydrates for brain function. Breakfast provides the energy you need to jump start your whole day.
I realize mornings can be very rushed, and in your haste to get out the door and get to where you need to be it is feels easier to grab a cup of coffee and go. Easier? Maybe, but definitely not they best way to start your day. There are a few things you can do to ensure proper fuel for your day.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be elaborate, nor eggs every day. Make a little extra dinner and heat it up for breakfast. Nothing wrong with a breakfast taco bowl, or a steak salad. Food is food. So many people love having breakfast for dinner, there isn’t anything wrong with having your dinner for breakfast! Mix it up!
If you prefer breakfast foods, Pinterest is full of overnight gluten free oatmeal recipes you can make and take with you in the morning. Or maybe a chia seed pudding, though you have to watch the sugar in these, and make sure you add protein and/or fat if needed (nut butters, unsweetened coconut flakes, collagen powder).
Breakfast smoothies are another great make and take breakfast. Get everything ready the night before and in the morning add your non-dairy milk or water, blend, pour into your travel mug and go. As you stick to the PBH formula you can come up with some fun and creative ways to break your fast and fuel your body. I always use collagen for protein, then change up the healthy fats using nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butters, or coconut! Toss in a few handfuls of greens, maybe 1/2 a green apple, or some blueberries, and off I go! The possibilities are endless.
I promise if you engage in your fuel choices, make the majority of the foods you eat nutrient-dense, eat enough calories, and always start your day with a healthy breakfast your health will not only stabilize, it will improve.
When we have enough calories, and the right calories, our bodies can work efficiently, do the jobs they were intended to do and we can move through life feeling empowered!
We always love to hear your healthy food choices, please feel free to share breakfast ideas, or healthy recipes in the comments below!