I have a confession to make.
When I started out as a personal trainer I had no clue what 'healthy eating' even meant. I knew what the books had told me about anatomy and weight loss but that was pretty much it. After my career as a dancer, (when all I cared about was being "skinny") I then stepped into the fitness industry and found myself surrounded by personal trainers who were either "bulking," "shredding," or "detoxing".
To be honest, I'd never had a positive role model around food.
Remember the atkins diet, the zone diet, the blood type diet, the raw food diet and the paleo diet? Yeah I've pretty much tried them all.
Fitness magazines would tell me to eat low fat, no fat, low carb, no sugar, high protein, high fat. Eeeekkk! It was information overload and still is to this day!
The biggest thing I see with clients trying to tackle a healthy eating plan is confusion around which foods to eat. We've been told so many different things over the last 20 to 30 years that people don't know which advice to follow. So I'm going to share some wisdom with you that I've learnt from my five long years as a personal trainer...
There is no diet that is right for everyone.
What?! Boring! Why can't I serve you up all the answers you've been looking for on a silver platter?
Because we are all so different.
Our lifestyle, our genetics. our hormones, our family history and our daily habits vary so much from one person to another. You and I could eat the exact same diet and get a completely different result just based on our age, genetic makeup and body type.
So for me personally, when I stopped focusing on calories and weight loss and started looking into the effect of certain foods on my health, that's when I felt the best I ever had. I'm not saying that I found all the answers and I'm certainly not perfect but breaking free of fad diets and changing my focus to what made my body feel good was a way to stop myself worrying about which foods I could and couldn't eat. I started to realise that choosing foods to eat didn't have to be stressful.
Figuring out what works for you is a matter of trial and error and I hate to say it but it's probably not the latest fad diet that Kim Kardashian is promoting on Instagram.There is no such thing as the perfect diet and finding something that works for you can take time but here are my five simple tips to put you on the right track...
1. Make your first meal a good one. What you eat at the start of the day can determine how you feel for the rest of the day. Try some different options for breakfast and see which one/s make you feel satiated while also giving you energy. My personal favourite is eggs, avocado and hummus.
2. Create some loose guidelines for yourself. I'm not saying you can never veer outside the lines and flexibility is important to maintain a balanced lifestyle but something as simple as 'don't drink coffee after 4pm' could be crucial to getting enough sleep if you know that caffeine affects your bedtime. I love red wine but my personal rule is to lay off the booze from Monday - Thursday (except on special occasions such as The Bachelorette finale night #dontjudgeme) because it ensures that at least four days of my week are alcohol free.
3. Reach for the real foods. If you're eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals then you won't need to stress about counting calories. Packaged and processed foods are usually lacking in nutrients and high in calories so eat as much fruit, veggies and salad as you can and save the processed and sugary foods as 'sometimes' foods.
4. Don't compare yourself to others. Like I said earlier, everyone is different so a diet that's right for you won't be right for everyone. Don't forget that "skinny" doesn't mean "healthy" and that healthy looks different on every body.
5. Be honest with yourself. Is your diet making you feel good? Are you eating foods that keep you feeling healthy and energised (most of the time)? If the answer is no then it might be time to make some changes. Creating change isn't easy and breaking habits takes time but it's totally worth it for your long term health and wellbeing.
When I was growing up my mum would say to me, "just eat everything in moderation" and I hate to admit it but I think Linda was right! In fact maybe I did have a positive role model in my life the whole time and I just wasn't listening. Which brings me to my next point...
Listen to your mother, she always knows best ;-)
Here's to a happy and healthy you,