Updated: Oct 2, 2018
The world of health and wellness has become incredibly saturated with information—almost too saturated if you ask me. The result is that we’re constantly being bombarded with information from a variety of sources, and oftentimes health-related discoveries can be contradictory. One day coffee is good, the next it’s bad. One day saturated fat is the devil, the next day "experts" are saying it's a new hero. It can be hard to not feel totally confused sometimes!
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if we’re overcomplicating things. Our bodies certainly have their own unique wants and needs, but surely there are simple pieces of advice that can improve anyone’s health—no overthinking required. Today, I reveal some of those.
My Super Simple Health Tips
Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
Sometimes we simply eat so quickly that we don’t give ourselves enough time to listen to our hunger/fullness cues. Other times, we graze on food all day just because we’re tired, bored, or even thirsty. And I know there are lots of “rules” out there about what to eat and when—such as eating five small meals a day or employing intermittent fasting—but no good comes from eating when you’re full and avoiding food when you're famished. Plus, don’t forget that it’s okay to be hungry! If you’re constantly snacking or overeating, you’ll put so much energy into digestion that your body will never have time do any “housecleaning” through its various detoxification processes.
MY TIP: Stop eating when you’re 80% full and eat slower. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to understand that you’re full!
2. See food as fuel.
Once I became more educated about nutrition, I started seeing food in a totally different way. I didn’t focus so much on calories so much as I did on the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients I was getting from different foods. As a result, I started structuring meals and snacks based on what my body needed throughout the day. I’d pick Greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt if I felt like I didn’t get enough protein that day, for example. Or I’d add some beans to my salad if I felt like my body needed a bit more fibre. Choosing particular foods for what they contain is an easy way to create a well-balanced diet for yourself.
MY TIP: Focus on getting sufficient amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, vegetables, antioxidants, healthy fats (especially omega-3 fatty acids), and water into your day. If you have a breakfast that’s mostly carbohydrates, for example, focus on having a lunch that contains more protein and healthy fats to achieve balance.
3. Know what foods make you feel like crap and avoid them.
There’s a common pattern I’ve noticed among people trying to lose weight in particular: They’ll eat extremely healthy for a few days—making their own salads, smoothies, and kale chips—and then all of a sudden they’ll binge on an entire pizza and three slices of cheesecake in one sitting. Then, they feel so guilty about their indulgence that they’ll take extreme measures during the following days, such as adamantly deciding to only eat raw vegetables for the rest of the week. While I certainly understand the intrigue of foods like pizza and cheesecake—and definitely indulge in them myself from time to time—I can’t help but feel a bit confused when people reach for these foods on a regular basis if they make them feel that terrible afterwards. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, if you feel like the worst person in the world every time you eat an entire bag of Smartfood, then the solution is quite simple: Don’t eat the entire bag of Smartfood! On the other hand, if you feel really good about yourself after you have a well-balanced meal, then keep doing that!
MY TIP: Avoid foods that make you feel like crap. And when you do decide to indulge, make that a conscious decision and realize it’s not the end of the world!
4. Set your alarm earlier.
A lot of people say they don't pack a lunch, don't eat breakfast, or don't meal prep because they "don't have time." FALSE. You don't make time. Many people aren't using their mornings to their advantage. Set your alarm just 30 minutes earlier, which will give you time to whip up a well-balanced breakfast like a poached egg on a slice of toast with avocado and spinach or pack a lunch.
5. Go to bed earlier, too.
Many people tell me they’re always tired. And yet when I look at their food diary, I see that they go to bed at 1 a.m. every night before rising at 6 a.m. Well no wonder you’re tired! While sometimes people have legitimate reasons for going to bed so late—such as working a night shift—I would bet that the majority of these people are going to bed late simply because they couldn’t resist watching an eighth episode of Scandal.
MY TIP: Set an alarm on your phone every night to signify when you should get ready for bed and don’t engage in any activity that’ll keep you awake for hours on end. (I mean, how many times have you found yourself watching your 90th YouTube video and wondered, “How did I get here!?”)
6. Don’t unnecessarily tempt yourself.
We can be so masochistic sometimes! For example, I’ll have some clients who claim that their biggest weakness is movie theatre popcorn yet they’ll go to the movies every week. Or they’ll keep some of their favourite unhealthy snacks in the house despite the fact that they’re trying to avoid them. WHY. At this point, you're just torturing yourself! If you know that going out for sushi will lead to you eating 8,000 pieces of tempura, don’t go out for sushi. If you know that your willpower turns to mush at the sight of a Kit Kat bar, don’t buy any Kit Kat bars! Please oh please do not torture yourself.
MY TIP: Throw out all tempting healthy snacks and avoid putting yourself in situations where you know you’ll binge eat.
7. Eat real food.
If you’re eating something that never expires, comes in a bag, or contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it likely isn’t a real food. Even if you’re looking to indulge, enjoy some cookies that you’ve made yourself from real ingredients rather than going to the grocery store and buying a box of cookies that have been sitting on the shelf for God knows how long.
MY TIP: Before you eat anything, ask yourself, “Is this providing anything useful for my body?” If the answer is no, it’s probably not something you want to be eating.
The Bottom Line
I get it: There’s a lot of information out there and sometimes it can be almost impossible to figure out what’s “good or bad” for you. But the truth is, adopting these above tips can help take some of the guesswork out of things while providing a ton of health benefits.