“You gotta nourish to flourish.”
As a dietitian, I often get asked about my own eating habits and the “food rules” I live by. I struggle with my response for two reasons:
- I hate rules, especially when it comes to food. It is important to reframe them as guidelines or practices.
- It doesn’t really matter what I eat. What matters is what YOUR body wants you to eat.
So before I dive into my own food philosophies, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to come up with your OWN eating guidelines. The beauty of being an individual is that we all have different strengths, characteristics, and challenges. This doesn’t become more apparent than with our nutrition and biology. What may work well for me or others, may not be what works well for you. So be open-minded, be willing to “try on” new strategies and approaches but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work for you.
You simply get to have a real Amy Phoeler moment…”Good for her. Not for me.”
You didn’t fail, the design failed. So redesign and move one step closer towards what DOES work for you!
That being said, I do recognize that hearing about other people’s habits can offer a starting place to inform our own. So I am offering up my guidelines, my approach, in the hopes that you will feel encouraged and empowered to find what works for you.
My Personal Eating Guidelines
- Make HALF of my meals and snacks produce (ideally veggies) and plan for this FIRST. I do this at home. I do this at restaurants. I do this at potlucks and parties. This is a visual metric I can take anywhere. And making my nutrition veggie-centric is extremely helpful for me for a variety of reasons but mostly it helps me get plenty of the good stuff that is energizing and fills me up.
- Listen to my body and pay attention to what it does and does not appreciate. This means, significantly limiting my consumption of dairy, gluten, soy, added sugars, caffeine, and alcohol (see below for the last two).
- Set boundaries around alcohol intake. If I am going to have alcohol, I keep it to 1-2 drinks and only on Friday and/or Saturday. Alcohol, in general, throws off my gut—especially so when I overdo it. So I try to keep it to a minimum. Call me boring, but the trillions of bacteria in my GI system are cheering me on and there is something to be said for being able creating your own fun and confidence, sans alcohol. But also let’s be real…I partake in the random, spontaneous crazy occasion once in a while…I am human after all. But I try to keep these few and far between and I do my best to restore my gut health as soon as possible after!
- Be realistic with meal planning. I don’t beat myself up over being super rigorous and structured with meal planning. I keep my Top 10 ingredients on hand to make my quick and easy meals. For more of my go-to tips and strategies when it comes to meal planning, sign up for my 5-day ecourse.
- Fast for 16 hours, roughly from 7pm-11am, at least 5 days per week. This is a newer practice but I am really enjoying how my body and brain are responding to it. Check out this article for more information on the logistics of fasting as there are many ways to go about it and also some individuals who this is NOT recommended for.
- Keep coffee intake to Saturday and Sundays and if I am going to have coffee during the week, keep it to less than 4 ounces in the morning, before 10AM. I am highly caffeine sensitive so a little goes a long way for me and too much leads to heartburn and headaches.
- Have a protein smoothie for a meal at least 5 days per week. This used to be my breakfast but since I have started intermittent fasting, I use it either as my first meal of the day or as a quick dinner in between clients.
- Use smaller plates and bowls. In our house, we use salad plates as dinner plates and we use small bowls (holding 1/2 cup) for everything from ice cream to snacks. When you see a big plate with the appropriate portion of food but plenty of empty space, your mind thinks its not getting enough. A small plate with the same portion feels more satisfying. It’s all a psychological mind game. But once you know the rules, its pretty easy to play.
- Take my vitamins and supplements MOST days of the week. I do not view supplements as the end-all-be-all. They are NOT a Bandaid for poor nutrition. I do think they should be used strategically and with intention to fill in nutritional holes, which can often be inevitable in our modern food environment. Here are the ones I take (please reach out to find out which could be right for you before starting or adding to your supplement regimen):
- Fish oil – to lower inflammation
- Lysine – to prevent cold sores
- Vitamin D – for all sorts of reasons
- Probiotic – for gut (and therefore, everything else) health
- Glutathione (in my smoothie) – to boost my immune system
- Collagen (in my smoothie) – for healthy skin and hair and for muscle repair
- Maca (in my smoothie) – for hormone balance
- Glutamine (in my smoothie) – for a healthy gut lining
- Make conscious indulgences and enjoy the hell out of them. Thai food, carrot cake, tacos, chai tea lattes…I’ve got my favorite foods like most other humans. And I eat them. And I truly enjoy the hell out of them. And I don’t feel shame or guilt. But as much as possible, even when indulging, I do try to look for these foods with ingredients that adhere to my food sensitivities.
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to her. She just blooms.”
Nutrition and eating is not a competition, its not about doing everything perfect all day, every day. And its certainly not taking one person’s plan and expecting it to be a perfect fit for you, your body, and your life. Remember the big takeaway from all this…FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Try any of these strategies “on” and see what works and notice what doesn’t. Don’t be critical of yourself, be critical of your behavior change design and redesign, if needed.
<3 Cheers to designing and redesigning, my friend! <3