Cultivating a healthy lifestyle and working toward wellness goals can seem like a daunting journey. It can be hard to know where to start and confusing to parse out fads from truth to determine what will really work for you. But one of the best places to start for your wellness journey is closer than you think – your kitchen.
You Really Are What You Eat
Many people think that adding exercise to their routine is all they need to do to get healthy. And while exercise is absolutely critical to keeping a fit mind and body, our dietary habits play an enormous role in helping us achieve (or miss) our fitness goals. What you eat can fuel or derail your fitness routine, keep you energized or sap your strength, and make you feel clear-headed or like you’re walking around in a fog.
But it can be difficult to understand what food really is nutritious and clean in a society where food is abundant, readily available, and often marketed as healthy but is actually quite the opposite.
So where do you start?
The first step on the path to healthy eating is to deeply commit yourself to the duration, menu, and structure of a clean eating program. Often, our dietary habits are formed over long periods and are very much a part of our daily activities and unconscious behaviors. We can come up with a handful of creative excuses on why we don’t, or feel we can’t, commit to better food choices. We often blame schedules, children, spouses, convenience, finances, or even lack of nutrition knowledge. These excuses are not insurmountable and you can work to overcome them and prioritize your wellbeing. It’s a hard truth, but once the commitment is made to improve your nutritional intake, it becomes much easier to focus on improving your lifestyle and wellbeing.
Once you’ve made the commitment to healthy eating, it’s time to take action. Take stock of everything you have to eat in your house. Read the nutrition labels and purge your home of anything that isn’t fresh, wholesome, or low in calories and nutritional value. Some of the most obvious offenders include highly processed foods such as frozen pre-packaged meals, snack cakes, chips, cookies, ice creams, granolas, candies, and sugar drinks. Additionally, food that’s high in sugar, sodium, or calories must be eliminated, and if you take the time to read nutrition labels and be honest with yourself about the quality of foods in your home, you may be shocked to see just how much low-quality and high-calorie foods you have collected and consumed. Many times, people who are looking to lose weight see some initial success just by getting rid of poor quality food and making better food choices at home.
Choose Nutrition over Calories
Now that you’ve cleared out the low-nutritional, poor quality food in your kitchen, you can make room for more nutritious and lower calorie food to get you on the road to cleaner eating.
Optimal nutrition requires a balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats where, and ideally, you want to get these macronutrients through lower-calorie options. There are countless options to consume quality carbs, proteins, and fats, so do some homework and find the high-nutrient, low-calorie food sources that best suit your tastes and ability to prepare. A few examples of high-quality, low-calorie foods that fall under these categories, include:
- Complex carbohydrates:
- Whole grains
- Complete proteins:
- Skinless chicken breast
- Lean turkey
- Fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and tuna
- Pork tenderloin
- Vegetarian choices include combining complementary sources such as black beans and brown rice
- Good for you fats:
- Nuts such as pecans and walnuts
- Almond butter
- Oils such as coconut, olive, and flaxseed
Add Variety and Keep It Fresh
Spicing up your food choices can make it much easier to stay on the clean and lean path. Eating the same meal day in and day out or eating food you don’t really like is a surefire way to slide back into old habits. But provided you stay within an appropriate caloric range and the proper macronutrient ratio, you can add enough variety to keep your meal choices interesting and satisfying.
While there is much demonization of certain macronutrients (carbs being one of the biggest so-called villains), the human body has a remarkable ability to consume a wide range of foods and sometimes variety keeps eating from becoming monotonous. It really is the spice of life! So embrace different foods, experiment with spices and flavors, and enjoy your healthy choices.
The Kitchen Can be Your Friend
When you take the time to evaluate the types of food you keep in your house, and commit to eating cleaner and healthier, you set yourself up for success. If you keep potato chips and soda in the kitchen, and then you consume them, you’re not a failure! Of course you’re going to eat what’s available to you. But if you take the time to read nutrition labels, purge your cabinets and fridge of unhealthy food, and keep low-calorie, high-quality food in your home, eating well doesn’t have to be a chore. A healthy body really does start in the kitchen, so keep yours clean.
Need a little extra help to clean out your kitchen? Reach out to Forge, where we offer immersive custom fitness and nutrition coaching to individuals all over the world. Our trainers and dietitian are all certified and ready to help you on your journey.