Almost daily I have patients ask “what is the best diet?” or “I want to be more healthy, what should I eat?”. Those are very simple yet very complicated answers at the same time!
I always answer nutrition questions that my patients ask me with the same answer. “The best diet is the one you can stick to long term and actually make part of your lifestyle”. Too many people try these hardcore diet or diets that are completely different than their normal lifestyle and will burn out after a few days or a week and end up in a place much worse than they started.
The first step is to write out a typical day for your diet Monday through Sunday. You have to have an idea of what “normal” is for you. Once it is written out the changes are much easier to make. I also find that most people really don’t have a grasp on what they are eating on a daily basis and once it is in writing it is much more apparent.
After you know what a typical week of eating looks like for you, now it is time to make realistic changes for the next week that you can adhere to. Are you someone that has no problem cooking food at home or are you someone who hates to cook? I would never ask someone who doesn’t know the difference between a stovetop, an oven, and a microwave to start making a week’s worth of food at home.
The key to making long-term nutrition improvements is eating foods or flavors that you actually enjoy! Eating plain boiled chicken and asparagus tastes awful and is terribly boring, so why do it? There are countless ways to make “healthy” food incredibly tasty.
In my opinion, a generally healthy meal should have balance. A protein source, a carb source, a healthy fat source, and veggies or fruit. Some of my favorite fat sources are also some of the tastiest. Cashews, almonds, almond butter, avocado, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, these are all great fat sources that pair well with carbs and proteins.
One of the most basic and effective ways to improve healthy eating is adding color. What does that mean? If your meal looks very plain with no color, chances are the micronutrients in the meal are not very dense. Add sweet potato, peas, carrots, beets, spinach, zucchini, squash, sauerkraut, anything of color. Not only does it improve the nutritional value of the meal, it also is very aesthetic to look at and makes meals much more appetizing than plain chicken and white potatoes.
Balance and color are by far the easiest ways to start to improve nutrition. Don’t overthink it, food should be fun and enjoyable and not a burden. In my opinion, unless someone has an allergy or specific food restrictions due to a diagnosed health condition, then there is no reason to restrict yourself from any foods. Remember, the key is balance balance balance.