In the era of the web and social media, there is an abundance of nutrition information circulating. It can be challenging to navigate and know what to do to adopt a healthy eating pattern. Eating well should not be complicated. Here are some fundamental principles to apply in your daily life.
1. Eat a Variety of Foods:
Varying your diet allows you to obtain a range of nutrients, flavors, and textures. Eating the same foods repeatedly can lead to dietary monotony and make it difficult to maintain healthy habits. You can diversify your fruits, vegetables (opt for a variety of colors to obtain different nutrients), whole grains (quinoa, barley, millet, buckwheat, rice, wheat, spelt, oats, etc.), and protein sources (fish, poultry, meat, eggs, tofu, legumes, tempeh, seitan, textured vegetable protein).
Explore different recipes and cooking methods: experiment with various seasonings, marinades, sauces, and cooking techniques like sautéing, steaming, or slow cooking. Check our recipe section for more ideas. You can also ask your loved ones or colleagues for their favorite recipes to inspire you.
2. Avoid Ultra-Processed Foods and Cook Basic Ingredients:
The more you cook at home, the better control you have over what you consume. At the grocery store, focus on fresh foods found around the perimeter and minimize your purchases from the center aisles (except for staple items like flour, grains, oil, and spices). Choose foods with short and understandable ingredient lists. Do you typically cook with pyrophosphate? No! So, opt for foods that don't contain it. You can also compare the ingredient list of a product to the ingredients used in a homemade recipe. If the product has three times more ingredients than your recipe, it's likely due to unnecessary additives.
3. Eat More Plant-Based Foods:
Without necessarily adopting a fully plant-based diet, increasing the intake of plant-based foods and reducing the consumption of animal products is associated with better health outcomes. In fact, meat or your protein source should only occupy a quarter of your plate, while vegetables should fill half of it. Make room for whole grains (barley, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, whole wheat, oats, spelt), legumes, nuts, and seeds. Plant-based foods are rich in fiber, which contributes to satiety and supports healthy digestion.
4. Listen to Your Hunger and Fullness Cues:
No need to count portions when you rely on the signals your body sends to meet its needs. Eat when moderately hungry and stop eating when the hunger subsides. If you struggle to recognize these signals, reflect on a few points. Am I eating too quickly? Am I multitasking while eating (working, watching TV, using my phone)? Do I always finish my plate out of habit, regardless of my hunger level? During meals, it's important to focus on what you're eating and the signals your body is sending. Turn off screens and take a break from work. Take 20 minutes to eat, allowing yourself to better sense satiety and to taste and savor your food. You'll feel satisfied with smaller portions.
5. Hydrate with Water:
Water should be your primary beverage of choice. Try to avoid sugary drinks (fruit juices, sodas) or sugar substitutes (even if they don't contain actual sugar, they contribute to maintaining a sweet taste preference). Sweetened beverages have a low capacity to provide a feeling of fullness due to the absence of fiber, leading to high calorie intake without realizing it. Opt for water first. If you prefer flavored water, here's a recipe to try. Moderate amounts of tea, herbal tea, or coffee can also contribute to hydration.
Remember, these principles should be tailored to your individual needs and preferences. For personalized guidance, consult a registered dietitian who can provide expert advice based on your specific circumstances.