Changing your Health through Food WITHOUT Going Crazy

We are all trying SO hard to change our nutrition, yet our diets don’t seem to be improving. 
It’s affecting everything from our health and wellbeing to our waistlines and energy.
What is going on?
Research suggest that it may be because because our common culture (or “diet culture”) tells us to focus on taking calories away from our plates rather than telling us what to add.
Diet culture says, “Get healthier by eating less! Less carbs, less fat, less (fill in the blank)”. While this certainly seems to make logical sense, it is oh so wrong.
This thinking is wrong for three reasons.
1. The first reason is that just changing the quantity of food on your plate is not the most successful way to change your health.
If you go from eating hamburgers and fries for every meal to eating half a hamburger and fries at every meal, you likely aren’t going to feel any better. 
Not eating enough vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients could cause you to feel tired or irritable, reduce your ability to fight infections, and/ or give you brain fog or memory problems.
You probably won’t feel healthy and full of life.
2. Two, if you are eating a lot of hyper-palatable, ultra-processed, nutrient-poor foods…. Well, these foods are designed by food scientists to keep us wanting more and eating more.
These kinds of foods are specifically manufactured to be hyper stimulating to our taste buds. But they aren’t very filling because they don’t have many nutrients.
This is why it’s so easy to overeat foods like Doritos and sweetened breakfast cereal (it’s NOT your fault!).
3. And three, if you are trying to lose weight (which may or may not be your goal), this strategy is tough to maintain. 
While you may be able to lose some weight initially by just counting calories or cutting out meals, if you feel hungry and unsatisfied throughout your day, it likely won’t last.
Our bodies are smart and when they feel deprived, they often increase our cravings to get to satisfaction. Long-term, this often doesn’t hold up. (Hello yo-yo dieting!)
So if just eating less isn’t the answer, then what IS the answer?

The Answer: focus on adding fruits and vegetables to your diet.

In fact, the Mediterranean Diet promotes a diet full of nutrient-dense food. 
Nutrient-dense foods are the ones that have the most nutrients per calories. These include fruits and vegetables and all sorts of whole food produce. These make up the base of the Mediterranean Diet pyramid. 
Foods like fruits and vegetables have so tons of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals per calorie.
These vitamins and minerals help activate the ‘nutrient receptors’ in your brain so that your body knows that you have received the nutrients that you need and you can stop eating.
Plant foods like vegetables and fruits also have a lot of fiber and volume. These activate the ‘stretch receptors’ in your stomach by taking up more space.
All this helps you eat less naturally, without having to spend a lifetime cutting out meals, cutting carbs or fats, or counting calories. 
But there’s so much more….
 All these vitamins and nutrients are also KEY for your health! Vegetables and fruit contain phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, in addition to vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. These can help to protect you from some diseases. 
Research shows that if you regularly eat lots of fruit and vegetables, you will likely have a lower risk of:
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart (cardiovascular) disease
  • Some forms of cancer
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
Plus, those vitamins can help us feel more energized, fresh, hydrated, and full of life.
Did you know that 80% of us aren’t eating enough veggies and 75% of us aren’t eating enough fruit, according to research out of Oregon State?
This leaves up to 88% of us not meeting our daily requirement for vitamin E, 52% for magnesium, 44% for calcium, and on and on. This leaves us susceptible to ailments like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lethargy, brain fog, and more.
Tip: Focus your diet around nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables
Fill up with lots of fiber, volume, and high-quality vitamins and minerals found in whole plant foods. This will help crowd out less healthy foods and help you meet your daily vitamin recommendations to protect against disease.
So, what types of produce should you eat? 
Quick answer: all of it, with lots of variety! 
Fruits and vegetables that are similar in color tend to have similar health-promoting properties.
Here are a few examples of colors to enjoy:
  • Red foods, like tomatoes and watermelon. These contain lycopene, which is thought to be important for fighting prostate cancer and heart disease.
  • Green vegetables, like spinach and kale. These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related eye disease.
  • Blue and purple foods, like blueberries and eggplant. These contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the body from certain types of cancer.
  • White plant foods, like cauliflower. These contain sulforaphane and may also help protect against some cancers.
  • Eat a rainbow of colors to reap all the benefits.
Build your plate around vegetables. Make fruit the center of your snack. Think about what you can eat and what you can add, rather than about what you want to take away.
Psychologically, focusing on what you can add is easier and more enjoyable than restricting. 
Here are some ideas for you to try:
  • Add spinach and tomatoes to your morning egg scramble.
  • Build your lunch around a base of leafy greens or vegetable-based soup.
  • Fill half your plate at dinner with any type of roasted veggies and have some frozen fruit for dessert.
  • Make your snack an apple with peanut butter, instead of pretzels with peanut butter.
By focusing on adding nutrient dense fruits and vegetables to your diet, you can crowd out the other foods on your plate. This will help you naturally eat less of them.
You will also jumpstart your health and energy throughout the day—helping you feel great today, tomorrow, and into the future. 
It wasn’t until I started focusing on adding fruits and vegetables to my plate that things really changed for me. I started focusing on adding fruit into every snack rather than restricting chips. Soon enough, I found that I was no longer reaching for chips—without all the struggle! 
We hope you enjoyed this tip for changing your health without going crazy. 
If you are curious about all things PROTEIN, check out this article. It covers, how much protein you need, how to get it, and whether more is better.  

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