Before I start rambling about food, a subject I love, I ought to put a disclaimer that my views, education, and thoughts on food are continually changing. And I’m not a nutritionist, but instead a blogger/engineer that enjoys nutritious eats. I have, however, experimented with my diet and found what works for me: plant-based, wholesome and minimally processed. I would also attest that the food I eat makes me feel happy, fuels my lifestyle, helps me maintain a healthy weight and (as of late) has allowed my immune system to be better than ever.
I strive to have a good relationship with food – I don’t want to diet, I don’t want restrictions, and I want to enjoy food and enjoy my life. I see so many people, particularly women, trying to follow this or that diet, and they don’t seem very happy. Why go through life unhappy? If you limit or restrict yourself, you’ll always want what you can’t have. However, if you make small, continual changes towards a more clean, whole foods diet, you’ll likely develop a taste for the good stuff and stop craving fried, sugary, refined and salty things anyway.
I’m writing down some guidelines below that I follow – but I don’t really like the thought of “rules” and I don’t diet.
Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food – Hippocrates
I eat so that I feel good afterwards.
I eat lots of plants – a variety of colors and flavors.
I eat when I’m hungry but try to stop when I’m full.
I eat things I love and never feel sad or deprived.
I try to cook or assemble most things that I eat myself.
Some general guidelines that work for me:
- I snack on fruit at least once a day and have it at breakfast. Fruit has so many vitamins, antioxidants and flavor. It is a shame if you deprive yourself of nature’s candy!
- I have veggies, particularly leafy greens in my meals once, hopefully twice per day. Veggies just make me feel great and nourished. Smoothies are an easy way to sneak in veggies too.
- I add spices to my food. Spices not only add flavor, but pack a huge antioxidant punch! It’s fun to visit the spice cabinet and see what you can add. I’m loving allspice, cumin, and oregano (not together) lately.
- I eat dark chocolate EVERY day. It is the very best way to end a meal. I can’t even eat milk chocolate anymore – what a snob!
- I don’t limit carbs, but I do opt for wholesome grains that I try to cook myself. I often cook rice, oats, quinoa, millet or other grains for meals, though I do love a pizza or freshly baked bread every so often. I just don’t make refined grains a daily habit.
- I don’t go by a “vegetarian” label, but I’m fairly plant-based I eat meat/fish, but not much more than 1-3 times per week (I do eat eggs, yogurt or kefir, and honey often). I normally order vegetarian meals if they are available when going out or at events. I eat plant-based for health reasons and also because I’m saddened by conditions at most factory farms.
- I eat a lot of nuts and seeds – and avocado. They are delicious and great for you!
- I try to cook most of the time. Including the snacks I bring to work such as granola bars, and if I have a cookie craving, I cook them.
- I ALWAYS fuel before, during, and after workouts and I stay hydrated.
- I don’t drink sugary drinks. Because I feel horrible afterwards. I dropped soda and pre-made juices long ago! I mostly drink water, green tea, coconut water, milk (almond/cow’s), and very occasionally beer or wine. And the occasional juice at home or at a juice bar if traveling.
- I try to sweeten things myself with honey, dates/dried fruit, or maple syrup. These are all natural, delish options!! Refined sugar now tastes almost too sweet to me.
- I aim for 15-20g protein per meal, but don’t stress about it. Beans, eggs, and tempeh are some favorites.
Do these guidelines seem too restrictive? To be honest, these are things I don’t even think about. And I don’t think they’re rules, but rather things I do to make my body & mind feel GOOD. I’m not preaching these as things anyone should or should not do, but this seems to work for me. I’m sure you’ll find out what works best for you or maybe consult a registered dietician or doctor as needed.
Lastly, I’m by no means perfect. I indulge every once in awhile on sweet potato fries, I snack too much some nights, and I definitely go overboard on the tortilla chips some days. But, if I have a bad day I don’t get down, I just look at the next day as a new day and move on – every day is a fresh beginning!
Do you have any general guidelines or have similar eating philosophies? What foods make you happy?