Not gonna lie, I’m in slight disbelief that the new year is less than a week away.
Seriously though, what happened to 2018?!
While this season marks the end of the year, it also signifies the beginning of a new, and hopefully better, year than before.
Most people write out their new year resolutions determined to make them a reality. But, as the year goes by, that fire in the beginning fades and those goals don’t always happen.
I’m speaking from experience because that was me. I would write out a list and barely make a dent in it (until this past year). In 2018 I learned that being intentional along with a solid plan of action, is essential to reach your goals and check them off that new year resolution list!
Because I created my blog to help you live a holistic lifestyle, I thought that it would be fitting to address how you can nourish your body with good nutrition. And it doesn’t hurt that one of the MOST COMMON new year goals is related to improving your health.
To help you kick off your new year health goals, I’m going to give you a breakdown of my favorite lifestyle tips tied in with some nutrition basics.
Make sure you stick around till the end to get your hands on my free e-book “Nourish Your Body: A Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Guide.” If you want to carry your health goals well into 2019 you NEED a plan. My e-book has sample meal ideas, food group recommendations, and my essential healthy lifestyle tips so you can rock this new year by nourishing your body!
My Health Journey (in a Nugget)
To give you some background, when I started my health journey 6 years ago I knew without a doubt I wanted to improve my health, but I was honestly overwhelmed and had no idea where to start.
At the time, I wasn’t going to school for nutrition and had to figure out healthy eating and living through different diet programs, research, and mistakes. But through personal experience and my graduate program in nutrition, I developed an effective system that contains healthy lifestyle habits and balanced eating that I’m going to share with you!
Adding new habits to your life and food in your diet is going to be an adjustment that takes time. So be patient with yourself and remember that good things don’t always come easy. It is going to be a challenge but I promise you, if you stick with it, you won’t regret it!
In order to help you build a foundation so that eating healthy can become a habit you acquire and prefer, it’s important that you have a basic understanding of nutrition and how particular foods nourish your body.
When you understand the basics of healthy eating and how your body uses food for nourishment, you’ll be surprised at how you view food in general and how it can help you adjust your current eating patterns.
When you eat, your food travels to the stomach where the body digests your meal by mixing it with acids and enzymes.
Carbohydrates from your food are converted to glucose (a simple sugar). In the meantime insulin is released from your pancreas. The body needs insulin to use glucose for energy. Without insulin, glucose stays in the blood stream, which keeps blood sugar levels high. High blood sugar can cause headaches, fatigue, or increase your thirst.
Later on, the stomach and small intestine absorb the glucose and use it as energy or store it as fat.
The 3 essential nutrients the body needs most
Protein is a nutrient that is found in the body and in the foods you eat. Protein gives you energy, helps restore tissue, and build muscle.
Foods with protein include…
- Ground Turkey
- Yogurt and Milk
- Nuts and Seeds
- Beans and Lentils
The body uses carbohydrates found in food as fuel for energy. As you learned, food is broken down in the stomach as glucose. Carbs that are not used as energy are either stored as fat or converted into glycogen, which is collected in the liver and muscles.
Foods that are carbs include…
- Whole grain bread
- Potatoes (Sweet, Russet, Red)
- Whole grain pasta
Your body needs fat for two reasons. 1, for energy and 2, for cell growth. Fat also helps your body absorb certain nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Good sources of fat are found in…
- Nut butters
- Avocado, olive, coconut, and MCT oil
Vitamins and minerals, which the body needs in a smaller quantity.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E, &, K are found in fatty foods (oil, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs). When taking vitamin supplements it’s important to eat fat with these vitamins so they can be dissolved in your system.
Fat soluble vitamins help with vision, bone health, protect cells, maintain healthy skin, and are essential for the prevention of bleeding, bruising, & blood clots.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, & C are founds in foods like fruit, vegetables, and protein sources. These vitamins are dissolved in water.
The vitamin B complex can generate energy, ensure muscle/nerve functioning, promote healthy metabolism, create red blood cells, and are essential for healthy bones, hair, skin, and eyes. Vitamin C helps to grow and repair tissue within the body.
The body needs 7 macro-minerals to function properly.
1) Potassium for muscle and nerve balance.
2) Sodium regulates fluid in your body.
3) Magnesium is essential for the immune system, muscle, and nerve health.
4) Chloride is found in tomatoes, olive and lettuce. The body rarely lacks it.
5) Sulfur helps build new body tissue.
6) Phosphorus is important in bone health.
7) Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong. It also is key for muscle functioning.
Phytochemicals are nutrients produced by plants with health benefits that may reduce cancer cell growth, inflammation, and fight disease.
Carotenoids are found in leafy green and yellow vegetables like broccoli, kale, sweet potato, pumpkin, and carrots.
Polyphenols are found in fruits like berries, as well as coffee and tea. They absorb free radicals, which can cause cell damage and cancer.
Berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries) are high in antioxidants and are considered the top cancer fighting food.
The Low Down on Fat and Sugar
In the 1950s a large and expensive 7 country research study was conducted by Ancel Keys. He hypothesized that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. However, he failed to include other countries in the study that eat saturated fat regularly and are disease free.
Even though a direct correlation between fat and heart disease wasn’t found, the expense of the study and industry behind it needed to move forward with a recommendation for the American public. As a result, the U.S adopted a low-fat diet regiment. Americans were guided to limit their saturated fat intake and instead supplement their diets with processed carbohydrates, vegetables oils, and fat free foods.
Keep in mind that regardless of research it is important to pay attention to how your body feels when eating certain foods. You may be surprised to find that healthy fats keeps you full longer and gives your body fuel with mental clarity.
As tasty as sugar can be it has no health benefit for the body. Sugar is found in fruit and broken down as fructose. It is also found in other foods with different names typically ending in-ose.
The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommend that women consume no more then 25g of added sugar (6 tsp.) per day. However, the less added sugar the better.
Sugar causes your pancreas to release insulin. Too much sugar from a sweet treat can overload your body, which can lead to a spike in energy followed by a crash. The body can use sugar for energy but what’s leftover is stored as fat.
Artificial sweeteners have the same impact as regular table sugar and should be avoided or consumed in moderation as sugar. The same holds true for fruit. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar.
My Favorite Healthy Eating Tips
Now that you have a solid understanding of how certain nutrients work in your body, let’s get into my favorite part…EATING (*wink wink*).
1) Listen to your body. Once you begin to eat healthy you’ll start to crave healthy foods regularly. Try your best to avoid unhealthy foods during your first week of improving your diet. If you have a craving, have a small bite of a food (versus an entire serving) to see if that helps satisfy your taste buds.
2) For health reasons, it’s best to consume alcohol less than once a week.
Alcohol is a carcinogen, which causes cancer, regardless of the serving size. If
you do drink alcohol, aim for no more than 2 drinks in one sitting.
3) Commit to workout at least 4 times per week but ideally 5, which includes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. The more you work out and eat right the faster your going to see results. Nutrition is 80% of the work and fitness is 20%. However, that 20% will most definitely speed up the process.
4) It’s easy to get bored when you’re working out alone so I recommend working out with a partner. If you workout alone try to implement different types of exercise into your routine, like yoga, barre, pilates, workout videos, a run on the beach. Changing up your workout routine will help you stay motivated.
5) The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promote a balanced diet, which includes eating from all the food groups, which I stand behind 100%. Balance is the key to everything in life, not just nutrition!
6) When you cook use avocado, coconut, or olive oil spray (Target has avocado
oil spray for $4). I recommend avocado oil because it is high in
poly/monounsaturated fat, which may prevent cardiovascular disease and
Alzheimer’s. You can also use avocado or olive oil spray on salads with
7) Avoid ‘fat free’ labels. Essentially, you want to eat as many whole foods as possible. Some foods with fat free labels substitute fat with sugar or artificial ingredients.
8) When cooking you can use as much seasoning as you’d like, but avoid salt. Too
much salt can increase your blood pressure and also cause bloating. If you are
going to use salt when cooking, try to use less than 2 dashes. I usually use
garlic powder, oregano, basil, chili pepper flakes, ground pepper, paprika,
cumin, and rosemary for seasoning.
9) The more whole and less processed foods you eat, the easier it will be to reach your health goals. The first 3 weeks will be a challenge, but once you get through it your body will adapt. By week 4, most people start to crave greens and natural foods in comparison to greasy alternatives.
10) If you’ve decided to minimize sugar, your taste buds are going to take awhile to adjust. It typically takes the body about 3 weeks to reach a point where it won’t crave sugar as much.
11) If you’re still feeling hungry at the end of the day, drink a glass of water or plain hot tea. Listening to your hunger cues and also identifying your feelings in the moment (i.e. emotional or bored) can help you assess if you’re truly hungry or possibly using food to cope with an emotion.
12) If you are truly hungry, my recommendation is to have some type of vegetable since most people barely reach their daily intake. If veggies don’t seem filling to you then assess the nutrition intake you’ve had for the day. If your missing 1 serving of fruit, have an apple with 1 tbsp. of peanut butter (this is my fav choice :])
13) Most yogurts have protein but are full of sugar (15g or more). I usually won’t
purchase a yogurt if it has 10g or more of sugar per serving.
14) You don’t always get the recommended dietary intake from the amount of
food you eat in a day. Because of that, you can miss out on vital nutrients. It’s
a good idea to start taking a supplement for vegetables in either a powder or
capsule form. Drink Pure Planet Best of Greens or Amazing Grass Green Superfood with your breakfast. The products I mentioned suggest mixing the powder with water but if you don’t like the taste you can mix it with a smoothie.
Nourish Your Body E-Book
Member how I was talking about having a plan of action and being intentional so you can reach your goals in 2019? Well, I got you covered!
My e-book, “Nourish your Body: A Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Guide,” contains sample meal ideas, tips for meal prepping, and food group recommendations. All you need to do is drop your email below to get a FREE copy.
This book has it all laid out for you. No other planning needed!
If you’re still unsure about making the next move, I want to leave you with this quote…
“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take”
So, what do you have to lose?!
- How Food Works: the Facts Visually Explained. DK, 2017.
- Williams, S. Rodwell. Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Mosby, 2001.