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Ten Tips for Healthy Eating: Eat This, Not That

Written by Vanessa van der Linden, Certified Nutritional Specialist

1. Eat a protein rich breakfast

Start your day with a balanced meal filled with protein, fiber-rich carbs, and healthy fats to support stable blood sugar, improved energy, reducing cravings, and mental focus. Instead of a sweetened coffee, cereal, pastry, or skipping it all together, try one of these options:

2. Avoid sweetened beverages

 Beverages like sweet coffee drinks, sweetened tea, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and juices are filled with refined sugars that lead to inflammation, imbalanced blood sugar, energy spikes and crashes, and cravings. Instead of filling up on nutrient-poor drinks, prioritize having balanced meals and hydrating with one of these beverages:

  • Water, fruit-infused water, sparkling water, or water with a splash of fresh citrus juice
  • Tea, unsweetened (hot or iced). Flavor examples: green tea, hibiscus tea, peppermint, ginger, etc.
  • Coconut water, unsweetened.
  • Smoothie or green juice
  • Coffee, black or with a splash of milk of choice

3. Try a healthy dessert

Cravings for a sweet treat can come from not eating balanced meals (low protein and fiber, high carb), boredom, stress, enjoyment at social gatherings, etc. Instead of eating highly processed desserts made with corn syrup, artificial colors, preservatives, or overall very high amounts of refined sugar that lead to a whole host of health issues, choose one of these instead:

4. Ditch the store bought-dressings

Most store-bought dressings are made with refined vegetables oils like soybean and canola oil which are highly inflammatory fats that are best avoided. Luckily homemade dressings are easy to make and make salads even more delicious. Try these:

5. Choose healthy cooking oils

Fat gets a bad rap. The quality of fats you eat is what matters for your health. Avoid cooking (or buying products) with refined vegetables oils like canola, corn, soy, sunflower, and safflower.  Instead, swap these out for oils that contain healthy fats, lower inflammation, and can improve overall health:

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed Butter or ghee
  • Olive oil, best for garnishing, dressings, or low-heat cooking.

6. What carbs to eat

Whole food carbs can be a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and quick energy. They lose nutrient value and impact health negatively when they are refined into flours and sugars. Instead of filling up on highly processed breads, parties, tortillas, and pasta, try out these carb options and combine them with protein and healthy fats:

  • Root veggies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, yucca/cassava
  • Winter squashes: butternut, spaghetti, kabocha
  • Beans, lentils, edamame
  • Whole grains: oatmeal, quinoa, rice, millet, farro
  • Plantains/green bananas, whole fruit

7. The best breads, tortillas, and pasta

Although it is generally best to reduce refined carb products like bread and tortillas, there are some brands or recipes that make these favorite foods with simpler, more natural ingredients, higher in fiber and protein, and are overall higher quality. Here are some favorite swaps:

8. Swap for a healthy snack

Snacks can be a great addition to balanced meals to support energy between meals, before a workout, on a busy day, and even to support balanced blood sugar. Instead of grabbing for highly processed snacks like chips, high-sugar granola bars, candy, soda, sweet coffee, or crackers, try these protein and fiber-rich ideas instead:

  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, unsweetened with fresh fruit and nuts
  • Hummus dip with raw veggies and/or whole grain crackers
  • Chia pudding with fruit
  • Protein smoothie
  • Protein bar like Aloha, Rx Bar, IQ, or Chomps
  • Apple or celery with unsweetened nut butter

9. Thinking ahead for lunch

Lunch is the messy middle of the day that often feels difficult to navigate for many. Do you skip lunch, opt for a snack, or end up getting fast food most days? Instead, consider taking some time each week to think ahead and prep a meal or have ingredients on hand that you can make into a balanced meal quickly. Here are some ideas:

10. When, where, and how to eat

Nutrition affects the body in many ways including what, when, where, and how to eat. Eating in a rush, skipping meals, and avoiding your hunger and fullness can increase stress, impact digestion, and slow your metabolism. Instead keep these eating habits in mind:

  • When it is time to eat, aim to sit down away from work or other multitasking and enjoy the meal.
  • Take some deep breaths before eating, letting your body get into a rest and digest (parasympathetic) state.
  • Savor the sights, smells, and taste.
  • Chew well, eat slowly, and put your utensil down between bites.
  • Eat a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours and finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. 

If you are looking for ways to start implementing healthy habits into your life, check out our blog, where we share healthy recipes and monthly workout routines. Patients are also welcome to make an appointment at our Tustin Wellness Center, where they will have access to our services which include nutrition classes, exercise sessions with our weight resistance trainer, and mental health services focused on the individual needs of every patient.  Please call 1(800) 597-7977 ext. 507 for more information on any Wellness program we offer.