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The Best Way To Eat (And Still Enjoy Your Favorite Foods)

When it comes to eating healthy there are so many different sources of information out there telling us exactly how that needs to look.  Food has an impact on all parts of self:

  • The physical because it gives us energy and allows our body to work how it needs to
  • The mental because it triggers our pleasure principles in our brain which can shape our thoughts. Certain foods are also heavily linked to our memories which can recreate certain moments and their accompanying feelings (ex/mom’s homemade birthday dinner)
  • The emotional because it plays a big role in our mood – some foods make us feel happy, others make us grumpy.

So many diets or food “systems” recommend following a plan 100% of the time. If you don’t they reinforce how you have failed or the cost of “falling off the wagon.” My belief is that food is to nourish us, and it’s also there to enjoy even if it isn’t the most nutritionally balanced food.  Instead of punishing yourself for enjoying some of your favorite foods, instead focus on eating well healthy summer diets, food addictions, eating disorder help80% of the time and allow for some of those favorite foods (even if they aren’t always high in nutrition) the other 20%.

So here is what I recommend:

  • Take out words such as junk, treat, bad or guilt food. Food is just food. Instead of using those words replace them with the belief that food nutritionally supports us or it doesn’t.
  • Aim to eat food that nutritionally supports you 80% of time, the other 20% give yourself permission to enjoy foods that you really love, again whether they nutritionally support you or not. If you think of eating 3 meals a day this works out to eating 16 meals a week that are high in nutrition and 5 that may or may not be.
  • Realize that there is no perfect diet. Instead it is about listening to your body and giving it what it asks for. Be prepared to be surprised, sometimes our bodies ask for foods that our minds convince us we don’t like
  • Give yourself permission to eat until you are full. Restricting doesn’t allow you to enjoy your food to the degree that you should. The most important thing with this is eating until you are full and really tasting your food. This applies to both types of food – those high in nutritients and those that aren’t. Eat until you are full and taste the food. You may be surprised how much you love the food you thought you hated or how little your “favorite foods” actually appeal to you
  • Help yourself succeed by planning out your meals in advance. Setting a weekly meal plan is a great idea but if that isn’t something you see yourself doing then focus on creating a meal plan for 2 days at a time. This way your food is intentional and you are more aware of what you are putting in your body.

So take a moment to start listening. What is your body really asking for? What does it need in order to feel clean and healthy? What are the foods you most look forward to eating? Plan both of these into your day and I am sure your body and mind will thank you!

Let me know some of your favorite foods in the comment section below. If you are stuck on ideas for foods that nutritionally support you send me an email or comment below and I would be happy to help you think of some ideas!



{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Andrea Arbenz May 19, 2013, 7:06 pm

    Have always struggled to find healthy meals that are nourishing .
    I love chicken, salads, apples, hummus, peanut butter and almond butter,. Pasta and pancakes.

    • kaela May 26, 2013, 1:33 am

      Those are all great ideas Andrea! Have you ever tried peanut butter on the apples? It has become my latest go to snack when I need something quick that will tide me over for a little while. Thanks for sharing!

  • lisa Freedman May 20, 2013, 7:56 pm

    Hi Kaela…….Thank you for this newsletter. Just reading it made me a tiny bit calmer in my head. You are right about the cravings though…when I truly listen to my body I am sometimes surprised by what I crave. : ie- cauliflower and onions fried up on quinoa with walnuts. or sometimes at night…when I might crave sweets….I use my magic bullet and make a fruit ice…just water or ice cubes and frozen fruit…it is very satisfying without any sugar hangover….frozen grapes also work for me…very sweet, but they are so cold they make you want to take your time and eat consciously…Have a great day..Lisa

    • kaela May 26, 2013, 1:32 am

      Frozen grapes used to be my favorite when I was studying for exams Lisa, thanks for reminding me of them I will definitely have to have them again when the weather warms up! Great idea

  • Alyson May 30, 2013, 4:32 am

    hi kaela, thank you for this article. i really appreciated reading it! i am having a hard time and a lot of anxiety opening up to the variety of foods (and my cravings for some of them) mentioned here. i do have some healthy go-to snacks that i eat, like avocado & cream cheese on multigrain rice cakes, and low fat cottage cheese with peach or pineapple slices, but i find that i feel limited on a day-to-day basis because in my head i am still thinking in terms of “safe” foods. i often have cravings for something sweet during the day, particularly following lunch, but feel at a loss as to food options that feel manageable for me. i’d love to hear any ideas you may have! thank you.

    • kaela June 2, 2013, 2:08 am

      Hi Alyson,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I know how hard it is to step outside of what we have deemed our “safe” foods. Be proud of yourself for just being willing to try. Are you looking for food ideas that are sweet yet still not too high in sugar? Do you have any food group that gives you more anxiety than others? For example, I love taking frozen cherries (or berries) and blending them up with some coconut milk in my blender or food processor to make a home made ice cream. Another sweet thing that is healthy, sweet and doesn’t have the fat if fat is hard for you right now is frozen bananas blended with some cocoa (can you tell I like ice cream!). Or if you are wanting to expand outside of your safe foods try to challenge yourself by asking, which foods would be uncomfortable and which would be intolerable. When it comes to reintegrating food it is nearly impossible to have it just be easy. It often causes a lot of anxiety and emotion. That being said, I promise you it is still worth it to keep trying. There will be foods that will be hard but that you can tolerate the discomfort and others that will just be way too difficult. I recommend challenging yourself to those as often as you can. If you are looking for sweets to bring to work, as Lisa mentioned below frozen grapes are delicious…so is frozen watermelon. If you prefer cozy foods, have you ever tried baking an apple with some cinnamon and coconut or a touch of brown sugar? That is my favorite way to end a fall evening. Let me know if any of these hit on what you were thinking and if not, I will brainstorm some other ideas as well. Thanks so much for posting Alyson!

      • Alyson June 11, 2013, 3:41 pm

        Thank you so much, Kaela, for all of these great ideas! I really like your suggestion of blended frozen berries with coconut milk. I’ve tried this, also with cherries, a couple of times now. This was new and challenging for me as in the past I’ve always considered coconut milk too ‘rich’. I also like the frozen grapes and watermelons. I’m returning to work soon and am thinking about ideas for a) healthy lunches that are greens/grains/legumes based as opposed to bread, and b) ways of integrating one or two sweetish snacks that are naturally sweet and not overly sugary. I am really anxious about my return to work meal and snack planning as the office culture is one that emphasizes and encourages food/snacking/food-related activities (baking competitions, for e.g) as a way of socializing. Do you have any go-to websites or recipe books that you could recommend that might help me? Thank you!!

        • kaela June 15, 2013, 10:59 pm

          Hi Alyson,

          I can totally understand the anxiety around work and food culture. so many professions have this and it can make it really difficult to make healthy decisions. As for healthy lunches that are grain and veggie based. Have you ever cooked with Quinoa? It is my go to grain because my Fiance is a celiac and quinoa is gluten free. The best thing about quinoa is that it is high in protein, healthy, and makes for a great base for more hearty salads. I personally enjoy making a greek salad and having quinoa in it (mixed all together) or you can do a pesto based warm dinner that is quinoa, roasted mushrooms, peppers, onions and asparagus and pesto mixed together. It is great the next day whether you eat it cold or reheat it. You can make these in large quantities and eat them up to 3-4 days depending on your preference. I am not sure if you are comfortable eating pasta or not but if you are Orzo is great because it isn’t nearly as heavy as other pasta and you can mix a bunch of veggies into it for a quick pasta salad. Another option is to use grains like couscous. Again because my fiance is a celiac I don’t cook with as many of the delicious grains as I would like but couscous is great for making a Tabbouleh (not sure if I spelled that right!) or you can use Millet as another grain that is high in so many nutrients. Truthfully I wish I was someone who followed recipes more but I do a lot of my cooking off the top of my head. Sometimes when I am looking for ideas though I can check out Oh She Glows (www.ohsheglows.com) or I will flip through my Chatelaine magazine. The internet can be great for so many ideas.
          As a side note, if you are ever looking for a “cookie” to bring into work that is really healthy and doesn’t have any processed foods in it so you can feel better about eating it and still contribute, I make these homemade bliss balls (courtesy of my friend Jenn!). They give me great energy when I am needing it without any of the heaviness. Plus they are naturally sweetened with dates. Hope that helps to start. If you need any more help I am always here,

          wishing you well Alyson,

          1/2 cup almonds – grind these in the food processor first until finely chopped (about 10 seconds in mine)

          Then add:
          1 cup dried fruit – mostly dates but also a few apricots or figs and raisins or dried cranberries. All dates is fine too.
          1/2 cup coconut – or part coconut, part milled flaxseed; you could also quick oats in place of some of the coconut, or chia seeds.. basically this is the dry component and you can mess around with it a bit. I typically use unsweetened coconut just because the dried fruit is pretty sweet.
          2 tbsp peanut butter
          1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional but I always use it…let’s be honest chocolate is delicious!)
          1 tbsp water or coffee
          1/2 tsp cinnamon (it helps stabilize blood sugar and tastes great)
          1/2 tsp vanilla
          1/4 tsp salt

          Pulse the food processor on and off a few times until it makes a paste (probably 10-15 seconds total). Open up the food processor and try making a ball with some of the paste; if it seems too crumbly to hold together, add another tablespoon of water and give it another pulse. You could also add a bit more peanut butter. I don’t usually end up with an overly-sticky mixture, but if it seems too sticky to work with, add some more coconut or flaxseed, or you could throw in some oats.

          then shape it into balls. the end. They keep at room temperature, in a tupperware, for at least a week.

  • Alyson June 23, 2013, 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the great suggestions, Kaela. I really appreciate you taking the time. I’m going to try making the quinoa with greens first and then maybe later think about trying something like orzo. Thanks again.

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