There's a plateful of suggestions and dietary opinions about what foods are best to eat and avoid. I agree it gets pretty confusing and challenging on what to eat. My goal as a nutrition consultant is to simply break down essential ways to eat sustainably.
The body is constantly balancing blood sugar and insulin levels, and these variables impact the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and signals the body to store fat. When there are imbalances, cortisol levels can cause the body wanting more carbohydrate foods. When diets exclude or drastically limit fat, the missing calories tend to be replaced with carbohydrates. The increase in carbs, usually refined and processed, causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
When we don’t eat enough carbohydrates from vegetables, we’re not getting optimal fiber, which is essential for proper digestion and metabolism. I strongly believe that diets for the extreme fat or carbohydrate program are not sustainable and can negatively impact your metabolism. However, I do think some people do better with more fat, and some do better with more carbs. Everybody has unique needs. Some people with insulin resistance or blood sugar imbalances do better with a low carbohydrate meal plan that offers benefits in a short-term approach.
Essential dietary fats help keep energy levels more balanced and provide satiety. Eat healthy fats with each meal, and instead of carb heavy meals, opt for protein or healthy fats– such as raw nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, olives, ghee, grass-fed butter, full-fat yogurt, grass-fed meats, and pastured eggs.
Our human vessel requires a lot of nutrient-dense foods to thrive. We do this by eating whole foods, which provide macro and micro-nutrients. We need macronutrients for energy– fat, protein, and carbohydrates– in large quantities. We need micronutrients for energy production– vitamins and minerals– in small quantities. The issue many of us run into with macronutrients is that diet programs tend to focus on calorie-based plans. It’s also important to acknowledge the nutrient density in foods and metabolism response.
A few handfuls of chips may provide quick carbs after a workout, but the nutrients and health benefits are much different than a handful of blueberries or a cooked sweet potato. The body responds to the real nutrient-dense food with satisfaction and better metabolism.
Many of the diet staples like olive oil, rice, legumes, and chicken provide the body with fat, protein, and carbs. The question is how much nutrient density and variety are you eating? How many various colors are in each meal? With a variety of colors in the meal typically we receive more nutrients. The macronutrient goals may be met, but the body still requires the rest of the many micronutrients to function at its best. Consume a variety of colorful vegetables– 2-3 different veggie colors each meal. The body’s metabolism can thrive and optimally function from extracting various antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Stress may seem inevitable in society, but it is often overlooked beyond mental health. Even minor daily stressors can threaten metabolic balance. And stress is the leading cause of all diseases, including stubborn body fat. The cortisol level in the body needs to be balanced in order to decrease cellular fat. If the body constantly feels stress, cortisol levels stay chronically high. The body has no time to lose fat when it’s in a fight or flight state.
All stressors are seen by the body as equal. Stress includes all of it: our thoughts, alcohol, high sugar intake, toxicity, not enough sleep, and imbalanced eating habits. Thoughts being the key driver to stress. External situations from work, people, and environment are not the stressors themselves but rather it’s your thoughts and feelings to these unwanted occurrences. The body is challenged with improvement when the mind is stressed. Studies show that reducing stress helps heal an imbalanced metabolism. I recommend practicing breathwork, meditation, stretching, yoga, exercise, walking, hiking, and getting outdoors to mindfully relieve stress.
Suggestions for high vibrational foods
Opt for whole foods with S.O.U.L (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, and local).
Citrus– lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit
Colorful fruits and vegetables
Dark leafy greens
Organic herbs– cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage
Probiotic foods– fermented veggies, sauerkraut, kombucha, full-fat yogurt
Raw brazil nuts, walnuts, and macadamia nuts
Pastured eggs and poultry
Wild-caught fatty fish
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil
Suggestions on eating habits
Have compassion with yourself. You may start off eating well and then get sidetracked– it’s OK. Just pick up where you left off.
Count the colors– not calories – you’re eating and the color of the real whole food packaging, not the pretty manufactured packaging.
Eat your optimal intake of calories. Under-eating is as equally harmful as overeating. *under-eating does not always allow for fat loss, esp. with an imbalanced metabolism.
Make sustainable goals and set intentions on what you feel you can do. Take slow strides– it definitely allows for a more attainable and long term lifestyle.
Allow the space for self-reflection; journal and track your progress.
Mindfully eat; thoroughly chew and stay focused on the task at hand– nourishing your body.