I used to think that as long as I hit my calorie goal, I was being healthy and was on track to reach my fitness goals. Prior to working my first nutritionist Jen, I had no understanding of how to properly eat for performance or health. My idea of a health snack was artificial sweetener filled Skippy peanut butter bites or a 1000 ingredient list protein bar. I had no concept of what a micronutrient was and all I cared about was hitting my protein and calorie goals.
Jen helped me understand that it is not just enough to hit your calorie goal and that if I am not getting enough micronutrients in my diet chances are I am not eating for optimal performance or health. I was blown away by how these simple changes helped me to feel better and I found that by working to eat a more wholesome and balanced diet I had more energy and felt fuller longer leading to less binging or overeating.
By working to eliminate or swap out highly processed foods in favor of whole, nutrient dense foods I found that I was sleeping better, lifting better and experiencing a lot less bloating. My cravings also went down and I found that I was making healthier choices more often because I was focusing on how foods made me feel rather than trying to just hit my calorie goal.
Eating healthy is not complicated nor should it be! Simple swaps can make all the difference in helping to get more micronutrients in your diet. Swapping fruit for chips or jerky instead of protein shakes are some easy changes to cut out unnecessary additives and sugar. The biggest shift for me was focusing on eating 2-3 different colors at each meal. By actively trying to eat a variety of whole, nutrient dense foods of various colors I found that I was creating a lot of fun meals that were not only tasty but also more filling. Now this isn’t to say that you should cut out all process foods and avoid all of the tasty snacks you love. The idea is to create more variety and balance in our eating habits and to try new things!
An example of this could be swapping your daily Diet Coke for a La Croix or making your weekday lunch turkey sandwich into a salad for a change. One change I made this week was swapping my usual stir fry rice bowl for lettuce wraps instead and trying sweet potatoes for my brunch hash instead of white potatoes. While rice and white potatoes are not bad or unhealthy at all, sweet potatoes and lettuce provide more micronutrients and add more color to my plate than their beige counter parts.
All foods have value and a place in our diets (yes, even pizza and ice cream!) however some foods make us feel better than others. I know that after eating a greasy pepperoni pizza I do not feel my best and that I do feel my best after having a well-balanced, colorful meal filled with wholesome macro and micronutrient dense foods.
You might be shocked at how much these small changes can make a big impact on your overall mood and performance! So, I encourage you to eat the rainbow and find new whole foods and healthy snacks that satisfy your cravings and add color and variety to your plate.
None likes a boring bowl of food, so get weird with your post work out eats, try something new! You might be surprised at how tasty the rainbow truly is.