These are all reactions people have when they decide they want to be healthy or start dieting:
- Takes too much time
- Doesn’t taste good
- Too expensive
- Too hard to keep up with
- No variety
Not many people realize that it doesn’t have to be like that. Those 5 things above are all challenges, but the best thing about a challenge is to defeat it. Getting fit and fitness is not all about working out, it’s also about what you put in your mouth. You may think that the top 5 challenges at the top will be hard to overcome but being healthy does not mean you have to live by those 5 things.
What does healthy mean
Good health is not defined as the absence of disease. It is a state of well being that requires active participation on your part. There are several components to good health:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Spiritual Health
Physical Health or physical well being is the one you likely think about most. Do you have enough energy to do the tasks set before you? Do you get enough rest? Do you eat the right kinds of foods? Do you feel well? Do you feel fit?
The second component is Mental Health. Are you under stress? Do you enjoy life? Are you happy with who you are?
The third component of healthiness is Spiritual Health. Whatever your religious beliefs are, do you feel connected to them? Do you feel at peace? Do you feel you belong to something larger than yourself?
So as you can see that no where in that description did it say you had to kill yourself on a hard diet or have bland food that would take you a long time to prepare. Besides these three things though, you need to think what does healthy mean to you? Everyone has a different opinion of what healthy is. No one is exactly right but no one is wrong. So what does go into eating healthy food? The most important thing to healthy food or recipes is the nutrition aspect.
Food consists of two major categories. Macro nutrients and micro nutrients. Macro nutrients are the sources of energy within food that causes your body keep living. These consist of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Micro nutrients are all the other essential vitamins that are necessary for metabolic processes but give the body zero energy to sustain life.
A calorie is a predetermined unit to measure the amount of energy food contains. Carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram while fat contains 9 calories per gram. What does this mean? Well, your body uses x amount of calories per day to perform metabolic processes. If you eat more calories than your body needs you gain weight. If you eat less, you lose weight. I’ll teach you how to play with your calories and macro’s in another article to change your body composition.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose to provide the tissues of the body with energy to perform their functions. Carbohydrates are broken down into two categories. High glycemic index and low glycemic index. Glycemic index is measured by how much glucose is released into the bloodstream over the course of two hours.
High glycemic index is the release of a lot of glucose into the blood stream. These foods normally come from highly processed and refined foods such as white bread and soda. Eating large amounts of these foods has been shown to correlate with health issues such as weight gain, type II diabetes, heart disease and may actually interrupt metabolic processes regarding weight loss.
Low glycemic is the exact opposite. These foods usually consist of foods found naturally in the environment such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and whole wheats. Eat these foods to stay insulin sensitive (a whole ‘nother can of worms for another article) and promote weight loss.
Proteins are the next topic in our nutrition lesson. On the molecular level they are formed by one or more chains of amino acids. Amino acids are the individual building blocks that form these long chains and are eventually broken down and restructured by the body to fit a specific task. Proteins are an essential part of your body because nearly everything in your body is made of protein. Bones, hair, fingernails, tissue and even the enzymes that regulate metabolic processes in your body are made from protein. Fantastic sources of protein are usually going to be found in animal products such as eggs and meat.
Where to start? FATS ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU PEOPLE! There’s been a witch hunt out for fats in recent years and its completely silly. Your nutrition plan should always have some fat in it. Lets break down the categories for fats.
Poly and monosaturated fats are the good fats! So let’s put the torches and pitchforks down for these guys. They’re necessary for heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and even helping to reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus they taste good. Peanut butter is delicious isn’t it?
Let’s get after the bad guys. Saturated fat isn’t great for you, in copious amounts its pretty bad. But having some won’t kill you. Saturated fat raises bad cholesterol and helps increase your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is notoriously found in animal products such as meat and dairy products.
Trans fats. Where to begin… how about with eek? Trans fats aren’t found in nature except for in the stomachs of cows and sheep. Because of this there are small amounts in dairy products. Otherwise the only way its produced is through the man made manufacturing of food. Scary right? Trans fats lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol. They can be found in some bakery products.
- Reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt. You often can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor in healthy recipes.
- Make a healthy substitution.
- Cut back some ingredients.
We know you want recipes that satisfy your high standards of taste and health, but are easy and quick enough for a weeknight.
- Make creamy dishes without cream. Cream sauces are loaded with butter, heavy cream, or cheese. You can make your own sauce by using low fat milk and flour. Mixed together on heat will make it thick like cream.
- Try cooking with less oil. Extra virgin olive oil is better but just try converting to non stick skillets and pans so that you don’t need to over use the oil.
- Get Fried food without grease. Skip the deep-frying and just dip your chicken, fish, or vegetables into your seasoning or egg and bake on a wire rack on a baking sheet. This would create 40% fewer calories and 4 grams less of saturated fat.
- Replace the salt you use in your meals with sodium free flavor boosters like squeeze lemon or chopped herbs. Usually there are low sodium products already on the shelves in cans like beans or broth readily available to you.
- Use whole grains in baking. Use flour with whole wheat in it. This will boost fiber and B vitamins in your body.
- Swap good fats for bad fats. Keep saturated fat in check, use canola oil, olive oil, or coconut oil instead. Butter has seven times the saturated fat than oil.
- Use egg whites in place of whole eggs. Egg whites have only 16 calories and 0 grams of fat. Where as 54 calories and 5 grams of fat in egg yolk. Try using 2 egg whites in place of 1 egg.
- Slim down homemade ice cream. Instead of eating ice cream, eat frozen yogurt.
- Add grains or vegetables to meaty dishes. You want to not kick up the calorie level but still feel like you are eating a lot. This makes portion sizes bigger.
- Reduce Cheese, Keep the Flavor. Using less cheese gives any dish an upgrade. Find cheeses that have more flavor impact with fewer calories and less fat.
Example Healthy Recipes
Broccoli and Feta Omelet with Toast
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 2 slices rye bread, toasted
Combine egg, feta, and dill in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to pan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes; flip omelet and cook 2 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with toast.
Banana and Almond Butter Toast
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 slice rye bread, toasted
- 1 banana, sliced
The bananas and whole-grain rye bread are high in resistant starch, to help boost metabolism, while the almond butter adds hunger-curbing protein and healthy monounsaturated fats.
BBQ Turkey Burgers
- 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices sweet onion, grilled
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 4 (1.6-oz) sesame seed buns, toasted
In medium bowl, gently mix together turkey, garlic, paprika, and cumin. Form turkey into 4 (4-inch) patties; season with salt and pepper. Heat grill to medium-high; cook, turning once, until burgers are just cooked through (about 7 minutes per side). Serve with desired toppings and buns.