FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTHY EATING PART III: EAT MORE GREEN VEGETABLES
If you've already read part I and part II of the Fundamentals of Healthy Eating series, you're armed with greater awareness around what you're hoping to achieve by modifying your diet (hopefully not just weight loss), and how your current way of eating is affecting your mental and physical wellbeing. Now that it's time to take action and make some changes, it's imperative you keep the concepts, and especially discoveries from part II, in mind. Continue to employ patience, compassion and mindfulness - all three are key to lasting healthy habits around eating.
THE FIRST STEP - 2 WEEKS
So! You're ready to dig that fork of yours into a big pile of health and wellness and wake up a changed woman, eh? But what the heck actually goes on that fork?
The conversation around nutrition in this country has grown maddeningly confusing. It can seem impossible to get straight answers to questions around whether or not things like red meat, gluten, saturated fats, or even little ol' brown rice are harmful or perfectly healthy. Add increasingly high rates of food allergies, hormonal imbalances, gut issues, and autoimmune diseases and no wonder many of us feel beyond overwhelmed when it comes to eating.
I literally spent YEARS wading through seemingly endless conflicting theories to try to discover what diet was best for my body. My own health issues combined with a history of disordered eating threw A LOT of complications into the process. Just when I thought I had figured out what was right for me, my body, the circumstances or "the research" would change. And you know what? That will always be the case. Because the truth is, there are endless variables that go into finding the best way to eat for any single person at any given time in her life. So rather than trying to find all the answers and the perfect diet for perfect health, I believe it's best to approach things from a slightly different angle.
You see, there are a handful of simple, unchanging truths to cling to in the ever-changing sea of nutrition information and confusion. Like little life rafts that will always be there, we can always come back to these foundational principles of healthy eating. They are beautifully simple, surprisingly transformative and undeniably effective for EVERYONE - regardless of age, circumstance or the latest research, fad or trend. What better place to dig into this whole healthy eating thing than with the first one?!
STEP 1: Eat MORE VEGETABLES - especially the green ones!
I know, I know, you're probably rolling your eyes at how simple this is. But bear with me here. Dark leafy greens are incredibly nutrient dense and powerful. They provide vitamins and minerals that amp up the immune system, improve your ability to fight disease, decelerate aging, boost cognitive function, support organ health, and promote the health and proper functioning of everything from your eyeballs to your colon. You're doing your brain and body HUGE favors if you can eat something green at every meal. I know that might sound a little crazy at first. If you're not a fan of greens or not eating them daily, just start with working something green into 1 meal each day (dinner is probably the easiest) and work up from there. Here are a few tips to help you make it happen, regardless of your starting point.
Add 1 cup raw spinach, shredded steamed kale or swiss chard to an omelette in the morning
Serve your poached or fried eggs on a bed of 1-2 cups raw arugula
Add spinach or sautéed kale to any breakfast sandwich
Add a big handful of spinach, and/or 1/4 cup of frozen peas to any smoothie - you wont be able to taste either!
Don't mind an earthier tasting smoothie? Add 1-2 big leaves of raw kale or chard, or the tops from a bunch of beets, radishes, turnips or carrots!
Having cereal or oatmeal? Have a green juice on the side (steer clear of the green juices that are mostly fruit. We'll talk about that later!)
Add 1 cup Kale or the tops from a bunch of carrots to your favorite pesto recipe
Swap your usual lunch sandwich or wrap for a salad of mixed greens + lean protein + healthy fat (like avocado) + starchy veggie + nuts or seeds for crunch
Add a simple side salad to any meal. 2 cups mixed greens + EVOO & balsamic vinegar + salt & pepper. Too boring? Add a a sprinkling of nuts or goat cheese and 1/2 cup of fresh fruit
Add 1-2 cups steamed kale or wilted greens to any soup - pureed or thick and chunky, greens go well in almost every soup!
Serve 1 cup sautéed greens, steamed or roasted broccoli, roasted green beans, asparagus or broccolini as a side dish at any meal.
Tell us YOUR favorite way to get in greens in the comments below and stay tuned for the next step!