3 Simple and Specific Ways to Improve Your Nutrition

posted by Andrea | 04/25/2017
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I don’t usually blog about health or nutrition — mainly because I’m not super passionate about these topics and I don’t feel I’m knowledgeable enough to share worthwhile information.

However, one thing I AM passionate about is simplifying overwhelming topics and concepts so they feel doable for us normal, average, everyday people. And in my opinion, the topics of health and nutrition often feel VERY overwhelming to me.

From what I hear and read these days, almost everything we eat will eventually cause cancer, almost everything we eat is apparently “not so great” per the opinion of someone somewhere, and almost everything we eat will generate negative side effects of some sort.

So… since all foods and food theories are essentially condemned by some source, my whole “all things in moderation” approach to food, health, nutrition, and exercise continues to suit me just fine!

I will continue to eat some processed foods in an effort to save lots of time, energy, and stress. I will continue to grow veggies and preserve my own jams, jellies, applesauce, and more because I enjoy doing it. And I will continue to eat at Culver’s every once in awhile because it tastes SO good!

I will not count calories or fat grams, I will not drive to 6 different health food stores, farmer’s markets, butchers, etc. just so I can say I’m feeding my family the “best”, and I will not stress or worry about every single morsel of food I put into my body or my children’s bodies.

It’s just not worth it for me.

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After lamenting some of my frustrations with the current “health and nutrition” industry to a friend of mine (a friend who just so happens to be VERY knowledgeable with diet and nutrition) I decided to write today’s post…

Unlike most other health and wellness posts, this post will not tell you to stay away from certain foods or food groups. This post will not tell you to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, low-carb, paleo, or Whole30 approved foods. This post will not list 10 foods that will most certainly cause cancer, 15 foods that will cause belly fat, or 25 foods that will cause high blood pressure. This post won’t even tell you to stay away from your most favorite guilty pleasure.

Have I piqued your interest yet?

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I don’t know about you, but I quickly tire of all the “don’t buy” and “never eat” and “stay away from” advice about food and nutrition. Instead, I want to know what I SHOULD do, what I SHOULD eat, and what foods I SHOULD be buying at the grocery store.

If you can relate, I think today’s post will be encouraging for you.

It’s a super short list of 3 very simple (yet very specific) things you can do right now to immediately start improving your health, your nutrition, and your body.

1. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.

For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you would drink 75 oz. of water per day. If you weight 200 lbs. you would drink 100 oz. of water per day.

I realize this sounds like A LOT of water — but as I’ve mentioned before, drinking lots of water is one of the absolute simplest and most frugal ways to improve your health, your skin, your hair, your digestive system, your mood, and so much more.

I carry my water bottle around with me everywhere and if I’m conscious about drinking it, I can fairly easily down 4 full bottles of water each day (plus more at meals).

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2. Eat protein with every meal.

My friend explained how protein helps us stay full longer and avoid mid-meal crashes (among many other benefits). However, she said most women lack enough protein in their diet.

Her tip was to consciously try to eat some protein with every single meal.

For example, instead of a bowl of cereal or piece of toast for breakfast, have yogurt with your cereal and eggs with your toast. Instead of a lettuce and veggie salad for lunch, add cheese, leftover grilled chicken, nuts, or another protein.

Even try to add protein into your snacks — instead of just Wheat Thins, eat Wheat Thins + sliced cheese + sliced summer sausage. Instead of just eating an apple or some fruit, eat an apple with peanut butter or fruit with cottage cheese. Hard boiled eggs and nuts are 2 more simple, protein-packed snack options.

If you want to use a protein powder, my friend recommends going with an organic plant-based protein powder.

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3. Eat at least 20 grams of fiber each day.

This is probably the hardest one for me, because I never even consider what foods have fiber in them and what foods don’t. However, thanks to my friend’s suggestions, I’ve been paying more attention to the nutrition facts on my foods and looking for options with higher fiber.

Eating more fiber should help regulate our digestive systems (assuming we’re also drinking enough water) and reduce bloating — which means we’ll feel slimmer and healthier right from the start!

Also, she mentioned that women under 50 should strive to get 25 grams of of fiber each day.

If you feel like you just can’t get enough fiber in the foods you eat, she recommends adding chia seeds or ground flaxseed into baked goods, oatmeal, smoothies, or anything else you want to try.

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Again, I realize I’m not a nutritionist or health coach or really anyone with any knowledge — but after talking with my friend and doing a little research of my own, I feel confident sharing these simple tips with you.

In my opinion, they seem very doable for almost anyone — even those with food allergies, food sensitivities, food restrictions, or those on specific eating plans and diets.

If you’re looking for a couple simple ways to start your journey to a healthier more nutritious diet, I think any one of these tips is a great place to start. And you know as well as I do that once you get started, it’s a lot easier to keep moving in the right direction.

Yes, you can get your grande latte, eat cheesecake, and order a burger and fries at your favorite fast food joint… but also keep these 3 tips in mind as you go through your day.

More water, more protein, more fiber – Good Luck!

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19 comments

  1. bettina

    05/10/2017

    agree 90% of what you said, but processed foods will catch up with you eventually. It is very easy to sub real food for processed without extra time and effort imho.

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  2. Carol

    04/25/2017

    Thank you for the sensible and non fad diet approach. Balance and proportion are key in my food planning. Increasing water, fruits and vegetables for most people can be easy enough to do. Those who have medical reasons for their diet restrictions should indeed follow their doctors orders, but for those who don’t, no need need to fall into the fads of the day.

    Great article.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you’re welcome! I don’t often do “fads” of anything 🙂

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  3. Debbie

    04/25/2017

    Thanks for this post Andrea! I like simple and yours is very doable. I just saw your chocolate zucchini muffin recipe and right away thought of trying it out, but maybe substituting almond flour and adding ground flax seed too. I have to take fiber supplements every day because I’m one who needs it even though I drink tons of water, eat veges, etc. My sweet tooth is my weakness and as I grow older I’m reading more and more how older women avoid sugar as much as possible. I don’t know if I ever can avoid my chocolates but when I did a 9 day cleanse I felt so energetic and even my singing voice improved. That was very shocking to me how cleansing my system would even affect my voice. I digress but this eating clean, at least cleaner, I believe does affect how we function in every way.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie!
    yes, I’ve been after my mom specifically to start eating “cleaner”. She has had so much sickness lately and has complained about her voice too (she’s a choir and band director). I have a very strong feeling that changing her diet will help significantly, but she’s never been willing to do much in the line of dieting. She likes what she likes and doesn’t enjoy cooking or preparing time-consuming foods.

    Maybe I’ll ‘break’ her someday and get her to see the light 🙂

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    Debbie Reply:

    Andrea, it might help to let your mom know that menopause also affects singing voices. The side effects of menopause varies with everyone but I’ve also researched a bit on it and for some the singing voice is affected negatively. The throat is much drier, the range gets lower, etc. It’s recommended to work with a vocal coach to help through this “change” process. They compare it to a teenage boy going through puberty when their voice starts changing. Funny though that a few weeks after reading all this and coming back from vacation, I chose to do that cleansing because I overloaded on vacation food :-). That’s when I experienced improvement in my voice by eating clean for 9 days. I didn’t work with a vocal coach or anything. I hope you’ll be able to help your mom and get her to see the light.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie!

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  4. Kelly Hess

    04/25/2017

    I love this post and it is spot on! I started doing Trim Healthy Mama about 8 months ago and lost 25 lbs rather quickly. What I learned is in line with your post here. Drink lots of water, eat protein with every meal, eat every 3 hours and don’t mix fats and carbs in your meals. It was really that simple for me to lose weight without a major exercise routine besides walking the dog. Eating foods with fiber lowers the overall carb count in your food, which helps with weight loss. I use chia seeds every morning in my overnight oats, I have grown to love them and a simple way to get more fiber!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s amazing. Congrats on the weight loss!

    one question, what exactly is bad about mixing fats and carbs — does that mean mixing oil and butter with carbs? Or literally anything with fat in it — like meats, cheeses, etc.?

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  5. Lisa

    04/25/2017

    I am a nutritionist, and although I have some clients with very specific physique and/or clean-eating goals, some of them just want to be healthier in general. Regardless of specific goals, these three tips are almost exactly where I always start everyone. I would add “include vegetables with every meal” but that can fall under the fiber tip. Love this article…great job!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — I just breathed a sigh of relief! When I read “I’m a nutritionist” I had a mini panic attack thinking you were going to say my friend was all wrong!

    Glad her advice aligns with your advice — and yes, I’ve been trying to get veggie at breakfast and it’s WAY harder than I thought it would be!

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  6. Mara Yager

    04/25/2017

    Great post!! I think all of those tips would help ANYONE stay focused on general health and feeling great throughout their day!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks mara!

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  7. Angela

    04/25/2017

    I’m inspired by and interested in your family’s routine of having dessert after supper. I collect old cookbooks because I love reading about how things used to be, and I know that dessert always used to be part of a meal, but I didn’t grow up with that, and we don’t do it now either. Dessert after a meal was just for special occasions. We almost always have a sweet bedtime snack though (usually an ice cream treat of some kind). I’d love to hear more about your reasoning behind dessert at suppertime – does it curb your sweet tooth later, and do you find you eat less since you’re full from supper? It seems that you keep your kids’ snacks healthy throughout the day – do you save the sweets for dessert? We’ve been overdoing the sweets in our house lately, between Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter candy, and looking to get into a routine that’s more moderation-minded.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, we love dessert 🙂
    Honestly, it’s just how we both grew up — and if you really want the truth, we have some sort of dessert after lunch too!

    I’m not sure if it really curbs our sweet tooth at all, it’s just how we’ve always done things and now my kids are used to it as well. We have lots of sweets in our house all the time (again, this is how both Dave and I also grew up). I remember friends coming over and commenting about how much candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. we had around and how they wouldn’t be able to stop eating it all if they lived in our house. At the time, I thought it was so weird that people would be so obsessed with eating junk food until I realized they were never allowed to eat it at their house — so they binged on in when they went to other people’s homes.

    I guess I’ve always been a huge advocate of “everything in moderation” and desserts and sweets is just one of those areas. We have a huges assortment of sweets at our house almost all the time, and our kids know they may always have some after meals and sometimes as snacks… so they really aren’t a temptation (if that makes any sense). Yes, we like them, but we certainly don’t have consuming thoughts about eating them (or not eating them).

    Not sure if this helps or not… 🙂

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    Angela Reply:

    Makes sense! Similar to our thinking, we just have our sweets at different times of day. Changing them to desserts might just be good incentives for the kids to eat better at mealtime though! : ) As a kid, we always had plenty of sweets around the house too, and they weren’t a huge temptation, but I had cousins who weren’t ever allowed to have sweets at home, and when they’d come to holidays they’d just binge on the sweets because they’d been deprived! Even as a kid I remember thinking that probably wasn’t healthy. : ) Everyone in my house is happier with a little chocolate coursing through their veins!

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  8. JoAnn C.

    04/25/2017

    Very well said, Andrea. Thanks for this post.

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  9. Deb

    04/25/2017

    My Fitness Pal is a great FREE app to track your fiber, protein, etc. Most use it for calories, but it also has all the macros. They have a huge database of foods including restaurant and processed items. You can type in the ingredients for your own recipes and save them and also save meals to save time on re-entering meals that you eat a lot. It is a great, free and easy way to see if you are eating a balanced diet. I highly recommend it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for sharing Deb!

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