2019 Healthy Habit 3: Adding More Whole Foods In Your Diet

I don’t know about you, but for me during the winter it’s easier for me to eat more processed, pick up and go type foods. I want more baked goods, more foods with refined flours and sugar and less of fruits and vegetables. There is a balance with everything, but at the beginning of the new year I like to try to get this part of my diet back in order. The reason?

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More Nutrient Value

As many of you may know, processing foods strips the food of vital nutrients and can lessen the nutritional value. This can be any type of food preparation. Exposing it to oxygen, light, heat or water during cooking will lessen the nutrient value. There is always some nutrient loss when preparing food in general.

However, HIGHLY processed foods are foods that contain:

  • Preservatives (to prevent rotting)
  • Colors
  • Added Flavors
  • Usually is high in added sugars (like high fructose corn syrup)
  • Usually high in refined grains (which is stripped of fiber and nutrients)

These foods add calories with little to no nutritional value. Because of the artificial ingredients, high in sugar, and using highly processed and refined ingredients, it’s lower in nutritional value. They are more calorie dense than nutrient dense.

Eating whole foods like raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, etc. starts getting your diet and nutrition level back to a healthier level. More nutritional value, the better your body will work with you. Then later on when you want to make a big change, your diet is already on the right path.

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I talk about fiber a lot in my recipe and nutrition posts but it truly is an important part of your overall health. We already talked about how much water is an important part of health, nutrition, and your digestive process. Fiber is almost just as simple and covers a wide range of benefits as well. There are two types of fiber. Below is what they both help with and then later is where to find those types of fibers in foods.

Soluble Fiber

  • Increases the feeling of being full and satisfied
  • Lowers blood cholesterol by helping to bind with bile
  • Slows glucose absorption
  • Helps with weight management
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Improves blood glucose tolerance and lowers risk of diabetes
  • Lowers risk of colon and rectal cancer

Food Sources of Soluble Fiber

Barley, rye, oats, oat bran, apples, citrus fruit, legumes, seaweed, broccoli, carrots, corn, potatoes, seeds and more.

Insoluble Fiber

  • Softens stools and aids in intestinal motility
  • Increases feelings of fullness
  • Reduce risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, appendicitis, diverticulitis, etc.
  • Lowers rick of colon and rectal cancer
  • Helps with weight management

Food Sources of Insoluble Fiber

Wheat bran, whole grains, brown rice, fruits, legumes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, nuts, seeds, and more.

Bottom Line

Whole foods adds nutrients and fiber to your diet. Although processed foods are starting to add fiber more and more to their products, remember they will still have less nutritional value and usually more added sugars than eating whole foods. Not to mention process foods have food additives and that there is more of a chance it will contain allergens or be processed in a factory that also processes food allergens.

If you are wanting to start to change your diet for the healthier, start with introducing or getting back to eating mainly whole foods.

Easy Way to Start: 
  • Have a piece of fruit, not canned, with breakfast
  • Have at least 1/2, if not 1/3, of your plate consisting of vegetables and whole grains or natural starches with your protein of choice
    • Salad and a baked potato
    • Roasted carrots and brown rice
    • Broccoli and a baked sweet potato
  • Have 1 of your servings of protein a day be a plant based source for added fiber
    • Lentils
    • Beans
    • Nuts and Seeds
  • Keep in mind to have some sort of raw fruit or vegetable at every meal

Whatever might work for you, remember that having nutrient and fiber dense foods will help with your nutrition, digestive health and can help lower the risk of some major diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Getting your diet habits back on track with adding and increasing your whole foods will help when you are ready to make a full diet change later if you are not fully ready to do so. What are you waiting for?


Mistake #4: Going All In At The Beginning Of The Year (Not Knowing When To Start My Goals)

I figured the beginning of the new year would be a good time to talk about this. It’s a new month, a new year, and warmer temperatures are just a little bit away, or so we tell ourselves. You start to see magazines and commercials about detoxing, weight loss, how to shed the pumpkin pie and be a healthier you. It’s a new start, a new beginning, and new goals. For some that can work! They just need that motivation of a new beginning, like a new year, to get them motivated. That’s great! Do what works for you.

I thought that was me. I thought that’s all I needed. Then a few weeks into the year, I start sleeping in the extra 30 minutes – 1 hour instead of working out. Yogurt and fruit is great in the morning, but that warm banana bread with a latte seems more appropriate that time of year. Not that it’s right, but for me, it’s definitely harder to be focused about my goals. Here in Dallas, January and February are cold and rainy, and some of the most ugliest gray days we have all year. It’s hard for me to be motivated to go full-on changing my whole routine, with absolutely eating healthier, and exercising.

So I decided this month to share a few things I’ve done to get my body and routine prepared to change in March when the sun is back out, you can start to smell spring in the air, and my motivation is naturally there. That way, I can “go all in” in March without it being a drastic change in my routine and life. I’m better equipped to maintain a healthier routine when I can prepare myself in the winter months with small routine changes to get me to the point where a huge shift of my routine can happen and I can really go after my goals when I’m the most motivated.

I’ll be posting more about these healthier habits throughout the month in more detail, but these are the things I want to have already in motion if they are not already there.

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Get A Good Sleep Routine

I start making sure my sleep routine is normal. Doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or not, I try to wake up and go to bed at the same times. Not over sleeping which is easy for me to do with dark mornings. Getting your sleep routine under control will help with your metabolism, your mental state, and also making working out in the morning that much easier.

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Drink Water First Thing In The Morning

I usually get off track with this healthy habit too. I start to wake up later because it’s dark outside and then rush around and start drinking coffee or going ahead and eating my breakfast before drinking water – plain water, lemon water, or water with apple cider vinegar. Your body detoxes through the night and bodily functions, although slower, still are working throughout the night. It’s been 8 or more hours that your body has had water and that’s needed for every function in the body. You wake up better, your digestion and metabolism starts waking up as well, and you’re hydrating your body first thing.

I wake up, brush my teeth (including scraping my tongue – very important), and then grab a glass of water before doing anything else and I don’t drink my coffee or eat my breakfast until I have done so. After a while if I’ve gotten off track it can be a hassle to remember, but once you start your body will automatically be thirsty in the morning.

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Healthier Food Habits

We know those buttery processed pastries in the morning can’t last forever. That almond croissant at Starbucks in the fall… oh man! If I know my eating habits have gotten away from whole foods, I make sure to bring it back in line. Even if some of my foods contain whole foods, a lot of time it will become more processed and further away from what it really should be. Goodbye pumpkin bread and hello oatmeal! I also try to make sure my foods are not as fattening, and sugar I try to cut it out completely other than fruits. After a few months of having pies, mashed potatoes, and cream in everything, it’s time to get back in line. So although I might not be watching my food as closely, and somethings might not be the “healthiest” option, it’s a step in the right direction and something I can continue to build on. Which brings me to my next thing to keep in mind.

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Move Everyday

Whether it’s a walk around the block, running for a few miles, or doing strength exercises get into the routine of actively and consciously doing something for your body’s physical health everyday. Since working out and an exercise routine is the hardest for me to keep up with, it’s easier when I have in mind that I have to do something that day that requires me to move. Mix it up. And since it’s not a strict schedule, do something with the time you have on hand and the time you know you can commit to. 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Whatever it is, just get back into a simple routine of physical exercise. The other thing to keep in mind is that on average they encourage 20 minutes a day, which doesn’t mean it has to be 20 minutes at once. Doing a few minutes of stretching in the morning, talking a walk around the block at lunch, doing a 7 minute ab routine before dinner, and then stretching at night will easily add up to 20 minutes a day. Do what you can with what you have and the time you have to give it.

As a Recap
  • You don’t HAVE to go “all in” at the beginning of the year
  • Know what motivates you
  • If you are not motivated, start taking healthier steps now to improve your health
  • Any step in the right direction is a good place to start

Stay tuned for the next few weeks as I go into more detail about these 4 healthy habits.