Simplified Living: Staying on Track with Your Healthy Eating Goals

Simplified Living: Staying on Track with Your Healthy Eating Goals

Healthy eating has become a passion for me this past few years. As I've tuned into the ways my body responds (both negatively and positively) to the foods I consume, I've been able to make wiser health choices in the kitchen and in the grocery store.

I've shared before that one of the ways I've been able to overcome many of the symptoms of a sluggish thyroid and burned out adrenal glands has been to remove the stress triggers from my body.

What we eat can stress out our body. Chemicals and food additives that our body has no idea how to process can lead to a stress response within. You may not feel it like you do when your adrenaline is pumping, but over time, a stressed out body does result in a negative impact to our overall health and well-being.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Sure, Rosann, I get it, but I don't have time, money, or the know-how to eat a totally clean diet!"

I know! I've struggled with the exact same thoughts and food challenges. Ultimately, my motivation and success has come from recognizing how certain foods or chemicals affect my body. It has been a long, hard, and very emotional journey for me to recover my adrenal health. Food choices played a huge role in that recovery.

To stay on track with my healthy eating choices, I've set some personal, yet simple boundaries for myself. Maybe you'll find these "rules" helpful in your own journey.

Simplified Living: Staying on Track with Your Healthy Eating Goals

Read labels and know the specific ingredients you're eating.

Two websites have been very helpful for me in this journey. If you haven't already, check out foodbabe.com to learn more about ingredients in the everyday food products you're more than likely buying and consuming.

The second website I use frequently is EWG.org. They actually have a Healthy Living App you can put on your phone and use in the grocery store to scan bar codes on food packages. This helps you see how the item scores for being toxic or healthy. Although not all foods are in their database yet.

Being aware of what you're buying and eating is really the best place to start. Read every label. If you don't know an ingredient or can't pronounce it, your body probably won't recognize it either.

Include vegetables in every meal.

I love vegetables, but sometimes I catch myself going a full day without eating any at all. It's just easier to make a tuna sandwich or fry up a few eggs.

Vegetables are so important, though. They are nutrient dense, rich in fiber, and they can actually be medicine to your body because they give it exactly what it needs to thrive and be healthy.

So, my rule of thumb now is that I have to include a nice big portion of vegetables with every single meal I eat. This can be done fairly easy as long as you plan ahead. It's all about the meal plan, or at the very least, making sure you have plenty of veggies in the fridge ready to grab.

Yes, I even eat vegetables with breakfast. Typically, I have two eggs fried in coconut oil. On the side, I include sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and maybe some bell pepper, too.

At lunch time, I eat a salad. Salad can get boring, though, if you don't get a little creative. So I've found some tasty salad recipes online that I've come to love. Today, for example, I had mixed greens with sliced strawberries, blueberries, and avocado. The dressing was Extra Virgin Olive Oil mixed with a teaspoon of honey, Italian seasoning, fresh cilantro, and sea salt and pepper. Yesterday, I had a BBQ grilled chicken salad that was delicious.

Dinner in my home is almost always some form of meat and potatoes. It's my husband's favorite kind of meal. When possible, I avoid russet potatoes, and instead I eat either a sweet potato or red potatoes. We also frequently have steamed broccoli or oven-roasted asparagus with our meal.

Log food into MyFitnessPal every day.

This can be a tedious process, but by logging my food everyday, I'm making myself aware of where my nutrient consumption is while also watching to make sure I'm not overdoing it on the calories.

More recently, I've made the decision to quit eating refined sugar. It doesn't agree with my cortisol levels and it adds zero nutritional value. Logging my food has been very helpful in keeping me aware of this process, as refined sugar seems to be in everything these days.

Stick with a few favorite, healthy, go-to meals and snacks.

Meal planning helps me to avoid the last minute, "what's for dinner?" stress-out session. There are rare occasions where I need to come up with a quick, healthy dinner, though. We have an indoor smokeless, countertop grill that comes in very handy for those times. A thin piece of chicken, a turkey burger, or a steak grill up super quick. Add a salad, and we're good to go. Worst case, I'll fry up a few eggs for dinner.

Easy snacks I keep on hand are a container of mixed nuts, plenty of apples and almond butter, hard boiled eggs, organic carrot and celery sticks, and plain greek yogurt with cinnamon stirred into it. I also love Mary's Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers with a thin slice of cheese on them.

Do food prep immediately after grocery shopping.

Yes, it's a pain in the rear, but so worth it. As soon as I get home from the store and have all of the bags of groceries in my kitchen, I spend a good hour or more cleaning out my fridge, followed by washing, cutting, and storing any produce purchased. I let my 7-year-old help with this process. She loves to sneak bites of whatever we're washing.

Having everything freshly stored in the cleaned-out fridge makes it much easier to see or find when I need it for a recipe. Or when my kids are asking for a healthy snack.

Journal about your overall health and how food makes you feel.

I keep a daily "health update" in my DayOne journal app on my iPad. Because I've struggled so much with my health the past couple of years I've found it helpful to track certain areas of my health so I can watch for trends and make lifestyle changes as needed.

Since I'm going through perimenopause I include what day I'm on in my menstrual cycle, which helps me determine if the way I'm feeling is cyclical or due to some other factor.

I log any symptoms I've had that day, and if I suddenly notice digestive or intestinal related issues, or if my skin randomly starts to break out, I look back at MyFitnessPal to see what I've eaten that could be causing it.

I had been feeling great for several months, but then a few weeks ago I made the mistake of splurging on an entire box of dark chocolate. Thank you, Valentine's Day. Ugh. Anyway, I almost immediately noticed brain fog and suddenly had trouble keeping my blood sugar balanced. That's when I decided it was time to give up refined sugar. Keeping my journal and talking to my nutritionist about it, helped me to come to that conclusion.

Have a plan and stick with it.

Here's my plan for this particular season of life: 

  • No refined sugar.
  • No white bread unless I've made it homemade with organic and healthier alternative ingredients.
  • No cow's milk. Instead, I have unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
  • No processed or pre-shredded cheese. Instead, I buy blocks of cheese for our cheese needs.
  • No peanuts or peanut butter. Instead, I choose almond butter.
  • Buy organic, grass-fed, and Non-GMO as much as possible.
  • All other healthy living choices I've previously discussed in this post.

Having a plan is what keeps me on track more than anything. I'm human. I'm tempted by junk food and convenience pre-packaged foods, too. I'm tempted by Dairy Queen every time I drive by, and every time my kids beg and plead for us to stop and get a treat. I'm not always going to make the perfect choice, but having and knowing what my healthy eating plan is definitely provides more opportunity for success.

Do you have a healthy eating tip or trick you'd like to share?

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Rosann Cunningham

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Author at Rosann Cunningham
Rosann is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach specializing in hormone health. She is also a fitness junkie, with a specific passion for mixed martial arts style kickboxing and is trained in Krav Maga - a military self-defense fighting system. After a Hashimotos diagnosis which turned out to be a very wrong call, Rosann became her own health advocate and fought her way back to optimal health and wellness. She is determined to help her clients dig deep to find the root cause of their hormone health struggles, so they too, can thrive and live the abundant life of health and happiness they deserve. Rosann believes nobody should be a victim in life or in their health, so in her coaching practice she loves to integrate a martial arts style and sense of accountability.

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