The Essentials of a “Healthy Diet”, and How To Eat One

by Coach Dean

My life changed for the better, physically, emotionally and spiritually when I started losing weight. Not AFTER I lost it, but during the process. The key to weight loss can always be found in the kitchen. When I started learning to eat healthy, things started to change.

But what is a healthy diet anyway? Google the words “healthy diet” and it spits 280,000,000 (that’s MILLIONS) results back at you.

What is interesting to me is that from what I can see the elements of a healthy diet are Essentially the same.

A healthy diet:

  • Provides your body the nutrients it requires
  • Contains the proper amount of energy (calories) for your current needs.
  • Doesn’t contain things your body doesn’t need; like too much sugar, or salt, or lots of artificial or chemically enhanced junk food

And there seems to be a lot of different ways to get to that healthy diet. In fact many of the diet names that are familiar to you – Mediterranean, Paleo, South Beach, even Atkins (gasp!) are much more similar than they are different.

They primarily comprise of some ratio of lean protein, healthy fats, lots of vegetables, limited sugar, and carbohydrate intake is primarily the aforementioned vegetables, whole grains and fruit.

In other words lots of good stuff (nutrients) without excess and/or empty calories (little to no nutritional value).

For a high performing body, getting the proper nutrients isn’t an option. It absolutely needs Essential amino acids from protein, healthy fats, and all the vitamins, minerals and fiber it gets from all that vegetable goodness.

For instance that “love it or hate it” vegetable, Broccoli. 1 cup provides about 10% of your daily fiber needs, plus it gives you Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Folate, Potassium, Manganese and Iron. Don’t like broccoli? Spinach has all those nutrients and more. And both of these powerhouses are nutrient dense, which means per calorie you get a lot of nutritional punch.

On the other hand eating a donut, or candy bar, or even bread will give you a bunch of calories with very little (if any) nutritional value. Too many empty calories is just not healthy, that is no secret.

Your Healthy Grocery List

The best way to start eating healthy foods is to start buying healthy foods. Who knew? 🙂

Cut and paste this list next time you head to the grocery store:

Green Things:
Spinach
Broccoli
Kale
Bok Choy
Salad and Mustard Greens

Eat the Rainbow:
Tomatoes
Carrots
Squash
Pumpkin
Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Apples
Banana
Berries
Oranges
Peaches
Plums

Protein:
Eggs
Lean Ground Beef
Chicken
Turkey
Lamb
Pork
Salmon
Tuna
Tilapia
Shrimp
Scallops

Nuts, Seeds, Healthy Fats:
Walnuts
Almonds
Cashews
Chia Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Olive Oil
Avocados
Ghee

The next few categories are the ones you need to play around with. Some people don’t tolerate dairy or wheat or even legumes. It’s not a matter of “good” or “bad”, it comes down to this. If you drink that glass of milk and you get bloated, your nose starts running and your skin gets blotchy, you might want to think about that, no?

Beans:
Black, Red, White
Peas
Lentils
Mung

Dairy:
Greek yogurt
Cottage cheese
Hard cheeses

Whole Grains:
Steel cut oats
Whole oats
Quinoa (which is technically a seed)
Brown Rice

Beverages:
Water
Green, White, Black Tea
Coffee

Not an exhaustive list, but a pretty good start. These are your 90% foods. Eat nutrient dense foods like these 90% of the time and you will win. The other 10% gives you room to have those things we love to eat but shouldn’t eat as much – white foods (bread, sugar), fried stuff, candy bars, etc. All those fit in and can be part of your diet, just not most of it.

So How Do You Get There?

How do you move from a diet that is made up of a lot of stuff that comes out of a box, bag or can to one that feeds your body what it needs – protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals?

One step at a time.

Believe me I have been in the “Do it all at once, I’m committed this time, buckle down and just make it happen” mode. More than once. Many more than once.

And it didn’t work.

Oh maybe I’d drop 10 or 15 pounds, and then gain 20.

It wasn’t until I gave myself a break and understood that I didn’t have to do it all at once, didn’t have to be perfect, that I made real progress.

Instead of boxed cereal every day, make oatmeal a couple times a week. Have a piece of fruit for dessert instead of ice cream. Try a new vegetable once every couple weeks.

Choose one thing you just know you can be successful at, and do that.

Be the change you want to see. There is a big difference between saying “I want to eat healthier” and “I am a healthy eater” and proving it, one meal at a time.

The Essentials Nutrition Course

If you are ready to change how you eat, and as a result potentially change your life, I invite you to join our course “The Grateful Plate Essentials of Nutrition”.

It’s a 10-week course where we ask you to make one change, build one new habit, every two weeks. You will get phone and email support, join our private habit team, and get lessons every week to help you do what you want – change.

Just like for me, I think you will find the process is where the magic happens. Feeling better starts with creating small victories daily, the joy is in the journey. We’d love to show you how.

You can get more details here, or signup here

About the author

Coach Dean

Former Fat Boy Turned Health and Fitness Junkie. Award Winning Fitness Business Owner and Trainer. World Class Nutrition Coach. Truth Teller. Scholar. Opinionated. Humble and Willing To Tell You About It. Tell Dean He Is Full Of It On Any Of His Social Media Profiles. He Will Probably Agree.

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