You are what you eat: my universal diet hacks
We let so many things take priority in our lives. Our families, our jobs, social commitments. At some point we need to turn inwards and make sure that the vehicle carrying us through life is coping well. You wouldn’t drive your car with no fuel or ignore your obligatory services, would you? If you did, you wouldn’t be able to help others with a ride in a car that has been neglected. We need to think of our bodies in the same way. The better they function, the more we can be of service to ourselves and others. I’m continuing my #LoveYourselfEnough campaign this February, and this time I’m turning it inwards and asking you to take a real look at what you eat and how it affects you. I’ll also be supplying some of my most essential diet hacks.
Now, nutrition is a BIG topic. One covered by endless blogs, books, ebooks, nutritionists, dietitians and the like. It would take us years to unpack this in full, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start moving in the right direction. Today, I want to give you some of my top tips for taking control of your eating habits. These are some bite-size nuggets of info that everyone can ingest (excuse the food analogies) for a healthier approach to eating.
Universal Habits to Try
Before you even begin to get specific (or restrictive), here are some diet hacks I believe everyone can follow for powerful results.
- Increase your fruit and veggie quota. Commit to eating a fruit or veggie with every meal – you’ll be surprised how little space there is left for rubbish!
- Eat 100 calories less each day. Get a rough idea of what a regular eating day looks like for you, then just subtract or substitute a little part of it. This could be cancelling out your second piece of toast, or swapping a carb for a healthy protein.
- Limit refined carbs and sugar. Keeping an eye out for added sugar or white starches like bread, pastries and flour. Swapping them with their whole grain, healthier counterpart will have a significant impact on your blood sugar, health, appetite and waistline over time. This diet hack alone holds the potential for dramatic change!
Supporting Healthy Digestion
This is such a biggie. Digestion is the cornerstone of our health. If we’re not absorbing our nutrients correctly because of blockages, and muck stuck in our colon, then toxins get reabsorbed back into our bodies and we become more predisposed to diseases.
On a personal level, I have learned to look after my gut health by working to eat sugar in moderation (that was a toughie); I am specific about the carbs I choose, and I don’t touch anything that ferments too much in the body as it can cause acidity. I also take a fibre supplement every day, as well as digestive enzymes, pre- and probiotics, psyllium husk and Bentonite clay (you’ll find these in my Elimin8 Kit); I rebound (get yours here), use Epsom salts in my bath and do a three-week cleanse every year (which one, you ask? My tried and tested Elimin8 Programme). It may sound like a lot to take in, but healing your gut needs to be an active, ongoing process – it’s not going to be a quick-fix!
In a nutshell, though, here are some general hacks for managing your digestion:
- Keep an eye on your stools to identify any abnormalities according to the Bristol stool chart. Yip, that’s a chart about your poop – get ready!
- Prioritise moreplant-based foods, lean protein and complex carbohydrates and less processed, high sugar foods and excess animal protein. I’ve mentioned this very flippantly, but it’s obviously a lot of hard work to implement.
- If you suspect you may have lower level inflammatory food allergens, spend some time identifying them by removing them from the diet and reintroducing them slowly. This is one of the most powerful actions you can take. If you need some help here, try my Elimin8 Programme– a cleanse based on eliminating foods we eat in excess, then reintroducing them back in slowly to help you identify how your body responds to them.
- Invest in supplements to promote gut health. Top priority: pre- and probiotics; second priority: digestive enzymes and glucomannan.
Identifying your Worst Offenders
If we’re talking about diet hacks to follow, it’s also time to get real about the habits bringing you down. This is such a critical step to take in getting real about where you go wrong. Maybe you are a 3-sugars-in-my-coffee fiend, forego any form of healthy food when travelling, or stress-eat carbs during difficult times? Identify your weak points and be realistic about how much you are prepared to change. Sometimes the cleanest of eating plans can be derailed with one small bad habit repeated in excess. Subtle changes to daily weaknesses will have more impact, with long-lasting results, than a season of restrictive dieting. One of my worst offenders? Chocolate milk. My oh my, I just love it – you can expect a blog about that soon! And I’m talking the real deal – good old-fashioned Nesquick (no dainty teaspoon portions either) mixed into a vat of milk and consumed daily. It’s been a long journey working on getting that daily treat down to just a few days a week, but doing so was an important step for me. You don’t have to rule out your treats either – deprivation is not the name of the game here. You just need to identify which habits are annexing your daily caloric intake and modify them accordingly.
Keep a Food Diary
Finally – I can’t advocate this tip enough. This is one of those old diet hacks the experts always advise, yet so few of us listen to it! Keeping a food diary is an under-utilised and incredibly useful tool for getting more insight into your eating habits. It can help you spot inflammatory foods, identify the emotional sources of cravings, and keep you more conscious of what food is passing your lips. Taking notes of every bite you take can be a real game changer if you aren’t getting the results you want. If you bite – you write.
Most cravings for yummy foods are emotion-based, and not caused by hunger. In order to have a healthy relationship with food, you need to give yourself freedom to enjoy the good things in life. Be kind to yourself, and remember that your body is more than capable of handling a slight deviation. But everything in moderation – planning and balance are key, remember!
What diet hacks do you follow to #LoveYourselfEnough?