In part one of this article, we learned about the importance of fueling our bodies with all three macro-nutrients - protein, fat, and carbohydrates. When we eat a meal that has all three, and not too heavy in carbohydrates, we have the potential to feel strong, energized, and healthy - all day long! Eating enough protein and fat helps to balance and modulate the “blood sugar roller coaster” that many of us feel when we don’t eat enough, or when our meals aren’t properly balanced. Now to the fun part, what steps can you take to make small changes in your diet that have big outcomes.
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.
There is really no way around it, you have to spend some time in the kitchen preparing food to eat well and feel energized. There are shortcuts for sure, but some time in the kitchen is required. If you want to: eat healthy, gain or lose weight, increase energy - it starts with thinking ahead and taking some time to prepare your food. I don’t want you in the kitchen 3 meals a day, that is not attainable for most, but a couple hour chunk at some point in the week goes a long way.
Pairing Fruit with Fat.
When it comes time for a snack, some of us grab a piece of fruit or a handful of dried fruit. While fruit is a healthy choice, it’s best to pair with a healthy source of fat. Pairing fruit with fat both slows down the metabolism of the sugars in the fruit, but it also keeps us fuller longer. Try pairing an apple with cheese or nuts/nut butter, a banana with coconut flakes, or an orange with a handful of pumpkin seeds.
Get Yourself Some Good Containers!
Bento Snack Box - Similar to the one in the picture. It’s made from BPA free plastic, but don’t put any hot foods in it. If you plan to put hot food in it, get a stainless steel one instead.
Lunchbots - Stainless steel Bento box, great for kids' snacks and lunches.
Condiment Containers - Great for hummus, salad dressing, a small amount of nuts/seeds, or nut butter!
Yogurt containers - Perfect size for yogurt with room for toppings, 6 pack so you can portion out a bunch at once.
Portion out ahead of time.
Grab your Bento Box, glass or stainless steel containers, and get portioning. Too busy to make your snack in the morning before you head to work? Make 4 or 5 containers worth on the weekend so you can grab and go during the week. My favorites to make ahead of time? I've shared a whole list below.
FAT is Where it’s AT.
Eating 1-2 TBSP of added healthy fats with each meal is imperative for sustained energy, focus (see ya later brain fog), absorption of vitamins and minerals, keeping us full, healthy hormone production, and much more. Just like you wouldn’t ONLY eat broccoli or apples, you don’t want to eat only one type of oil or fat. Variety is key with it comes to our fats, so vary it up with:
Grass-fed Butter (Kerry Gold and Organic Valley Pasture Butter are two great brands)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Best for using in salad dressing, drizzling on top of food, or for a very light saute due to its low burn point.
Coconut Oil. Organic, cold pressed, and unrefined is best. This solid oil will melt when it hits heat, just like butter. Great for roasting, sauteing, or as replacement for vegetable or canola oil in baking.
Ghee. Ghee is similar to clarified butter, only it is more nutty in flavor as you cook it one step longer. Ghee is my fat of choice for roasting veggies and for sauteing.
Pastured animal fats. If you’re adventurous, and have a good source, get creative with cooking with pastured lard (pork fat), tallow (beef fat), or duck fat. These traditional fats are not found in most kitchens any longer, but are a great source of dense nutrition and are very stable to cook with.
*NOTE. If you’re not eating much fat right now in your diet, slowly increase your fat consumption. You don’t want to go from no fat in your oatmeal to 2 TBSP's overnight, slowly increase over a week or so. Listen to your body with how much feels best - only you can know what's best for YOU.
On the weekends, we always cook up at least one form of protein we can add to our meals during the week. Protein needs vary person to person. With added fat in your diet, pay attention to protein needs and vary as needed. (this is something I help my clients figure out)
We all know the pleasure of biting into a fresh piece of bread with butter. There are both healthy and unhealthy forms of bread and grains, more to come in a future article. I love to roast a few veggies at the beginning of the week and add them to my meals all week long. For the most part, it’s best to get your carbohydrates from whole, unrefined, nutrient dense sources such as:
Small potatoes (small because there is more nutrient dense skin)
Root veggies - carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi
Squash - butternut, acorn, spaghetti, delicata
Steel cut oats
Basmati, jasmine or short grain rice
Healthy & Make Ahead Snack Ideas:
Hard Boiled eggs with a little mayo and Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Sprinkle (my favorite brands of mayo are Primal Kitchen and Chosen Foods)
Dates filled with nut butter and a sprinkle of coconut flakes
Apple with cheddar cheese (if you avoid cows milk, look for goat cheddar)
Whole milk plain yogurt with frozen fruit, vanilla extract, cocoa powder & nuts
Tuna, chicken, or egg salad - on a seeded cracker, lettuce boat or just a fork!
Hummus with veggie sticks
Egg broth soup bowls
Apple & Nuts