WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING?!?
By: Caitlin Grater
As a health coach, I get LOTS of questions from curious health-conscious people about what they should be eating. ”What’s the best thing to eat for breakfast?”; ”Is juice healthy or not?”; ”Is it bad to eat before bed?”
It is GREAT that people are asking these kinds of questions, because health improvement has to start with a curiosity about healthy food. However, it can actually be quite difficult to give an accurate answer to these basic kinds of questions. There are many factors that may play into slightly different answers for different people (see previous blog post with my one-size-fits-all rules).
I would like to help ease some of the confusion though for people wondering just how to tackle their interest in getting healthier. First, check to make sure you’re following my 5 simple rules. If you can’t start there, you won’t be able to jump into more challenging dietary changes. Second, pay attention to how you feel after you eat. For example, to answer the question “What’s the best thing to eat for breakfast?” I would say, “something that keeps you feeling full and satisfied for at least 2.5 to 4 hours.” A bowl of slow-cooked oats, mixed with a tablespoon of nut butter, or a handful of nuts and berries, with a boiled egg on the side might work wonders for you. Two over-easy eggs, on top of some left over beans and rice and a glass of “green drink” (a staple in my house) could also be a big ticket winner. Even left over dinner of salmon, spinach, and a few bites of boiled potato would be excellent if you can get over the preconceived notions of what breakfast foods have to look like. If you’re eating a 3 egg-white omelette with tomatoes and a cup of coffee with Splenda and thinking you’re being healthy, but find yourself dying for a chocolate chip cookie an hour later is a big clue you aren’t getting what you need.
The key is experimentation. Many nutritionists insist that 6 small meals a day is the ideal way to eat for optimum metabolism. I both agree and disagree. If you can’t wrap your head around the fact that each of those meals isn’t much bigger than a snack, and you’re eating 6 sandwiches a day with a side dish and a sweetened drink, it’s not going to work for you. For me, I feel the best when I eat 3 solid meals a day, with a couple of healthy snacks in between. I know for me, I run the risk of over-eating if I don’t feel a sense of hunger before I eat and a sense of complete satisfaction with the meal afterwards. So I fill my plate with healthy fats, proteins, and quality carbs so I leave no nutritional need left to chance. This is what works for me.
So before you ask someone else to tell you what to do…you have to start by asking yourself: “do I feel good in my own skin?”; “does a meal make me feel satisfied, healthy and, yes – happy after I eat it?” ”Why might I be binging on sweet/salty snacks?” ”Do I sleep well?” ”Does my skin/hair/nails look healthy?” These are all major clues to evaluate. If you aren’t eating what your body needs, you will continue to crave “bad” food, feel unsatisfied, unhealthy, and unhappy.
When you get to a point where you feel like you’re making the right choices, but you still feel something is amiss…come back to me and we’ll take a deeper look There’s always another level to graduate to once you conquer the basics.
Caitlin Grater is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Health Coach who recently relocated back to Pittsburgh. She graduated from the Swedish Institute, College of Health Sciences and from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, both nationally recognized and based in New York. Her website is www.graterhealth.com