A couple of weeks ago my 19 year old brother came to visit me. I have four siblings that are around 20 years younger than me so it’s always fun to teach them a thing or two about life. “Learn from my mistakes, kids.” My brother is a rock climber so he was ecstatic to be visiting the rock mecca of Boulder. He also has some fitness and health goals so he came with a plethora of nutrition questions. He’s still living at home and just starting to find his own independence and opinions about life, politics and health. An interesting and exploratory time for anyone. Over the weekend I introduced him to many ways of healthy eating including harvesting from the garden, chopping vegetables (I don’t think he’d ever wielded a chef’s knife), and cooking. He was timid but eager to learn. I realized that he needed a few written “rules” to take home with him. I thought I’d share with you also since these are good foundational guidelines for anyone starting out on a new path with real food or for anyone that needs a refresher.
Healthy Living & Eating Rules
- Eat vegetables with all your meals, including breakfast. For faster prep in the morning cook a bunch of vegetables at dinner that you can eat for other meals.
- Eat protein, especially with breakfast, such as: eggs, chicken or turkey sausages, or anything you would eat for dinner or lunch (chicken, beef, bison or turkey burger, fish). Whenever possible purchase organic meat or “natural” meat that is free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
- Eat healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, olives, organic meat and cold-water fish (like salmon and cod).
- Drink water before you’re thirsty. Make it a daily routine to drink about 80 ounces per day. When you wake up drink 1-2 glasses first thing in the morning.
- Sleep at night. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Turn off all electronics (TV, phone, ipad, etc.) 1 hour before bed. Sleep in total darkness without any lights on. (I learned that my brother stays up most nights and sleeps during the day. A recipe for disaster for your hormones long term.)
- Learn to cook. Get comfortable in the kitchen using a knife to chop (go slowly), following recipes and using the stove. Learn how to use the grill since that will make it easy to cook up a few pieces of meat at a time to eat for leftovers. Get a crockpot for super easy stews. Take a class or start reading recipe blogs.
- Pay attention to your cooking oils. Use extra virgin olive oil for cold (salads), low or medium heat. Use butter or unrefined coconut oil for high heat (stir fry, baking, roasting, grilling). Avoid using soybean, peanut, safflower, canola, corn or “vegetable oils”. Remember these are used in all restaurants so cooking at home is always healthier.
- Be open to trying new foods. This is a time to expand your food choices beyond what you’ve eaten while growing up. You’ll discover a bunch of new foods and flavors that you like.
- Minimize eating processed foods. Meaning anything that comes in a box or package and is sold in the middle aisles of the grocery stores. Again, this comes back to cooking more.
- Read labels on all packaged foods. Be skeptical of ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
- Don’t trust any foods you see advertised on TV!
Cheers to healthy living!
Disclaimer: Nutrition therapy is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, or as a substitute for medical care. Jen Marshall and Stacy St Germain are not licensed medical providers. Nutrition plans are not intended as a substitution for traditional medical care, nor should be interpreted as medical advice, but instead is an adjunctive and supportive therapy.