Six Simple Rules for Healthy Eating

Healthy eating can be simple, and enjoyable!

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I used to be so overwhelmed by the idea of calorie counting and making sure I was getting enough vitamins and minerals in my diet. I felt good that I would have a bowl of fortified cereal with milk almost every morning (side note – this is not the way to get your nutrients!) and a salad with dinner almost every night. But other than that, I just could never get into counting calories and tallying up things like my calcium intake for the day; it was too confusing and too much work. Measuring out portion sizes and such is not for me!

The good news is the more I learned about nutrition, the less I had to worry about it. Over time, I’ve come up with a few simple guidelines that I live by.

1. Cook!
2. Limit processed foods (see item 1!)
3. Eat real food…#JERF – Google it! (see items 1 and 2!)
4. Eat the rainbow
5. Try to eat vegetables at every meal (even breakfast!)
6. Enjoy your food, every part of it – shopping for it, preparing it, and eating it (ok, every part except cleaning up!)

Easy enough right? Live by these 6 simple ideas and they will become a way of life before you know it. Not only will you start feeling and looking better, but without having to worry about tallying up recommended daily values, you’ll have more of that precious brain power needed to remember things like when the baby last had his diaper changed? (or where in the world did you put the bottle opener?)

1. Cook. This is pretty simple, if you’re cooking your food (with love, of course) you are automatically eating better than if you were eating out at a restaurant or eating processed food off the grocery store shelf. Cooking is probably the most important thing to do if you want to be healthy. Anyone can do it (and enjoy it!), I promise. BTW – I can help with this!!!

2. Limit processed foods. This is so huge, but I’ll keep it simple and only point out two reasons to limit processed foods.
Reason One: Sugar. Did you know there is added sugar in about 80% of all processed foods in the grocery store?! Click here for my (hopefully) simple take on why sugar is bad (bad bad bad!) for you. Seriously, if you can do one thing TODAY, start paying attention to how much sugar you’re eating and find ways to reduce it.
Reason Two: Processed Oils, also known as “vegetable oils”. There are lots but some common ones are canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil. There are a couple reasons why we want to avoid these oils. One reason being that they are high in omega-6s, which are necessary (naturally found in grains and corn, among other things), but are also inflammatory and can be just as bad as sugar when you eat too much.

Quick lesson: Our diets should have about a 1:1 to 4:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s, but a typical American diet has more like 15:1 or more – that’s because Omega-6s are in almost every processed food, seriously, even things that you would think are otherwise healthy! Do you try to eat more Omega-3s? Maybe try to eat less Omega-6s.

Another reason to avoid these processed seed oils is the simple fact of how they are processed – usually with a solvent such as hexane. Good fats vs. bad fats is an extremely confusing and complex topic, some good information can be found at I’ll also do my best to write up a post about them sometime.

3. JERFing, no it’s not like daping or planking (yes, I am aware that I’m referencing trends that are no longer trendy [I think?], I’m sure once I have teenagers I will have someone telling me every day how old and uncool I am). Anyway, this is another simple one, Eat food that doesn’t have a nutrition facts label, and certainly doesn’t have an add on TV. Shop mainly on the perimeter of the store or, even better, get most of your food from a local farm (when it’s super fresh and in season)!

4. Eat the rainbow. Very different from “Taste the Rainbow®”. If you are eating a variety of real foods, then you are getting everything you need. Instead of focusing on the percent daily value of each nutrient you are getting at each meal; focus on the different colors you are eating throughout the day; you might find you are eating a lot of beige…booooring.

5. Eat veggies at every meal. To me, this is a fun game – especially getting my veggies in at breakfast. Smoothies are a great way to pack in a load of veg first thing. I’ve also been known to scramble up all kinds of weird delicious things with my eggs in the morning. Veg doesn’t always have to mean a salad, there are so many ways to eat yo’ veg!

6. Enjoy your food. If you’re not enjoying the whole experience then you are probably looking for shortcuts; which takes me back to #1, 2, and 3. If you do want to take a shortcut or have a treat, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. How much will you enjoy that oreo? If you are going to really (like, for real) sit and enjoy it, then go for it. I find myself asking myself (myself loves talking to myself) the “is it worth it” question whenever I’m tempted. More often than not the answer is no; but when the answer is yes, it’s totally worth it!

BTW, maybe instead of buying Oreos you can get together with the kids and bake some chocolate chip cookies instead (see guideline #2!). ps. A great rule of thumb is you can decrease the amount of sugar by 1/3 in almost any recipe without any noticeable difference.

Now, my challenge to you: pick one (or more!) rule and try it out for a week. Report back in the comments below and share on Facebook!

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