Plants, Protein and Fat: a simple strategy for healthier meals thumbnail

I was sitting by myself in a restaurant a few years ago trying to hold it together. It was a rough point in my life and I wanted fries. All the fries. And artichoke spinach dip. And wine. And then chocolate cake.

Yes– I totally wanted those foods, but I also wanted to feel better. I knew if I ate a crappy lunch, I’d feel bloated, sleepy and in a funk. Food and meals have the power to transform our bodies– not just our weight.

What we eat today influences our future cravings, our mood and our energy levels.

I’ve set the intention to take care of my body, to feel good and to eat well. So, like I do 90% of the time, I chose to feel better and feed my future desired mood.  I had an amazing salad with grilled salmon and soda water. 

I share this with you because I’ve developed a few tricks that make the decision to eat healthy feel a lot easier. And no– I don’t have crazy willpower. You don’t need it either.

A mantra to help you eat better.

Your intention is probably similar to most of my clients– to eat good, healthy food and to feel good. A mantra is like a flashlight for your intention– that beam of light illuminates where you’re going and gives you direction.  A mantra isn’t necessarily a rule, but a tool we use to bring to light our desires and goals. It’s a reminder to help us stay the path.

This mantra gives you direction and helps you focus on foods that will help you feel great and maintain your weight. 

This is the phrase you can use to easily create healthy meals– whether you’re planning meals for the week or eating out at a restaurant– and get in that healthy ballpark for each one:

Plants, Protein and Fat (or PPF)

  Focusing on plants first, then protein and fat will help you fill your diet with more vegetables and fruit, and make sure you’re getting the blood sugar balancing fiber, protein and fat you need for steady energy, cravings control and  

It provides you with parameters to make really great meal choices that can help you have more energy, feel more alert and maintain a healthy weight.

✔PLANTS

First up, vegetables and fruit– because they’re so damn important! And because most of us don’t eat enough. The phrase “plant-based diet” is often associated with a vegan diet, but I think everyone should consider themselves “plant-based” no matter what type of protein they choose.

Vegetables and fruit provide the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need to thrive. They also have plenty fiber to keep us feeling full and keep our digestion running smoothly, plus the carbohydrates necessary to fuel our body.

Aim for 5-6 servings of vegetables and 1-3 servings of fruit everyday. Or, 2 servings of veggies at each meal and a little fruit for snack or in a smoothie.

✔PROTEIN

Protein provides the body with essential building blocks and it also helps us feel full, alert and can help control sugar cravings.

What protein is best for you? You pick! However, I want you to promise to tune in and evaluate whether that protein is working well for your body. What’s healthy for any one person depends on their body, the season of life they’re in, if they have food sensitivities, if their body has a hormonal imbalance, if their body is recovering from a major illness, and exercise type and frequency.

Choose high quality protein sources. Organic is best and choose grass-fed meat whenever possible.

✔FAT

Fat has gotten a really bad reputation. We’re so scared of it! But, it’s essential to our health and well-being. In fact some fats are literally essential and we call them essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6, 9) because our bodies can’t make them; we have to eat them. 

Eating more fat can quiet the brain’s hunger and craving cues. It also helps the body absorb certain vitamins and minerals and produces certain types of hormones. Essential Fatty Acids decrease inflammation, improve immunity and play a role in mood and brain health. 

However, you need to choose the right fat– monounsaturated fats and some saturated fat. Think avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, and coconut oil. 

As much as possible, avoid trans fat. Eat it less than once a year!

 

PPF FAQ

 

What about grains?

Think of this mantra as a guide for what each meal should contain. So, grains are fine, they just don’t need to be in every meal. And, keep in mind that different diets and different bodies have different requirements for grains. Vegans, for example, need more grains in their diet to meet the essential amino acids our bodies require. Someone who feels best on a high fat or higher protein diet, would likely keep grains to a minimum.

What about gluten-containing grains?

When considering grains, focus on eating the whole grain. So, if you took some into your hand, you could identify it, cook it and eat it. For example, a grain of rice, grains of quinoa, teff, amaranth, or oats. If your body can process gluten, you can eat it in very limited quantities, but get a majority of the grains you eat from non-gluten grains.

How much protein?

The amount of protein that works for your body depends on a variety of factors. The American Dietetics Association recommends 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (a kilogram is 2.2 pounds). So, if you weigh 140 pounds, the recommendation would be would be about 50-60 grams per day, or 17-30 grams per meal. However, using the ADAs guideline is a rough estimate– you may need more, you may need less.

What about starchy veggies?

Starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips are all fantastic, especially in the colder months. They’re rich in fiber and nutrients and so warming on cold days.

Ok, now it’s time for action!

Try this simple mantra out for the next couple of weeks and report back. In the comments, let me know if it’s helping you to create a healthier diet and have the energy and stamina to go after the things you want. 

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