With all the diets, trends, and nutrition information out there it’s no wonder that eating healthy seems complicated. Too often we label food as “good” or “bad”, we avoid certain foods or food groups in order to fit inside a label, or follow certain rules because we think it’s the golden ticket to our health and wellness goals.
Unfortunately, there is no golden ticket because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition (as well as overall health and wellness). What works for you may not work for someone else. But that’s the beauty of it. You are incredibly unique. Embrace it!
Now that being said, food has the power to directly affect how you feel. Meaning: eating well helps you feel your best. This is why I have my whole food, plant based philosophy as the cornerstone of the Nourished by Nutrition’s 8 Elements for Balanced Living. It gives you the foundation you need to start living a balanced life.
The Nourished by Nutrition food philosophy is what I call “whole food, plant based”. It’s my approach to helping you cut through the nutrition noise and lay your foundation for eating well so you can focus on what makes YOU feel good, find balance, and truly enjoy the food you eat.
The Whole Food, Plant-Based Philosophy
This approach focuses on a whole food, plant-based diet as your foundation, while giving you the flexibility to tailor your meals to fit your lifestyle, uniqueness, and way that makes you feel your absolute best. It means fueling your body with nourishing foods MOST OF THE TIME.
When you focus on fresh, nutrient-dense foods most of the time, it allows you to realize how good food can make you feel. And when you feel, good and have energy, you have time to focus on and balance the other key element of living your best life.
How to get started:
Whole foods (minimally processed) – eating foods in their most natural state makes up the bulk of your diet. These foods are the way nature intended them to be. Minimally processed foods made from whole food ingredients (foods you know and can pronounce) with short ingredient lists can help make eating well quick and convenient. Stocking your pantry with canned beans, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, and the like, allows you to make meals in minutes.
Plant-based focus – the majority of your meals are made up of plant foods. This means focusing on plant proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. This variety of vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds and legumes provide a nutrient dense foundation. This alone provides you with all the nutrients your body needs but allows you to build upon with the addition of quality animal proteins if you choose.
Water, water, water – energy, digestion, and beauty. Water is essential to staying energized and feeling your best. Staying hydrated doesn’t have to only come from plain old water. Mix it up with infused water, herbal teas and foods. Yes, you can eat your water. Water-rich foods like cucumbers, greens, watermelon and broths all contribute to your hydration with the bonus of added nutrients and antioxidants.
Variety – variety is key! The saying “eat the rainbow” holds true. Different colors mean different nutrients and antioxidants, all of which our body needs to thrive. While I encourage you to set your focus on the color green, adding more color to your plate and throughout the day will help you get in the wide range of nutrients that will help you feel your best.
Nutrient density (No calorie counting) – all food are not created equal. Focusing on nutrient dense whole foods, allows you to free yourself from the idea of counting calories. Focus on what foods nourish your body and make it perform it’s best. Creating this habit of eating well frees you from the diet mentality and allows you the wiggle room to live life and enjoy the slice of cake.
Mindfulness – slowing down and tuning in. How you eat, what you eat, and why you eat are all centered around mindfulness. Eating what makes you feel amazing but also feeds your soul is essential to eating well and living in balance. This means you can make the decision to enjoy foods without any negative thoughts associated with it. You understand your emotions and cravings and feel empowered to confidently choose your food, whether it’s a kale salad or that fudgy double chocolate cookie.
Celebration – food is more the food for our cells. Food is a social connection, often rooted in tradition. When we start viewing food in this way, cooking a meal and feeding your self well turns into an act of self care and love. Setting aside time to meal prep and cook for yourself and/or others becomes an act of love. Connecting with ingredients and creating delicious meals allows for appreciation and the ability to heal our relationship with food.
Adjust to fit your lifestyle:
Animal protein – depending on your lifestyle you may choose to include animal proteins in your diet. This can 100% be apart of a plant-based lifestyle (because remember the plant-based foods create your foundation). When choosing animal products, quality is essential. Choose wild-caught, grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic. This means not only better quality in taste and nutrients but also supports more sustainable farming practices.
Dairy and Gluten – These are two of the most common food intolerances and can trigger inflammation. The majority of the recipes here are gluten-free and dairy free, or can easily be modified. That being said, that doesn’t mean YOU need to be gluten or dairy free. Listen to your body and look at your diet as a whole. If you are struggling with digestive issues, skin or health problems, trying eliminating these foods for a couple weeks and see how you feel. I also recommend working with a Dietitian (me or another certified professional) to help you tailor your lifestyle to feel your best.
Optimize – what can you add to your meal to give it an extra boost of nutrients? As apart of my abundance mindset coaching approach, I encourage you to start thinking, “what can I add to make this a little more nutritious?”. You don’t need “superfoods”, powders or expensive ingredients to eat well, but once you have a healthy foundation in place, boosting your nutrition with these additions is just a bonus.
What a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet is NOT:
A restrictive diet: This philosophy is not meant to be restrictive or mold you to fit a certain label. It’s actually designed to be the exact opposite. Giving up labels and listening to the way food makes me feel was the best thing I did for my health and I encourage you to do the same. Eating whole foods and plant based most of the time allows you to find balance and help heal your relationship with food. It creates a solid foundation out of nutrient-dense foods that are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals so you can thrive.
Cooking all your meals from scratch: Even with the best planning and meal prep routine make everything from scratch just isn’t realistic for everyone. It’s okay to rely on minimally processed convenience foods, especially when you’re in a time crunch! This requires taking a couple extra seconds to read the labels and compare brands, but it’s worth it. You can take a pantry stocked with quality staples that make it easy to get meals on the table in less than 15 minutes. I have lots in the works, so stay tuned for more meal planning and batch cooking guides, as well as product recs and tips and tricks to eating well without all the work!
Complicated: The idea here is to simplify eating well by bringing you back to the basics. Focusing on your diet and lifestyle as a whole, how you feel, and what brings you joy is all you need to start living your best, most nourished life. Make sure check out the 8 Elements of Balanced Living to help get you started.