The Simple Diet Principles I Follow
I get questions ALL the time about what my diet is like – what I eat, what I don’t eat, etc. For this reason, I compiled my list of diet principles that anyone else can follow. I have found that these principles worked for me, and you are welcome to try them as well. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and even though this is what I generally go by, this does not mean it is necessarily right for you.
Below lists the simple diet principles I follow:
1. No sugar
I’d say I definitely get less than 10 grams of sugar per day and really the only sugar I get comes naturally from vegetables ( if any) and maybe occasionally fruit. The foods I eat don’t have sugar in them and so I don’t even have to think about watching my sugar intake at this point.
2. Protein at every meal
I always try to get some protein at each meal because it keeps me full and doesn’t cause fluctuations in my blood sugar. I also make a point to get enough protein because I exercise almost every single day and the muscles I am breaking down need protein to build them back up to become stronger.
Protein is hard for your body to digest and you can lose up to 30% of the calories from the protein source just from digestion! This means if you eat 100 calories of protein, you will only absorb around 70 of those calories.
3. Limit snacking
I make myself not be a snacker for many reasons. Number one, is that it is annoying to constantly be hungry and thinking about the next meal! Instead I make sure my main meals are large enough to keep me full for at least 3 hours before I need to eat again. The only time I might snack is between lunch and dinner if there is a long time gap. When I do snack, I try to always get a mix of protein, fat and fiber to keep me full and keep my blood sugar even.
Snacking many times throughout the day may put you in a fat storage state because anytime you eat something, you are going to raise insulin (except for the exception of pure fat with no carbs or protein). This is another reason I don’t advocate snacking.
4. Fat at every meal
When in doubt, eat fat. Fat is slow to digest meaning it will keep you fuller for longer. Fat is also the building block of hormones and keeps you skin looking healthy. It does raise not increase blood sugar and does not increase insulin unlike both carbs and even protein. Fat is super satisfying, meaning it tastes good and adds flavor to foods.
5. No refined carbohydrates
This basically translates to no grains and no processed foods. Before I even knew about the benefits of cutting out refined grains, I had already cut them out from my diet because I felt they weren’t doing much to keep me full – and didn’t even taste that great! I only have minimal grains on cheat day (read below), and even then I try to always go for the least processed.
Instead of a tortilla to wrap the main food, why not cut the tortilla out and just add more of the main food, such as chicken and avocado. Or add in a bunch of vegetables as your carbohydrate component. Another one of my favorite substitutes is cauliflower rice instead of rice – it tastes exactly the same!
6. Fiber at every meal
I am to get as much fiber as I can, and at every meal. Fiber is not absorbed meaning you won’t absorb the calories from fiber. For this reason, it keeps you fuller longer and may help to absorb calories from other foods so you don’t absorb them. My favorite fiber containing foods are vegetables, and if I don’t have vegetables readily available I will try to get fiber in another form like chia seeds or flax seeds.
7. Vegetables are my carbs
Did you know that vegetables are carbohydrates? I try to get at least 5 servings (aka 5 cups) of vegetables a day. Sometimes I only get this at dinner, but I also will try to include at lunch, and sometimes breakfast – if I’m not having a bulletproof coffee. I try to mix it up, but my favorite vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower (I love cauliflower rice), and Brussels sprouts. I also can’t live without my spiralizer, and I make “zoodles” almost every single night. Read about my favorite vegetables to spiralize here.
8. Daily coffee
I love the taste of coffee and I love the health benefits of coffee even more! Read about the top health benefits of coffee here. I drink a couple cups of coffee just about everyday, and my favorite breakfast is blending coffee with grass-fed butter and oil – read more about this here.
9. Lots of water
The health benefits of water are endless. It’s great for skin, digestion, energy, preventing headaches, the list goes on. I aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water daily and I always keep a water bottle on me.
10. Limit artificial sweeteners
I don’t completely shun artificial sweeteners, but I do limit how much I take in. I limit them because artificial sugars in general are highly processed, and studies have shown that eating them increases insulin, the fat storage hormone, putting you in a fat storage state – I definitely don’t want that. The sweeteners right now that I think are OK in limited quantities include the most natural ones, such as monk fruit and stevia.
The only other sweetener I will consume in very limited quantities is sucralose ONLY because it is in some of my favorite protein bars. I’ve found that consuming a small amount of sucralose here and there doesn’t seem to affect my body.
11. Indulge only in the best
If I’m going to have a piece of cake or pancakes, or something I almost never eat – its gotta be good! In this way I don’t snack on treats in the office or a mediocre pastry at a chain cafe or something. If you are going to indulge, make it worth it.
12. Cheat day
Let’s face it, a cheat day is really a carb day right?! I personally can’t be (and don’t want to be) perfect all the time. For this reason, I designate one day a week where I veer from my diet and eat things I don’t normally eat (aka mostly carbs!). I try limit the refined carbs as much as I can, and some of my favorite high carb snacks include banana and oat cookies (literally just banana and oats) and baked sweet potatoes. I do make a point of exercising at a greater intensity this day so that most of these carbohydrates will be funneled to muscle rather than fat stores.
13. Organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised
These are the only buzz words I look for in food items. I am especially picky about protein sources – if I go out to eat at a restaurant and the protein is not organic, grass-fed, or pastured, then I’m likely going to order the vegan option. If animals are raised in stressful conditions, or fed food meant to fatten them up quickly (i.e. grain-fed), I don’t want that in my body!
Now you know my diet principles! Take what you can from the above and adapt it to fit your personal preferences and lifestyle. If you are going to follow just one principle, it should be to cut out sugar from your diet.
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab
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