8 SIMPLE WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF

Hi, this is Sarah writing. As a registered dietitian, I have been obsessed with food for a very long time. In fact, there was a time that food controlled me. It controlled my day-to-day activities, my confidence, my self-worth and my emotional health. I used to avoid high fat foods like butter and full fat dairy like the plague and chose sugar-free and fat-free processed foods instead. I counted every calorie, knew how much exercise I needed to do to burn-off what I had just consumed, and I would regularly obsess so much about what I shouldn’t be eating that when I did in fact eat the “evil” food, I would binge and feel terrible. And the cycle continued. Even though I looked healthy, I wasn’t. My body wasn’t healthy, and my mind space certainly wasn’t. Then, one day it snapped. I was tired of obsessing about food. I was all-of-a-sudden grossed out by all these processed “sugar free” foods that I once loved. My body started craving real food, real fats, real ingredients and I started listening. To this day, I listen to my body. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I crave French fries or ice cream, I eat it ­– I don’t have an allergy or medical reason not to! But on the day-to-day I eat whole, nourishing foods and I have never felt better. I no longer have to hop on the scale but when I do, I weigh less now than I did when I micromanaged every calorie. I am no longer obsessed with food. It is something that I love and am so grateful that I get to enjoy. And so I do, I enjoy, and I hope that for each and every one of you too. Here are 8 SIMPLE changes that you can make that don’t involve a lot of sacrifice or thought that can help you overcome any dietary hump you may be experiencing.

  1. EAT REAL FOOD. Despite all the controversies in the field of nutrition, most people agree that the most important thing is to eat real food. Real foods are naturally loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need to support our immune systems. They are typically low in sugar (they contain no added sugars), they can high in healthy fats and proteins, are good for the gut, and way better for the environment. Perhaps most importantly, it takes the focus off dieting and puts it into choosing real, whole foods. Choosing whole foods instead of processed/refined foods is one of the easiest things that you can for yourself and your health. Sure, it may take some getting used to and a little more planning on your end, but it’s worth it. Your health is worth it. You are worth it.
  1. CUT OUT REFINED SUGAR. Love sweets?! So, do I! But try looking for products that use coconut sugar or maple sugar instead of refined cane sugar. Unlike cane sugar, coconut sugar contains the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium + inulin (a fiber) that can slow glucose absorption. Did you know that maple sugar has fewer calories than cane sugar and also contains manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium, all of which are necessary to a daily diet? Likewise, these vitamins and minerals have shown to be beneficial to heart health and strong immune systems. Don’t overdo it, sugar is till sugar, but if you want to indulge – definitely opt for an alternative to cane sugar when possible.
  1. SWAP OUT CARBS. Replace with healthy fat and protein in 2 of your meals or snacks every day. Are you used to having toast, bagels or cereal for breakfast? Instead of focusing on the “carb” as your main dish, try swapping out for proteins and healthy fats and see how you feel. Proteins and fat will keep you full longer, won’t cause the blood sugar spike and crash, and will leave you with more energy throughout the day. Need some examples – here are a few ideas:
      • Breakfast: Farm fresh eggs cooked in grass-fed butter + avocado + leftover roasted broccoli + coffee (with a Ladybird Bomb, of course!)
      • Lunch: Tuna or grilled chicken salad made with avocado oil mayonnaise on salad with or cooked veggies (if that’s what you’re in the mood for), plus a handful of grain-free crackers or chips!
      • Snack: Hummus with veggies and a string cheese (or handful of nuts).
      • Dinner: Grass-fed beef hamburger (or protein of choice) with grilled veggies and baked sweet potato with butter.

    Swap out on or two of your meals every day to look something like this and your energy levels (and waistline) will thank you!

    1. EAT WILD CAUGHT FISH. Wild-caught fish offers nutritional, food safety, and environmental advantages over farmed fish. Farmed fish are fed diets that are not available in their natural habitat like corn and soy. Their man-made diets cause an imbalance in their natural fatty acid profile- changing the composition of Omega 3s to Omega 6s. Everyone says to eat fish for the Omega-3 fatty acids that they contain and that are so beneficial (Omega 3s support heart health, aid in weight loss, reduce inflammation, may support depression and the list goes on!). So, make sure you’re eating wild-caught fish to get the benefits that you’re looking for.
    1. SUBSTITUTE GRASS-FED BUTTER. Do you get sick of the USDA going back and forth on what is healthy and what is not? I remember when butter was to be avoided at all costs and substituted for toxic trans-fats, margarines and or other highly processed and inflammatory “fat-free” alternatives. The dietary guidelines still have a long way to go in what guidance they give, but it’s getting better. Or at least more people are taking control of their own health, becoming “health warriors” if you will, for themselves and their family. That’s why I am so happy to talk about the benefits of butter. Yep, real, full fat, delicious butter. All butter is delicious, but not all butter is created equal. When possible, it’s beneficial to use grass-fed butter vs. regular butter. Here’s why:
        • Compared to regular butter, grass-fed butter has higher amounts of vitamin K2 and a better ratio of healthy fats, such as omega-3s and CLA.
        • Vitamin K2 is a form of vitamin K that promotes bone and heart health
        • Grass-fed butter contains more of the antioxidant beta carotene than regular butter. Beta carotene has been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases.
        • Grass-fed butter is higher in unsaturated fatty acids when compared to regular butter. Unsaturated fatty acids have been linked to heart health benefits
        • Grass-fed butter may contain up to 500% MORE CLA per serving than regular butter.
        • Click here for the full report from health line.

      I’m not saying to go butter crazy or anything because too much of a good thing can be bad. But if you’re going to use it, use the REAL stuff and if you can, opt for the grass-fed version. Your health will thank you.

      1. ADD ONE NEW FRUIT OR VEGETABLE TO YOUR MENU EVERY WEEK. This may sound silly, but you never know if you like something unless you try it. For example, a few months ago if you would’ve asked me if I liked green beans, I would’ve responded with “yes, from a can, but not fresh”. That’s how I felt since I was a little girl and what I thought I still felt as an adult. But one day at the grocery store I decided to try something new. I bought and cooked fresh green beans and guess what? I LOVED them. They are on the menu every week now. I am so glad that I tried them again- otherwise I would be missing out! Need some suggestions: try swiss chard, artichokes, broccolini, beets, fresh mangos, kiwis, pomegranates, or star fruit. The options are almost endless, and your pallet will thank you.
      1. SWAP PASTA FOR LENTIL PASTA. I love pasta. My mom is Italian, born and raised in Milan, so, I REALLY love pasta. That’s why I am so happy that there are so many great alternatives to wheat pasta on the market. I love lentil pasta because it tastes like pasta and is loaded with protein and fiber. Banza and Tolerant are both great brands, but even Barilla has some options!
      1. BE KIND. Being kind to others is one of the best ways that you can love yourself. Being kind helps you feel good. Feeling good and knowing you’ve helped some else feel good is good for the soul, good for your mind, and good for the world. Let’s all be kind. 2020 was tough. Let’s make 2021 the year to be kind.