We're going to start with the basics first. We need to all understand what the heck healthy eating is and then we'll get into budget friendly ways to eat right and workout. This first post's food option isn't fancy. It's only as tasty as you are creative with spices and since this is, in part, a foodie blog, just check out my recipes for something more interesting.
It was stupid of me to realize that not everyone knows what healthy eating is especially since I just got done writing a post that told you all that I discovered clean eating in 2011. Some people are under the impression that 100 calorie prepackaged cookie snacks are healthy or that drinking fruit juice is healthy. (Side Rant: Eating fruit is better than the sugar filled juices bottled today. Try juicing an orange. You'll realize how many oranges it took to make a glass you typically drink and then understand, you're drinking too much fruit in breakfast alone. Go ahead and dump extra sugar in that while you're at it as most fruit juices include added sugar or they're concentrated. So you get the most fructose bang for your sippage buck. Fruit is fine, but in moderation.) Some people think that eating hamburger helper with a bag of frozen peas and carrots mixed in is healthy because you're eating vegetables, obviously. Forget that it's processed. (This was me in 2009.) There really is a lot of information on clean eating today, so if you want something more specific than what I'm about to tell you, just Google it.
Clean Eating = Healthy Eating = Eating REAL Food
Basically, real food is anything that grew or had to be killed and eating real food is eating the way nature intended. It's that simple. The difficult part is knowing how much to eat of what. Oatmeal, peanut butter, and fresh fruit are all real food, but if you tried eating only those things, you're not going to be healthy and fit like you want to be. You need the right combo of protein, carbs, and fat coming from a variety of REAL food to achieve health. The right combo is also tricky. Genetics play a big role in how much your body needs. First, learn to eat real food and get rid of processed junk and then, figure out portion sizes. It's trial and error and/or working with a fitness coach or nutritionist to figure out what macronutrient combo works best for you. You'll discover that starving yourself will harm your body rather than help you lose fat. Fuel your body with the right foods and everything will work itself out. I'm about to get overly detailed in describing the following macronutrients, but Tosca Reno said it: Eat 5-6 small meals a day that consists of lean protein and complex carbs. Your diet makes up 80% of the way you look while exercise and genetics are responsible for the other 20%. You really should read her books or just enter my giveaway to win her book yourself!
So again, I'll get down to the basics. I love carbs, but proper portions must be considered. Most people I know, are carboholics. Now, I don't care if it's whole grain whatever. You might be eating too much of it. Some people think that a side of chips, french fries, or mashed potatoes count as your vegetable. From here on out, lets make something clear. Yes, certain foods you love (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, pumpkin, winter squash...) are vegetables, but they're also super starchy. So you're going to start looking at them like starches, okay? Low glycemic index vegetables (most greens, summer squash, cauliflower..) should always be your go-to vegetable and good thing, because I'll let you eat as much of it as you want. Try to overeat spinach! I do. It's why I drink it in my protein shakes twice a day! Eventually, you'll start to just feel wrong if you haven't eaten all of your greens for the day. It's like forgetting to take your vitamins.
You don't like vegetables? Well tough! You need to learn to love them and I say learn because you CAN learn to love them. Vegetables are the medicine society looks over. Instead of looking for a pill, eat well and look/feel good too. I used to hate: onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans (Dad hated them, therefore I hated them. I LOVE them now.), brussel sprouts, and green peppers. I wouldn't even try kale, collard greens, eggplant, rutabaga, beets, or any "odd" vegetable option out there. Today, I crave the variety and I love it all. I also used to hate raw tree nuts and today it's my favorite food. You must TRAIN your taste buds by getting rid of the CRAP (because it's not food) and eating the real stuff until magically, it tastes good.
As far as fruit goes, most fruit is going to be like your starchy vegetables. Consumed in moderation, but if you had to choose between binge eating apples or apple pie, just eat the apple! Which also reminds me, apple pie, cranberry sauce, fruit candy, etc are not fruit. So do not try to justify indulging in treats by calling them fruit. There's a time an a place for treats and it's NOT everyday.
This was a shock to me. Most people I know don't eat enough protein. Protein with strength training is how you gain beautiful muscles. These muscles not only give you great shape and in my case, some curves, but muscles help you burn fat so it's easier to maintain a trim body. Most sources out there recommend eating anywhere between 0.8-1 times your ideal body weight in grams. Work with a nutritionist or fitness coach to figure out what's right for you.
Good fats in the correct amounts, are good for you. You need fat to be healthy. Like carbs, you'll have to play around with the portions to see what's right for you, but don't steer away from fat because of all the old misconceptions out there. Look to get your fats from raw nuts and seeds, nut oils, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc.
Now that you have a better idea of what real food is, lets figure out the purchases to make it budget friendly. First, if you can afford to eat out anywhere including fast food restaurants, chain restaurants, or even sit down restaurants, you can afford to eat well at home. So stop eating out. Even eating healthy/everyday food out is just silly to me. It's so much cheaper to make it at home and you control what's in it.
Invest in a few items that go a long way:
- Coconut oil
- Tupperware (to cook all your lunches ahead of time, for leftovers, or to freeze a meal for a lazy day)
- Olive oil (especially if you use it in a mister)
- Spices (salt and pepper are a must!)
- Crock pot (great way to easily cook down tough meat)
I will list out cheaper food now and next time, I'll discuss tips.
- Buy the large, less tender, and generally cheaper cuts of meat. Use the crock pot to make it delicious!
- Bone-in meats are usually cheaper. (Bone-in pork chop, chicken breast or legs, whole chicken or whole turkey.)
- Eggs (They are cheap, make them a go to. Boil a bunch on Sunday and have a couple with an apple every day for breakfast.)
- Stay away from cold cut meats. Not only do they have a good chance of being made with something other than food, but they're expensive!
- Brown rice
- Sweet potato
- Frozen peas and corn
Fruits/Vegetables: Vegetables are CHEAP!
- Seasonal fruits are cheaper
- Oranges, bananas, apples
- Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
- Bag of onions
- Seasonal greens are cheaper (asparagus, kale, zucchini)
- Frozen spinach (add to anything)
Breakfast:- Boil 14 eggs (2 per day)
- Cook oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia, 1/2 banana everyday
- Can look like breakfast OR
- Eat an apple with a handful of raw almonds
- Cook (grilled, crockpot, saute, etc) 3-3.5 lbs protein (round bottom steak, bone-in chicken, bone-in pork chop, lean ground beef, ground turkey). This gives you 3.5-4 oz protein 2-times a day.
- Cook (steam, saute, roast, or braise) 10 cups of cheap greens in coconut oil: broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, frozen spinach. Embellish with some colorful vegetables if you can afford it. Eat this with the cooked protein.
- Bake or microwave 7 sweet potatoes (1 sweet potato per lunch)
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with berries AND
- Raw broccoli, cauliflower, celery
- Lunch plan without the sweet potato
Again, depending on how much protein, carbs, and fat you need determines how your meal plan looks, but you can determine that yourself and easily make all of this food ahead of time and be set for the week. Eating real food doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. You just have to stop buying junk, take out, soda, or other drinkable calories. Once you get in the habit of making all of your meals, eating the next meal and saying no to the crap around you becomes so easy. Make health and good fuel for your body a priority and you'll end up spending less and looking good.
We'll talk more next time! Leave a comment if you have any questions that you want me to address.