It’s easy to get lost in all the nuances of nutrition.One minute fat is evil and will kill you, then it’s carbs are evil and will kill you.
Or, being vegan is the only way to live to 100 years old, only to turn around and be told that plants are bad for us and the carnivore diet is the way to go.
Most people have trouble filtering all of this information, figuring out who they should listen to and who they shouldn’t listen to, and don’t get me started on food and nutrition documentaries on Netflix.
So, where do you start?
Just fall back to the basics. You don’t need an intermittent fasting, carb backloading, fancy supplement diet. You just need to eat whole, unprocessed foods most of the time.
What should a meal look like? You want a protein, a carb, a vegetable, and a source of fat. That’s pretty easy, and pretty boring. Boring is okay, because once you begin to understand the boring basics, you can branch out and still stay within the boundaries of your diet.
But what happens when you list out the available options for each one?
Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon, eggs, greek yogurt, tuna, shrimp, scallops, cod, bison, lamb
Rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, bread, pasta, corn, oats
(Note: fruit can go here as well)
Broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, mixed greens, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, peppers, fennel, mushrooms, onions, garlic, leeks, winter squash, summer squash, asparagus, green beans, peas
Avocado, nuts, seeds, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, cheese, cream
(Note: fatty cuts of meat shouldn’t be combined with fat. Examples would be whole eggs, ribeye steaks, and pork shoulder)
That’s a decent amount of choices there. The smallest list is starches with eight options you could pick from.
Pick one food from each of those categories and that makes your meal. You don’t have to be stuck with eating chicken or white fish three times a day to be successful with your goals (though you could if you really wanted to).
Now, what about portion sizes?
Protein: 4-8oz, which is roughly 1 or 2 palm-fulls
Starch: ½-1 cup, which is roughly 1-2 cupped handfuls
Vegetables: 1-2 cups, which is roughly the size of 1-2 fists
Fats: 1-2 tablespoons, roughly the size of your thumb for oils (note: these you might need to look up. For example, ½ an avocado is a serving and has the same amount of fat as 1 TBSP of olive oil. Serving sizes can vary greatly with fat sources.)
Okay great, now you know what to eat and how much to eat, but how do you keep it from tasting like a cardboard box?
Use condiments like BBQ sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, citrus juice, or mustard. Condiments should be under 50 calories per serving, so be careful with some of the BBQ sauces.
Adding a little acid and salt to most foods make a big difference in terms of flavor. Next time you steam broccoli, throw some lemon juice on it and it’ll taste much better. Before you message me about salt intake, if adding salt makes vegetables palatable to you, that’s way better than avoiding them all together.
Still having issues with cooking? Buy a few cookbooks. Go to a bookstore or Amazon or Scribed and look through a few and start learning; pick a few that appeal to you and work for your schedule and the tools you have in your kitchen.
Can’t cook? Most grocery stores have rotisserie chickens or you can get the premade steak or chicken from Costco that Devin posted about a while ago. Are they the best options? Probably not, but they’re way better than ordering take out or running to Wawa.
There you go, hit the servings sizes and stick with protein, carbs, fats, and vegetables and you can’t go wrong with your diet. If you have trouble putting stuff together, a few cookbooks may help you.