Eating well isn’t complicated, but it can be difficult. Processed, sugar-filled convenience foods lurk at every turn, and real, long-lasting results only come from consistency.
How do you stay on track with so many traps and temptations in the world?
There are no shortcuts to healthy living, but savvy nutrition experts have learned tips and tricks that make eating well enjoyable and even easy. This knowledge comes from years of trial and error in finding out how to incorporate good nutrition into daily life.
Here, CrossFit foodies share their favorite recipes, tips and advice to help you stay on track.
Get a good frittata recipe in your repertoire. This can be used for any meal and can be changed to meet your macros. If you need a higher fat meal, use whole eggs, add salmon and top with avocado. Need more carbohydrates? Make a Spanish-style omelet with potatoes and vegetables and use egg whites (see image above).
The single most important nutrition habit I can get a client to form is a meal-prep routine. Some people get overwhelmed by images on Instagram of 21 perfectly prepared meals and snacks portioned out into containers. It makes you think meal prep has to be all or nothing. I teach clients that meal prep is anything that makes it easier to eat well when you're busy. It can be as simple and passive as boiling eggs for snacks to bring to work or as involved as cooking every meal you will eat for the week. It all depends on how much time you can commit. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks makes it an enjoyable and educational experience!
The two most important categories of food to prep are protein and vegetables because most people don't eat enough of either. If they're prepped and convenient, you're more likely to eat enough. You can easily marinate and grill or bake chicken in bulk and grill or roast veggies in bulk. For even more convenience, you can buy rotisserie chicken and pre-seasoned frozen vegetables in steamer bags. Freezing actually doesn't drastically decrease nutrient content of vegetables.
Focus on nutrient density by adding fermented foods and flavorful spices to your cooking. Even adding one or two tablespoons of sauerkraut will increase your intake of probiotics, which can affect gut health and immunity. Spices make food taste good, but ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are chock full of anti-inflammatory compounds that are beneficial for workout recovery, cognition and digestive health.
Life and nutrition are all about choices, so choose wisely. Pay attention to your calories, macronutrients and micronutrients.
For example, compare the breakfast choice of a chocolate-chip muffin from Starbucks (440 calories: 7 g protein, 60 g carbs/39 g sugar, 21 g fat, 2 g fiber) with the better choice of 1 cup of 2 percent cottage cheese topped with a 1/2 cup of pineapple and 12 almonds (340 calories: 33 g protein, 25 g carbs/19 g sugar, 12 g fat, 3 g fiber).
The second choice gives you much more macronutrient value: less processed sugar, healthy fats and substantially more protein. This is an easy breakfast to make, especially if you’re on the go. You get more nutritional value and save time and money by creating your own breakfast.
Nutrition is as personalized as your workout, especially when dealing with food intolerances. Not every “diet” works for everyone, and you may need to constantly tweak what you’re eating to find how your body best responds. For example: It took me over four years to find foods within the Paleo Diet that worked for me without leaving me bloated. Nuts would bloat me, too much coconut would bloat me, and cauliflower was just painful. These are commonly used in Paleo cooking but didn’t work for me. Keep tweaking. … Now I am my strongest and feel my best and know what I can and can’t eat. An elimination diet is really the best way to do it.
For example, I make rutabaga rice in my food processor. I remove the skin first, then I use the julienne attachment on my processor to get “sticks” from the rutabaga. Once I have the “sticks,” I use the S blade and pulse it to create a rice-like texture (see photo at right). I steam it slowly in a big pan with some salt and a tiny bit of water (1 tbsp. at a time—let it absorb, add more), and when it softens I add some cooking oil and spices to crisp it up.
There are a million nutrition tips, but without the correct mindset none of it matters. My best tip: Get your mind right before you attempt the change. Expect it to be hard. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Your goal is not the end result (lose 30 lb.). Your goals are your daily required actions (eat real food, enjoy treats in moderation, exercise daily). If you need help, hire a coach.
Answers edited for space and clarity.
About the Author: Hilary Achauer is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health and wellness content. In addition to writing articles, online content, blogs and newsletters, Hilary writes for the CrossFit Journal. To contact her, visit hilaryachauer.com.
Cover image: Liam Holmes