Healthy Eating: Food for Energy
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
I'm not really about diets or counting calories or 'restricting'. I am super down for healthy eating, though, and I really want to make sure I'm taking in some food for energy. I know that I have not always eaten right (there was a long while when I was eating frozen pizza at least once a week). Luckily, my body is pretty good about craving balanced food choices. I feel sick if I have too many sweets or too much processed, fried, or oily foods. My body clearly says “eat some damn vegetables,” and so I listen.
But I don’t want to just eat vegetables sometimes and get by on my eating habits. I know that what I put into my body fuels me. It fuels the direction of my day, the energy I have, the potential for exercise and other healthy habits, my overall mood, and my ability to live a long and healthy life. So, yeah, I want to eat like a superhero.
I think that’s a lot easier than most people realize. There are so many rules and diets and crazy trends out there, and you can spend hours online and come out even more confused about what you should and shouldn’t eat. But really, the most important rules to healthy eating are very simple and obvious.
Listen to your body
Eat for energy and to feel awesome (meals of 50% produce, 25% protein, 25% complex carbs, and some healthy fat)
Drink tons of water (and tea and sometimes coffee, but very little else)
Eat more good food than bad (plenty of fruits & veggies, more lean protein, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, fewer simple carbs, and less sugary processed fried crap)
Everyday Energy Superfoods
Good food gives you energy and drives your attitude and your day. Refined carbs and sugar make you feel like shit. Once I really truly realized this and started experiencing it myself, I wanted to figure out which foods gave me the most energy and made me feel the most awesome, and I wanted them to be the core of my shopping list. Apparently, there are a ton of incredible nutrition-packed high-energy foods that are super delicious and varied and can make you feel like a superhero. Who knew?
Here are my top choices. They make up my grocery list of stand-bys and most of them are super cheap and quite tasty.
Core Grocery List
Green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli)
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, edamame, and other legumes
Walnuts/nuts/nut butters (also high in protein)
Seeds/flaxseed/Chia/Hemp (also high in protein)
Snacks & Drinks
Green tea, coffee, and water
Before I dive into these energy superstars, I want to briefly mention the meat vs. meatless debate. I wavered between vegetarian and pescatarian for a few years, and I’m not huge on dairy either. I could write an entire book on all of this, but the biggest advice I want to share is just this - eat less meat.
I do eat meat from animals, mostly fish and chicken, but I try to balance my meals and have fewer with meat in them. There are so many super good and healthy plant-based protein sources, and, also, eating meat totally kills the environment (and also, obviously, animals). Please continue to educate yourself; you can find some great documentaries on the topic in the resources section. All of that being said, I’ve included options for meat and meatless meals. Everyone’s body is different, so learn what makes you feel the best while also aligning with your values. You do you.
Breakfast - My top breakfast energy staples: eggs, berries, greek yogurt, whole grains, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Lunch - Almost always: greens, lean protein, and whole grains
Dinner - Smallest meal of the day: salmon, shrimp, chicken, plant-based protein + greens and whole grains
Snacks - Fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, carrots/cucumber/bell pepper with hummus & salsa, seaweed, plain air-cooked popcorn, dark chocolate
Favorite Breakfast Meals
Greek yogurt with berries (fresh or frozen) and seeds (typically chia, hemp, and flax)
Hard boiled egg, bag of nuts, piece of fruit (apple/banana/peach) - this one’s awesome for being out the door in seconds
Avocado (or nut butter) chia seed toast - be super choosy about your bread and choose whole grain over wheat or multi-grain (sprouted Ezekiel bread is awesome)
Oatmeal with peanut butter, berries (fresh or frozen), and chia/hemp/flaxseed
Shaved brussel sprouts with bacon and a fried egg
Scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach & mushrooms (or combined in an omelette)
I prefer to have similar lunches each day. If I can prepare something in advance, it’s so much easier to grab-and-go for work. The core theme is: greens, lean protein, grains optional. This often means either a salad or a wrap when it's warm out or soup when it's cold. I love pre-mixed salads (and slaws) from the grocery store because they are SO quick to throw together and beef up with toppings. It's also easy to make soup with a miso or bouillon base and throw in chicken, shrimp, edamame, nuts, beans, lentils, grains, veggies, etc.
I work hard to make dinner a smaller meal of my day. It is usually mostly green veggies and lean protein - meat (salmon, shrimp, chicken, once in a while red meat) or meat-free (beans, lentils, quinoa, edamame).
Best Meal-Prep Easy Dinners - You can serve these over brown rice or quinoa, or you can go grainless and prioritize protein and veggies. Make double and refrigerate or freeze a batch for later to save time.
Roasted chopped-up chicken and a bunch of veggies (broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, whatever) topped with olive oil and spices (I use S&P, Italian seasoning, cumin, red pepper, and garlic, but you do you). You can do this all on one pan at about 450° for 15-20 minutes.
Cooked shrimp or chicken (seasoned with cilantro & lime), black beans, tomatoes and/or bell peppers. Serve with salsa, avocado, and more cilantro.
Pan-seared salmon (or other healthy fish) with an easy roast vegetable (brussel sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus are some faves) or salad.
Stir-fry veggies (broccoli, snap peas, carrots, edamame, etc.) over brown rice. Most grocery stores have great pre-combined fresh or frozen stir-fry veggie options AND have easy, pre-made stir-fry sauces. Always be careful with store-bought sauces, as many of them have unnecessary added sugar and calories. Use in moderation.
Homemade ‘sushi’ with small-square seaweed snacks, smoked salmon, sliced cucumber, carrot, and avocado. This goes great with rice wine vinegar-enhanced brown rice. We just pick up a piece of seaweed in one hand and load it up with toppings with the other hand. Mini sushi tacos, if you will.
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