What comes to mind when you think of the word “diet”? Does your brain immediately jump to thoughts of restricting calories, measuring portions, eliminating entire food groups, and generally pondering “all things unfun” related to food? If your answer is yes, we have good news! None of that is necessary. Here’s why: When you eat in a way that fuels both your body and your appetite, the word “diet” takes on new meaning. It becomes all about the way you consume your nourishment, not how you constrain it. So here are some suggestions for any of you warriors looking for an approach to eating that will keep you feeling healthy, happy, and satisfied.
The Food Groups
To stay healthy, your body needs to receive nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from a variety of sources. The best way to make sure this happens is to eat a wide variety of foods. One way you can track this is to eat foods from all the food groups. What are these food groups, you ask? (Even if you didn’t, just play along, okay?) They are: vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins (meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes), and dairy. Fats and oils, although not officially a food group, are considered essential to a healthy diet because they are a key source of essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
There are always exceptions, of course. For example, if you’re one of our vegan warriors or you have a dairy allergy, then low-sugar soy-, grain- and nut-based milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D are a great alternative. Additionally, you may have other food allergies, preferences, or issues to consider. But keeping these categories front of mind can help ensure you’re consuming the variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.
Focus on the Foods You Love
Now that you’ve cozied up to the food groups, start looking for foods within each that you love to eat. Choose a variety to ensure you’re getting a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, because each food will be beneficial in its own way. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find a good overview of nutrient-rich foods on Familydoctor.org.
Once you’ve found your faves, start looking for dishes, snacks, and recipes that combine them in delicious ways. There are, as you can imagine, a lot of different websites out there offering up suggestions for delicious and nutritious recipes. Feel free to wander around the web to find some favorites, or just head over to X3’s Virtual Studio where we’ve shared a great selection of healthy recipes to check out!
While you’re exploring your culinary options, remember this: certain foods that you may think of as taboo (we’re looking at you, slice of veggie pizza) actually represent a balanced meal when enjoyed responsibly. And these last two words — “enjoyed responsibly” — actually bring us to our next topic: balance.
Embrace the Beauty of Balance
Guess what, warriors? You don’t have to be perfect. That’s worth repeating: You don’t have to be perfect. There’s no such thing; perfection doesn’t exist. But what does exist is the very real — and ultimately freeing — concept of balance.
When it comes to the way you eat, embracing the beauty of balance starts with defining what “balance” means for you. Is it having one day a week where you don’t have to worry about what you eat? Is it focusing on being (your individual concept of) “good” 75% to 80% of the time and reserving the remaining 20% to 25% for wiggle room? Or is it simply giving yourself permission to indulge, here and there? Point is, it’s okay to mix “less-than-ideal” foods into your overall healthy and nutritious diet. So have that slice of cake. Order that side of fries. Just don’t overdo it (but don’t underdo it either). See? Balance.
Get Guidance From an Expert
It’s not always easy to figure out what an overall healthy diet looks like for you. There are a lot of factors to consider — how old you are, how intensely you work out, your genetic makeup, food sensitivities or allergies, and more. So an approach that works really well for one warrior might not be the right for another. That’s where consulting an expert helps. A certified nutritionist can help you determine what kind of adjustments you need to make to ensure your body is getting the nutrition it needs. They can also give you recommendations on ways to maintain balance in your diet. At X3, our trainers are also very knowledgeable about nutrition and can help you explore and establish an eating style that’s right for you.
So, the overarching message here: to keep your body happy and healthy, you need to feed it food that fuels and nourishes it. Staying on track with your eating is a lot easier when you avoid extremes, like severely restricting your calories or cutting out entire food groups. Find an approach to eating that meets your body’s nutritional needs as well as it feeds your appetite, fits your lifestyle, and pleases your palate.