How many times has someone told you to “eat healthily”? It’s not a bad piece of advice. Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best gifts you can give to your body. Not only will it help to support your day-to-day activities, but a nutritious diet is essential for your longevity. Eat your greens today (and every day), and you’ll substantially lower your risk of developing any number of health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-limiting ailments.
Unfortunately, the difference between intent and execution is often quite significant. While many of us want to eat a healthier diet, how to do so is a common sticking point. Follow along as Dr. Casey Kelley, Founder and Medical Director of Case Integrative Health, takes us through a week’s worth of meals. From breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, read on for some sustainable (and delicious) tips on how to take your diet from sub-par to superb!
Colorful plant-based foods, specifically fruits, and vegetables, are the cornerstone of an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich diet that keeps you feeling your best all day long. Foods high in nutrients such as Vitamins A, B, C, and D are essential for your system and easily fit into a breakfast routine. Try making a smoothie for a quick, easy way to get some critical nutrients each morning. Blend dark, leafy greens with water or coconut milk for your base. Then blend in some frozen fruits (berries, in particular, will completely cover any bitter taste from the greens)- and voila! To take your smoothie over the top, consider blending some liquid K2-D3 at the end of your smoothie for an extra immune boost!
Lunches and dinners might feel more challenging to build than breakfast, particularly when in tandem with an already packed day. Fitting a more nutritious diet into your busy lifestyle requires some planning. Still, according to Dr. Kelley, “I’ve found it’s easier and cheaper to plan out what we’ll be cooking for the week than to think about where we’re ordering in from every night”! Not only that, but takeout is more expensive than a home-cooked meal and often contains hidden ingredients you may be trying to avoid. While restaurant meals are delicious (and can certainly play a role in your diet), they typically have higher amounts of sodium, saturated fats, and overall calories than home-cooked meals. As a bonus, cooking at home can be a fun activity and a great time to spend with your partner or family!
Okay, so cooking from home is a great option- but where to begin? Dr. Kelley recommends starting with the protein. She says, “We try to eat fish twice a week, poultry one to two times a week, and we tend to limit red meat to once a week. Usually, we’ll also have a vegetarian night and a leftover night”. Once you’ve chosen your protein, things start to get fun! Choose and experiment with different cuisines and spices- the possibilities are endless! To finish up the plate, Dr. Kelley adds, “With the protein, we add at least one vegetable (usually roasted), plus some starch, such as rice or quinoa.”
To add even more greens into your diet, Dr. Kelley recommends preparing a large salad at the beginning of the week. Quick tip- if you don’t add the dressing, the chopped vegetables will stay fresh for 3-4 days! Then add some nuts, dried fruit, an array of brightly colored vegetables, and top it all off with a mustard vinaigrette before serving! Plus, try to make enough that you can take the leftovers in for lunch the next day. You’ll save yourself the unnecessary cash and calories of a takeout lunch!
In saying all this, don’t feel pressured to follow any diet “perfectly.” Dr. Kelley reminds her patients, “I try to eat correctly 80% of the time- and that doesn’t always happen! Trying to be perfect is too much pressure, so shooting for 80% leaves room to leave your life”. So, have that piece of birthday cake (with zero guilt)! Just make sure to get back on the wagon tomorrow morning!