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Cooking for Wellness: Do's and Don't's

I sincerely hope you didn't come to this post hoping to find a bunch of rules that pertain to everyone when eating "right" because there's no such thing. What I mean by that is that there is no one set of rules that work for everyone, all the time. We all have different needs when it comes to eating for our overall health and wellness.

You're probably now wondering why I would ever write Do's and Don't's in the title if I didn't intend on giving you guidelines. Well, I will give you guidelines, just not in the way you'd probably imagined when you clicked on the post... These are a little more flexible.

Do: Let yourself have "fun foods".

Don't: Deprive yourself.

There's this horrible stereotype that in order to lose weight or get lean one must deprive themselves and eat only chicken and veggies. I'm here to tell you that's just wrong. Depriving yourself could actually have the opposite effect. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule wherein you eat foods that serve your overall wellness 80% of the time and save the other 20% of the time for "fun foods".

Do: Make healthy swaps.

Don't: Deprive yourself.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? This one is my go-to whenever someone is concerned about family gatherings, the holiday season, eating out and eating on vacation. If you're really that worried, make healthy swaps. An example might be grabbing tortilla chips instead of potato chips. Generally, they're not as processed. Or grab some fruit instead of candy. At a restaurant, ask them to make your dinner grilled or steamed instead of fried. Most places will do that, in fact, P.F. Chang's has a whole "steamed" menu already ready!

Do: Balance your water intake.

Don't: Deprive yourself.

Drinking enough water is key to your overall health and wellness. As a general rule, it's good to drink half of your body weight in ounces. If you are 150 lbs, shoot for 75 ounces. There's a lot of chatter out there about drinking a gallon of water per day and yes, this is great for you, if you've read some of my earlier posts you'd know I like to shoot for this. That said, it's not necessary and if you're new to drinking a lot of water, you might benefit from starting slow and working your way up to a gallon per day.

Do: Focus on your fruits and veggies.

Don't: Deprive yourself.

One of the best ways I've found to avoid snacking on the chips and high-sodium snack foods is to focus on getting 5-8 servings of fruits and veggies in per day. Because they're usually higher volume foods, I'm not as hungry for the snacks later on. I try to balance it out throughout the day, also. My typical breakfast is 2-3 servings of fruit. Then I go for 2-3 servings of veggies at dinner and again at lunch.

Do: Find your balance.

Don't: Deprive yourself.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there is no one rule or set of rules that work for everyone. You get to try different things and find out what your body does and doesn't like. For example, I do better eating a lot of lean protein. Others may find they only need 25-30% of their daily calories to come from protein, I'm closer to 30-35%. I also like to balance a lot of different types of foods and make sure I am getting in carbs, protein and fat. Find what works for you and what balance of macronutrients you need.

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