the kdl guide: how to be healthy

How To Eat Well: Three Simple (And Realistic!) Steps

Each month, we at KDL are focusing on one subject, and how to REALLY master it. In January, we are exploring what it means (and takes) to be healthy in a manageable, realistic, start-from-basics way. Up this week: How to eat well.

I recently joined an exercise establishment (a gym!) for the first time in five years, and if that weren’t already enough of a commitment to wellness, I actually go between three and four times per week, and I LOVE it. What’s changed, you and my entire social circle and most of my family ask? The gym is three blocks and zero avenues away, the classes are amazing, and it serves as a dedicated time for me and me only (I have three children). Do you see what I did there? I identified my wellness parameters, and I found a satisfying solution.

The same rubric essentially applies to healthy eating. What does eating well mean to you? My bar, for example, was set rather low: What can I eat instead of my kids’ leftovers while standing over the trashcan? More specifically, what can I do to feel nourished from dawn ’til dusk, and continue on my path to feel better in my skin?

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The answers came naturally to me doing something I normally do anyway. I read a lot of blogs, and I follow a lot of people on Instagram. Among my daily scroll is Bon Appetit and its spin-off sites, Healthyish and Basically. It was among those three that I learned of jammy eggs, easy weeknight Italian Wedding soup, and spicy Sriracha shrimp with ribbons of fresh herbs. I learned to strive to pack a plate with a protein, a vegetables and a grain each night from Dinner, A Love Story (where I also learned to make an enormous pot of chili and leave it on the counter with fixings at a pre-trick-or-treat Halloween party, a move for which I am now mildly famous). Bonberi taught me about sprouted sourdough bread. The Feed Feed taught me how to make an epic charcuterie board. And Kale.Life taught me how to make a great mayo-less slaw, because I have mayophobia, a term I may have just created.

I also downloaded the MyFitnessPal app — not to obsessively count my calories, but to keep a log of what I was eating until I could better educate myself about what was passing my lips everyday and make smarter choices. From the app, I learned that if my favorite savory breakfast toasts included both avocado and cheese, then I was eating way too many fats in one sitting. At snack time, I found myself reaching for fruits, vegetables and proteins rather than handfuls of my kids’ Goldfish crackers. Most importantly, I found that I had lots more energy, too.

Let’s review how to eat healthfully!

Step one: Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish. For me, it was eating more whole foods and practicing more mindful consumption. For you, it can be incorporating more vegetables, losing a few pounds, or experimenting with eating smaller meals and snacks more frequently, instead of a couple of very heavy meals.

Step two: Get online and get inspired! People are doing very creative things with food; let’s copy them all!

Step three: Find a way to keep yourself accountable. A mindset switch that I made was realizing that if I indulged at one meal, the day wasn’t “ruined” – there was always time to eat clean at the next one! Apps, journaling, texting with a friend who is also trying to change her eating habits are all impactful ways to make positive changes.

Bonus step: Go buy the following five ingredients that have become my Holy Grail of kitchen staples, and incorporate them into your life.

Raw, probiotic sauerkraut: Use to top avocado toast and for tanginess in grain bowls.

Labne: Dip sliced carrots into this Mediterranean Kefir cheese or scramble it into eggs.

Everything seasoning: Sprinkle it on salads for extra crunch and flavor.

The Miso Ginger Dressing from the Whole Foods sushi counter: Pairs extremely well with salmon, smashed cucumbers with sesame seeds, brown rice or quinoa bowls with a jammy egg on top, your own fingers.

Lemons: Squeeze one over a salad with good olive oil and you’ll never buy a pre-made dressing again, or into a homemade chicken soup for another layer of flavor.

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