3 Guidelines for Successful Nutrition

          Nutritional information is everywhere.  There is so much knowledge out there it can make you head explode.  All these plans and theories are great, but they all seem to contradict each other as well.  At one point I tried to read as many of these books as possible.  I too wanted the answers to successful nutrition, and I've been essentially experimenting on myself for the better part of 15 years.  Along the way I've learned a few things, and attempted to unlearn even more.  I find the science behind these books interesting, but also am fully aware that most people don't care as long as they look good and feel good (maybe).  Better nutrition will lead to looking better, feeling better, and performing better at anything and everything we attempt to do, whether it's working out, our jobs, or our past times.
          At the end of 2016, for about a 2 week stretch, I ate extremely poorly.  With that came a lethargy and heaviness that I really don't care to experience again.  Now to clarify, my bad eating is still probably better than most folk's definition of "healthy" eating; I'm not bragging, I'm just saying.  It made me realize, that the way I felt for those 2 weeks, was how most people feel for all day everyday.  And the saddest part, most people don't even realize it, and haven't experienced feeling good in years.  The other issue, is that stigma that goes along with the word "healthy" or "diet".  I despise the word diet, and what it insinuates.  Diets result in short term fixes.  Viewing your eating habits as nutrition is a long term fix.  So let's go ahead and fix ourselves for the long term, and attempt to do it as simply and easily as possible
           First off, I'm not a registered dietician, so I don't have any ground to stand on as far as my authority.  Take what you read here with a grain of salt (you like that).  If you have food allergies or any other diseases that require you to eat a certain way, don't change your habits due to the following guidelines.  Secondly, this is nutrition as dumbed down as possible.  There is a rabbit hole with vast amounts of knowledge and details.  We are scratching the surface, and we are going to do it with 3 guidelines.

Single Ingredient Foods
           If you center your nutrition around foods that only contain one ingredient, you're winning.  Chicken is chicken, a potato is potato, spinach is spinach, and bread is a bunch of "stuff" mixed together to form a substance we call bread.  Again, this is as simple as it gets.  There are a few exceptions to the rule as corn, peanuts, soy, sugar and liquid sugars are not on the docket.  Fruits (earn fruit by working out) and nuts should be consumed in limited quantities.  
          If you MUST eat multi-ingredient foods, buy the version with less ingredients.  Daisy sour cream only has one ingredient, versus other brands that have 5-8 ingredients.  Salsa is also a great multi-ingredient food made up of multiple single ingredient foods.

Create Your Own Convenience
           There is virtually nothing positive in this life that humans have achieved without some form of prepping, planning, and work.  Why would our health/nutrition not be the same?  Every Sunday, Cindy and I plan out 5-6 meals (typically dinners) for the week.  Sunday dinner then becomes Monday lunch, Monday dinner becomes Tuesday lunch and so on.  This way, instead of stopping off and grabbing a convenient fast food meal or something else on the way home, I always know that lunch is ready and available.  We've created our own convenience.
          The other aspect of this is cooking and pre-prep.  You have to commit to cook a few days a week.  Potatoes and rice take longer to cook, so we cook them in bulk.  If we need 2-3 potatoes for dinner, why not just make 5+ for the rest of the week.  The same goes for rice.  If we are going to make 1 cup, we might as well just make 2-3 cups and have enough for the rest of the week.  
           Time is the greatest excuse we hear.  Seriously, you can grill up meat in about 10 minutes.  Crock pots don't require attention or your presence.  You can bake potatoes while watching television, social media-ing, reading, working, or whatever else you do.  Wrap them in foil, put them in the oven (even if it's not preheated yet), walk away for an hour or two and you're done.
           A little cooking can go a long way to your health and again, creating your own convenience with some pre-made meals. 

Be Satisfied and Enjoy your Food
          This is a little vague, but the bottom line is, leave the table satisfied (not stuffed out of your mind...or pants for that matter), and make your food taste good.  If your constantly hungry or starving yourself for some asinine diet, at some point you're going to break and stuff your face with whatever you can find.  Being satisfied is important, eat enough, but only when you're hungry, not because it's "time" to eat.
           Healthy eating doesn't require your food to be bland.  You MUST make your food taste good.  Good nutrition is easy when your food actually taste great.  Learn to use herbs and spices.  Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder are staples at our house.  You can create a completely different tasting meal uses the same ingredients, simply by changing a few spices.  Your phone has every recipe know to man, woman, and child.  Use it.  One more thing, don't go out and completely restock your spice rack.  Budget in a new spice every couple weeks to a month.  Variety in foods is a good thing.

           I love the way we eat.  The food tastes great, and I eat as much as I want because the food is real food and not a bunch of fake ingredients.  Portion control is important, but not as important as putting the right foods in your body.  Follow these 3 guidelines above, drink enough water, enjoy the occasional pizza or bowl of ice cream, and get right back on with eating normal food the way it was intended to be eaten.