Healthy Eating Made Easy
Today more than ever is a great time to re-focus on healthy eating and reacquaint yourself with the kitchen. Take the opportunity to curb bad habits, stock your home with nutritious whole foods and discover (or rediscover) the benefits of healthy home cooking. Sound a little overwhelming? We promise - it’s not! We caught up with healthy-living guru Kim Samovitz, co-founder of Be Well, for some insider tips, hacks and benefits of healthy eating.
There are so many “diets,” eating preferences and practices out there today. How do I know which one is right for me?
The most common questions I get asked are about diet trends. The truth is, everybody’s different, but for the most part, the human body is very adaptable to all diets. When I say diets, I’m referring to long term diets such as gluten-free, vegan, paleo, etc. I find that short term diets are ineffective and can cause harm to the body. Most people will do a diet - for example, the keto diet - for a month and then they’ll go right back to their old habits. I like to look at it this way - can you do a diet like the keto diet forever? No, it would cause harm to the body and it isn’t practical, so this is a short term diet trend and you should avoid it. The best diet to practice is to be aware of what you are putting into your body, incorporate a good variety of whole foods and vegetables into your diet and eliminate as much processed food as possible.
Most people believe healthy eating is expensive. Do you find this to be true?
Healthy eating is just as affordable as unhealthy eating! I think when people think of healthy eating they think of expensive trendy restaurants and grocery stores, but you can eat healthy anywhere by making the right choices. We’re so fortunate that most grocery stores offer healthy options now, so it’s easy to simply sub that frozen lasagna for a fresh pre-packaged salad a couple of times a week. It’s probably very close in price point. Now when you take it to the next level, it gets even more affordable to eat healthy.
It might seem at first that buying whole foods seems more expensive if you are just looking at price tags or researching recipes with a ton of ingredients, but it actually ends up being much more affordable because you can mix and match in the kitchen and a little creativity goes a long way. Start getting used to buying a few fresh whole foods and combining them to make different go-to meals and you’ll see that it’s actually more affordable to eat this way. Again, it is all about awareness. Don’t get overwhelmed, just try it for one week! You will see it isn’t as daunting as you imagined.
Do I have to be an experienced cook to eat healthy?
You do not need ANY cooking experience to eat healthy. However, If you are going to be eating mostly whole foods, then cooking at home will take a little more creativity than hitting “start” on the microwave. I always suggest that eventually, you be willing to chop veggies, boil grains and use the oven to cook. When you are using a variety of whole foods, they create a natural flavor, so simply mixing veggies, protein and grains makes for a delicious meal. Plus, grocery stores have so many healthy options to spice up your meals and make you feel like a gourmet chef. If you do this, just make sure you check labels for added ingredients, like sodium or sugar. I really like using Trader Joe’s vegan pesto to add to salmon and pasta. It is so easy!
Do I have to spend a ton of time in the kitchen to eat healthy?
You do not need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to eat healthy. I think it is a common misconception that using a lot of fancy ingredients means that you know how to cook. The beautiful thing about getting used to making meals with mostly whole foods and incorporating veggies is that there is a lot of natural flavor involved! Get used to chopping veggies here and there and you open up a world of so many easy recipes and food combinations that you can create in less than ten minutes.
How do I fight cravings? How often can I “cheat?”
The best way to fight cravings at home is to not have unhealthy food accessible. Do not buy the ice cream or the pizza when you are at the store. I also always suggest to my clients to have a substitute. I find that most people like to snack at night, so instead, I suggest having a cup of herbal tea. It doesn’t sound exciting, but it works! If it is a sweet craving, try having a sweet piece of fruit, like a date, or some almond butter.
There is no general rule for how often you can “cheat.” You need a cheat meal every once in a while! After all, food is pleasure, too, right? However, I would suggest once you have that cheat meal, don’t keep going downhill. Most people are familiar with the term “Cheat Day.” I don't agree with this mentality. No, you aren’t going to gain a bunch of weight from cheating for one day, but it will most likely send you into more consistent unhealthy eating habits. As long as you are aware of what you are eating and your diet consists of mostly whole foods, don’t beat yourself up for cheating every once in a while. Enjoy your cheat meal - and enjoy getting back on track too!
What is your favorite “healthy sweet” or healthy dessert?
Dark chocolate, but real dark chocolate. Find one that’s at least 70% cocoa and it will actually come with a lot of health benefits, too! I like to make dark chocolate almond butter truffles. They need only 4 ingredients and they are so simple to make!
What are some simple ways I can improve my diet today?
The best way to start making healthier choices is to make small changes such as “swap this for that.” For example, if you are at the grocery store and you usually buy processed lunch meat for your sandwiches every week, try subbing the processed lunch meat this week and grab a cooked rotisserie chicken for your sandwich instead. While you are at it, maybe you want to sub whole wheat bread for the white bread too, or maybe not - save it for next week when you are ready for the next challenge! Try adding more veggies to your meals until this becomes normal. For example, if you're making eggs for breakfast, try to make it into a scramble by adding some spinach or mushrooms. Keep in mind to avoid processed foods. Do you really need that bagel every morning? Let’s try to sub it out for eggs, or a cup of yogurt with fresh fruit, every once in a while. Making healthier choices is a process. As you start to do it more often and become aware of it, it will become part of your life.
What kind of results will I see from a healthy diet? How soon?
I find that most of my clients start to feel better physically within a week, but everybody is different. You can expect to feel more energized and you will feel less hungry. You will see the difference in your skin and hair. I had a client who couldn’t believe how fast her hair started growing from simply incorporating more fruits and vegetables. You should feel more mentally strong and in control of your physical and mental well-being.