Little Things: a Nutrition Series

Part 1: Making little changes in nutrition for long term habit making.

Welcome to my 4-part series in which I share what I’ve learned about nutrition. The 8-week program, Simply Nourished Like a Mother, offered by Train Like a Mother and Registered Dietician Ellie Kempton walks through the dietary Macros and how to incorporate each into your daily routine. I had worked with Ellie one-on-one before, and much of this program was a strong refresher course. Let me share with you what I’ve learned and relearned. 

We all know what food choices are the healthy ones. We learn that from a young age. However, we all struggle with our cravings. Some might wish a donut had the same dietary value as a side of green beans, or that a Deep Dish Pizza carries the same nutritional weight as a Cobb Salad. But alas…here we are. 

In the first two weeks of the SNLAM program, we discussed Veggies and how they can be considered their own Macro-nutrient. The high-concept was to feed your gut-biome. I imagine my stomach to be a sort of Chronopolis that exists in my belly — a little city full of happy fairies. It’s important to feed the population of bacteria to help aid in digestion, absorb nutrients, and level out hormonal imbalances. Meaning? Veggies are good for you. The Fairies want the veggies. That’s not news, but just saying.

Three big takeaways from the first two weeks about Veggies:

Change it up — I gravitate toward baby spinach and red bell peppers. I’ll reach for carrots and sugar snap peas. I even started taking Athletic Greens in the morning. This green drink took some getting used to, but it has made a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day. 

However, I learned that your gut fairies can “get used to” the same thing every day or every week, like hitting a training plateau. If all I ate was spinach and bell peppers, my belly would reach a “stasis point.” Mixing it up means that I would feed all the different good bacteria all the time. 

So I learned to mix up my grocery list regularly and rotate out my “usuals” for something different every week or so. 

Veggies all day long — One of the things I loved about learning from Ellie is the Serving Size parameters. You don’t need to weigh or measure. One serving of veggies (uncooked) is the size of your fist. Two of those fists for each meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s pretty much that simple. Spinach in a smoothie, peppers in an omelette, a Salad for lunch, roasted broccoli at dinner. Done and done. 

Eat Veggies first — This was a game-changing hack for me. If possible, eat your veggies first. Your body will absorb those nutrients first and fill up on the vitamin and mineral packed foods before moving on to other things. Doing this has helped me not wake up hungry in the middle of the night, and feel generally “cleaner” throughout the day. 

After 2 weeks, I’m already sleeping better, and feel like my body is balancing out. 

Have I been perfect so far? No, of course not. Am I doing the best I can? You bet! Having a basic plan for veggies makes a huge difference in how I plan family meals. 

The hardest part for me is to actually stop and eat lunch. Breakfast? Super easy. I start with Athletic Greens and coffee with Vital Proteins before my run, then either a smoothie or scrambled eggs with a veggie right after my workout. Dinner? Probably the most balanced meal for all of us most of the time. A roasted veggie, a protein like Chicken, and a carb like rice, potatoes, or noodles. 

But Lunch? Let me give you an example. I’m writing this at 1:24 in the afternoon, and I haven’t yet eaten. I know I should stop writing and go get some leftover Turkey Chili and carrots. But nope. I’m on a roll! *goes to heat up chili* 

Yeah, I just don’t think of it most days until about 3 in the afternoon. The big habit I’m trying to build is actually GO EAT LUNCH!

Two other hacks I’m taking away are that hydration helps the body absorb all the good stuff from the veggies, and that a Probiotic (my favorite is InnerEco) feeds the Fairies all the stuff they love!

So while, no…I am by no means perfect, we aren’t meant to be. Little changes take time. These are the little things I’ve learned about getting more Veggies!

Check out this video where we chat with Ellie!

Heather Jergensen

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