Unfortunately, life isn’t just doughnuts and cookies. Over these past few weeks, we’ve started to explore the concept of macronutrients (or macros) and eating with a flexible approach in my previous posts here and here. Flexible eating allows you to include some of your favorite indulgent foods to make you feel less deprived, but that doesn’t mean you get to eat like a jerk all the time.
What do I mean when I say ‘eat like a jerk?’ This:
While I may not hate the idea of finding myself in a bath tub, covered in doughnuts, with a belly full of sugar and regretting nothing, I know I’d also feel the repercussions of eating like a jerk. If you’re finding that MOST of the food you eat throughout the day comes out of packages, or is heavily-laden with unhealthy fats and/or carbs, then you may be eating like a jerk.
Don’t eat like a jerk.
Just because a dozen doughnuts may ‘fit’ your assigned macros for the day, doesn’t mean that you should be eating a dozen doughnuts every day. The argument for not eating a dozen doughnuts every day is because doing so increases the chance that your diet would lack the proper amount of micronutrients to support your overall health and wellness.
In the nutrition realm, micronutrients (or ‘micros’) include vitamins and minerals. Your body may only require micronutrients in small quantities (hence the term “micro”), but don’t let that fool you — they may be small, but they make a huge impact on your body’s functions.
There are over two dozen key vitamins and minerals needed by the human body, most of which are critical to support countless functions within your body, especially metabolically and physiologically. When one or more micronutrients are in limited supply, symptoms of deficiency may emerge. These symptoms can include anything from tingling extremities, acne, muscle spasms, and fatigue, to depression and irritability.
Don’t eat like a jerk.
In an ideal world with flexible eating, you will not only meet your daily macros, but you will meet your daily micros as well — meaning that you should make every effort to have your primary food sources consist of nutritious and wholesome foods that are naturally filled with vitamins and minerals. These foods are commonly considered “whole foods” because they are exactly how they are found in nature, or minimally processed by modern food technology.
HOW TO EAT MORE MICROS
In simple terms, try to eat more minimally-processed whole foods. These foods include things such as:
Lean proteins such as meats, seafood, eggs, and plant-based proteins
Starches, beans, and legumes that are high in fiber (think sweet potatoes, potatoes, black beans, etc.)
Healthy fats that are found in nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocado
The more colorful the fruits and vegetables, the better, so try to eat the entire rainbow throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables also tend to be high in fiber and therefore make you feel full longer, and they are often insanely low-calorie. This means you can eat an even greater amount of vegetables — for example, you can easily eat a huge serving (think mixing bowl-sized!) of mixed greens, and it will be no more than 10 calories for the entire serving (minus the dressing, of course). But, that huge low-calorie salad will keep you feeling fuller, longer. Winning!
Do you eat well and still find your diet may be deficient in vitamins and minerals? Then you may want to explore taking a multivitamin with your doctor. But, be sure to do your research and try to pick one that is high-quality and doesn’t interact with any medications (again, talk to your doctor!). There are several online resources that provide reviews, so definitely look into them, like this one from Barbend.
A general rule to follow when designing your daily meals is to follow a 90/10 or 85/15 ratio. This means that 90% or 85% of your calories (or macros) for the day consist of nutrient-dense foods — foods rich in micronutrients such as the whole foods outlined above. Then, the other 10-15% of your calories (or macros) can consist of foods that you enjoy eating — foods that you may consider more indulgent. You could even get to a 95/5 ratio if you have a love affair with vegetables and don’t really care too much for sweets.
The ratio options are limitless (75/25, anyone?) because it all depends on how your body responds to what you eat, so listen to your body and see how it responds to eating the small serving of ice cream or chocolate every night, and go from there.
Ultimately, make every effort to fill most of your meals with as many minimally-processed whole foods as you are able to eat. If you do this, along with trying not to eat a dozen doughnuts every day, you should be alright in the micronutrient department.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
Interested in learning more about flexible eating and how to make sure you’re eating enough micronutrients? Comment below or email me, and I’d be more than happy to help you make sense of it all.
If you’re interested in having your macronutrients personally calculated for you to meet your goals, or having a customized nutrition plan built just for you and paired with attentive coaching, then check-out my Services page first to see what I offer. Message me and we can arrange a time to chat for a free consultation.