Food / Healthy Eating

I’m a Dietitian and Here’s Why I Think ‘Emotional Eating’ Is Fine Actually

I’m a Dietitian and Here’s Why I Think ‘Emotional Eating’ Is Fine Actually

To say that the term “emotional eating” has a bad rap is an understatement. Diet culture has long gone out of its way to convince us that food is the absolute last thing we should turn to in times of stress or sadness. How many times have you read that if you feel like eating a cookie after a bad day, taking a warm bath and doing some deep breathing is a “healthier” choice? Or that if you’re stressed and feeling snack-y, you should drink a few glasses of water instead? I know I’ve seen and heard that stuff more times than I can count.And sure, sometimes a candle-lit bubble bath is a nice way to decompress. But as a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders and takes a non-diet approach to nutrition counseling, I can confidently say that relying on food for comfort isn’t inherently bad or wrong. Sure, eating gives us energy and nourishment, but it also plays a huge role in our social and emotional lives.I’m not saying that food should be the only thing you turn to when you’re having a hard time, or that eating to numb out your feelings is a great way to go through life—because avoiding emotions, whether that’s through drugs, alcohol, overexercising, or, yes, food, isn’t ideal. What I am saying is that demonizing emotional eating in all forms isn’t good for you, either.Of course food is emotional!There are a lot of people—namely fitness influencers—out there trying to convince us all that food is nothing more than fuel. (Soylent, Silicon Valley’s favorite “drinkable meal,” wouldn’t exist otherwise.) But for most of us, that will never be the case—and that’s a good thing.Food doesn’t just give your body energy; it “can also taste and smell really good, and even the texture can be extremely satisfying, resulting in pleasure and enjoyment,” Ayana Habtemariam, MSW, RDN, a dietitian based in Washington, D.C., who helps clients heal their relationship with food, tells SELF. In other words, the satisfaction you feel when eating your favorite foods isn’t just physical, it’s mental and emotional, too—and the fact that something we do several times a day can bring us a burst of happiness is pretty fantastic if you ask me.We also tend to associate food with positive emotions like connection and comfort. So many social occasions, whether it’s a traditional family gathering or a quick ice cream date with friends, involve food. This might be partly out of convenience—we all have to eat, so why not do it with others?—but the association between food and human connection goes much deeper than that.“We know how important the feeding process is for infants, and that’s obviously not just because the infant needs nourishment,” Kim Daniels, PsyD, a psychologist and emotional eating coach based in West Hartford, Connecticut, tells SELF. “That’s a time for close contact, coddling, and connecting—all of that is happening while the baby is eating.” So of course, Dr. Daniels says, a sense of comfort gets tied to food in our heads.

20 Foods Rich in Vitamin C to Add to Your Grocery Cart

20 Foods Rich in Vitamin C to Add to Your Grocery Cart

Foods with vitamin C are easy to find if you know where to look. And that’s a good thing, considering how important the nutrient is for your health.You might already know that vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, supports a healthy immune system. But the health benefits of vitamin C go way beyond launching strong attacks against germs.”Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant,” Caroline Green, RD, LD, a South Carolina-based registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor, tells SELF. Antioxidants, as SELF reported previously, help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. When free radicals are left unchecked, they can damage cells through a process called oxidative stress, which can set the stage for conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or diabetes, among others, according to the National Institutes of Health. So higher consumption of antioxidants may lower the risk of these diseases.Your tissues and skin need the stuff too. Vitamin C, which is a water soluble vitamin, is a key player in the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and the skin-smoothing protein collagen. “In fact, it’s perhaps even more important in collagen formation than protein is,” Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of Recipe for Survival, tells SELF. (Though when you’re talking about vitamin C for skin, topical vitamin C serums can also give you a boost.)The body also relies on vitamin C to max out absorption of minerals like iron (particularly from plant-based sources), so it’s a good idea to pair the two on your plate when you can. Think lemon vinaigrette on your spinach salad or a side of strawberries with your black bean soup.So, how much vitamin C should you shoot for each day? Well, it varies. People assigned female at birth should get 75 mg of vitamin C per day, though the recommended dietary allowance jumps to 85 mg during pregnancy and 120 mg while breastfeeding, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Those assigned male at birth should get 90 mg. And while that might sound like a lot, the vast majority of us are getting to these dietary allowances with no problem. “It’s fairly rare to have a vitamin C deficiency,” Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a registered dietician nutritionist and certified diabetes care and education specialist based in Los Angeles, tells SELF. (Severe cases of vitamin D deficiency results in a condition called scurvy, which causes anemia, poor wound healing, bleeding gums, and bruising.)In other words? You probably don’t need to make much of an effort to get your vitamin C fill. But if you want to make sure your bases are covered (or are wondering whether trying to get more is better), here’s what you should know.How can I get vitamin C naturally?Most experts agree that healthy eating means meeting your nutrient needs from food sources as much as possible, and the same applies to vitamin C. “The easy answer is, get more fruits and veggies!” says Green. “Consuming plenty of colorful plant foods daily should keep you covered when it comes to vitamin C levels.”

30 High-Protein Snacks to Power You Through the Day

30 High-Protein Snacks to Power You Through the Day

Snack time is a sacred time—staving off those mid-afternoon stomach rumbles is crucial part of a good day. But fighting off the pangs with high-protein snacks? Well, that’s a genius move. By keeping protein-packed snacks at your desk (or at the ready in your home office), you can make snack time work for you, fueling you up quickly so you can get back to your day ASAP.Along with the many body functions that protein supports (like maintaining muscle mass and helping your immune system function, as SELF reports), eating enough protein helps ensure you aren’t hungry again 45 minutes after your snack. This is because the amino acids in protein take a while for your body to digest, Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, certified exercise physiologist and author of Body Kindness, tells SELF. Another benefit of protein-rich snacks: They can help you overcome “three-thirtyitis,” that pesky wave of lethargy that washes right over you in the late afternoon. This is why Scritchfield recommends eating sources of protein throughout your day—not just in your main meals, though that’s important too—so that your energy levels can remain consistent all day, and that sneaky three-thirtyitis becomes a thing of the past.To really get the most out of your high-protein snack, though, it’s best to have one that includes other major macronutrients as well. According to SELF columnist Jessica Jones, M.S., R.D., certified diabetes educator and Food Heaven cofounder, it helps to pair your high-protein snacks with a solid source of fat and/or carbs too—the most satisfying snacks usually have at least two different food groups. (Besides, factoring in more nutrients will only make your snack game more interesting.)Coming up with healthy high-protein snacks that can be kept in your desk drawer can be tough. (Look, we all love a Greek yogurt, but it is not exactly shelf-stable!) Luckily, we’ve done the hard work of thinking up ideas for you. Here are 30 desk-friendly, healthy, filling snacks that will satisfy any kind of snacker—no fridge required.All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

14 High-Protein Foods You Should Always Keep in Your Pantry

14 High-Protein Foods You Should Always Keep in Your Pantry

Getting enough protein to eat each day can be a challenge. One big reason? So many high-protein foods are, quite frankly, high maintenance. Meats, fish, eggs, cheeses, and dairy products—while all nutritional powerhouses and great sources of protein—also need to be refrigerated, and some of them also tend to go bad pretty quickly. (Fish? We’re talking to you.) But that doesn’t mean that the only high-protein foods out there are ones you keep in your fridge. People often overlook high-protein pantry staples, but they shouldn’t! There are so many great ones out there, which is excellent since protein is necessary for things like helping you maintain energy, supporting your muscles, helping your skin, nails, and hair, and more.To be considered a high-protein pantry staple, the food needs to be affordable, easy to store, and able to last for a long period of time. In this sense, pantry staples can be a lifeline, saving the day when you forgot to stock the fridge or just don’t feel like heading to the grocery store. So, SELF asked registered dietitians for their need-to-have, shelf-stable, high-protein ingredients. Grab a pen and start making your grocery list now. 1. Nuts and nut buttersMost nuts are a solid source of protein, but Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk, tells SELF she prefers to keep almonds on hand because of their versatility. “You can eat them alone, add to your oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, toss them into salads, or chop them up and add to a roasted veggie dish for some texture,” she explains. In addition to having 20 grams of protein in one cup, they’re also full of, “healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins such as calcium,” she says.Not a fan of almonds? Kate Geagan, M.S., R.D.N., also recommends walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts. Opt for nut butters if you’re looking for the same flavor, but a creamier texture. You can even make your own nut butter if that’s what you’re about.2. Cannellini beans”Having a can or two of beans in the pantry can be a lifesaver,” says Yeung. She explains that half a cup of these beans has eight grams of protein, and—similar to almonds—they have an extremely versatile flavor profile. She likes to add them to soups, pastas, and dips. “I’ll take some white beans and purée them with garlic, lemon juice, and fresh herbs and spices,” she says. Here’s some proof of the delicious wealth of white bean recipes out there.3. Pumpkin seedsNext time pumpkin-carving season rolls around, hold those scraps close! Or, you know, don’t—and just pick some up the next time you go to the store. Kris Sollid, R.D., the senior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council, tells SELF that the humble pumpkin seed does a whole lot of lifting in the protein game. “Pumpkin seeds are packed with minerals like zinc and magnesium, healthy unsaturated fats, and protein,” he says. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains about seven grams. 4. LentilsThis popular pulse may take a while to cook, but it’s so worth keeping in your kitchen. Jessica Levinson, R.D.N., explains that “they add a nice meaty, umami flavor to meals and can be used in vegetarian tacos and in place of meat in a bolognese sauce.” Oh, and just one cup has 18 grams of protein. If you’re saying an even bigger “yes, please!” to lentils after reading that, check out these lentil recipes packed with protein and flavor.5. PastaYup, that’s right! Pasta is an underrated source of protein. “All pasta contains protein, and some varieties are also enriched with additional plant-based protein. Pasta can be a good source of fiber and an excellent source of B vitamins (folate, niacin, and thiamin),” says Sollid. Protein-enriched varieties will pack the most punch, but both whole wheat pasta and traditional pasta can still have up to eight grams per serving. In case you need some inspiration, check out these easy pasta recipes using ingredients you probably already have.6. Garbanzo bean flourAlso known as chickpea flour, Geagan likes to use this baking alternative in sweet and savory dishes. It doesn’t have gluten, so it’s a great pick for people who have trouble stomaching that family of proteins. Geagan likes to use this flour when making pancakes, cookies, and falafel. 

9 Frozen Meal Delivery Services That Make Dinners Quick and Easy

9 Frozen Meal Delivery Services That Make Dinners Quick and Easy

While meal kits can make dinnertime easier, saving on trips to the grocery store and chopping ingredients, they still require time and effort. Enter frozen meal delivery, for when juggling work, childcare, and/or life in general puts too much on your plate, and makes even the most basic recipes seem too time-consuming and insurmountable. And the frozen meals you can get delivered aren’t the ones you may have in your mind’s eye when you think of this meal option. A new crop of companies is serving up delicious, often chef-designed dishes that reheat in minutes and solve the problem of what’s for dinner—quickly. There’s zero prep work and, most importantly, simple cleanup.Even better? Many of these new companies selling healthy frozen meals ship their entrées in recyclable packaging and have myriad options for most any dietary restrictions or tastes.From vegan to diabetic diet-friendly and more, read on for everything you need to know about the best frozen meal delivery services out there. Click ship and eat!All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.Daily HarvestWhy It’s Worth It: Daily Harvest started in 2014 as a weekly or monthly smoothie delivery service and has since expanded to sell soups, flatbreads, bowls, and other wholesome prepared foods that can feed you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything—from the sweet potato and wild rice hash harvest bowl to the artichoke and spinach flatbread and mint and cacao smoothie—centers on organic fruit and vegetables. Also, unsurprisingly given this list, everything is frozen, specifically with the aim of locking in as many antioxidants as possible while the produce is at peak freshness. If you’ve got multiple mouths to feed, new this year are Daily Harvest’s four Harvest Bakes, which are ready-to-bake dishes like a chickpea and coconut curry made with veggies, grains, spices, and sauces that you can pop in the oven and share in just 30 minutes. Everything on the Daily Harvest menu is vegan and gluten-free. Some items are also paleo or allergen-free too.

20 Healthy Costco Snacks You Should Stock Up On

20 Healthy Costco Snacks You Should Stock Up On

It’s easy to get derailed in big box stores like Costco, where it seems like they have both everything and nothing you need all at once. But Costco’s healthy snacks are not to be missed. And, luckily, they’re actually kind of hard to miss. Instead of making a beeline for the snack aisle, like you might in a regular supermarket, you’ll begin to spot Costco’s healthy snacks the moment you walk through the entrance. Look past the electronics and you’ll notice mountains of nuts, crackers, and dried fruits already beginning to appear. From there, it’s aisles upon aisles of nutritious and delicious treats just waiting to fill your cart and stomach. Though buying in bulk can sometimes feel like it costs more than it’s worth, there are so many pros to stocking up on a large scale, says Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., of Street Smart Nutrition. “Planning and preparation are key to building consistent habits, and part of that is setting up your environment to have access to what you need,” she explains. Basically, you probably won’t regret having a ton of cans of beans in your pantry, even if it feels excessive to buy that many in the moment. (And you’ll usually end up paying less in the long run despite the higher price upfront.)Yes, there are a lot of pros to shopping at Costco, but there are also a couple of important things to remember to ensure that you get the most out of your bulk-buying experience. For one, Harbstreet suggests sticking to dried and shelf-stable goods so that you don’t have to worry about anything spoiling before you’re able to eat it. And whenever you’re building your Costco shopping list, take stock of your personal situation. Ask yourself what you always have and what your needs are for that particular time of year to minimize food waste. Obviously, snacks are something worth having in bulk all year round, and these 20 picks from registered dietitians are worthy additions to your pantry no matter the season. From zesty olives to sweet dried mango, there’s something in this list for just about every craving. If you can’t make it to the store in person for whatever reason, know that many Costco must-haves—including the products here—can now be found on InstaCart or Costco online. If you’d rather shop in-store but don’t have a membership, see if a family member or friend will be kind enough to lend you theirs (and maybe accompany you on the trip). However you choose to bulk up your pantry, these are some of the best healthy snacks at Costco according to R.D.s. A note about the word healthy here: We know that healthy is a complicated concept. Not only can it mean different things to different people, but it’s a word that’s pretty loaded (and sometimes fraught), thanks to the diet industry’s influence on the way we think about food. At SELF, when we talk about food being healthy, sure, we’re talking about foods that are nutritious, filling, and satisfying. But we’re also talking about foods that help you connect with your culture, promote joy, and simply taste delicious. Some of those foods might fall into conventional ideas of what “healthy” is. And some might not. We selected these recipes with all of that in mind while also trying to appeal to a wide variety of nutritional needs and taste buds.

Introducing SELF Magazine's Healthy Eating Trailblazers

Introducing SELF Magazine's Healthy Eating Trailblazers

Back in January, SELF made a commitment to spend the year redefining four core elements of wellness through both a personal and public health lens, starting with food. Our goal was to upend our society’s historically restrictive view of what “healthy eating” really means. Green smoothies are great and all, but no one type of food should monopolize the meaning of healthy eating. But here we are, with so many of us buying into the idea—even unwittingly—that healthy eating essentially comes down to produce and protein. “It’s well past time to redefine healthy eating. Because healthy eating isn’t just about nutrients and superfoods and trendy diets; it’s also, crucially, about food access and sustenance; about fuel and nourishment; and about community and culture. And the way we talk about healthy eating should encompass all of that,” our then-editor in chief Carolyn Kylstra wrote at the time. So, to figure out what healthy eating really means, we decided to explore the topic through three essential pillars. The first pillar, physical health, encompasses vitamins, nutrients, that kind of stuff—not surprising when it comes to healthy eating as a concept, right? But then there’s the second pillar, emotional health, which is all about how the way we eat influences the way we feel and vice versa. Our final pillar, community health, is about how food—our access to it, our production of it, our consumption of it—shapes our health as a collective and as a planet. None of these pillars is more or less important than the others. Instead, each one is a vital piece of the overarching healthy eating puzzle.Since January, we’ve published articles investigating potential solutions to food insecurity and advice on how to combat the food guilt so many of us grapple with daily. We’ve asked registered dietitians to describe their favorite meals from their cultures and reiterated why carbohydrates are, in fact, not the enemy. There’s so much more—you can check out all of our recent coverage on these three pillars right here. And to drive home that healthy eating really is an individual thing, we published 10 Grocery Diaries, each one offering a snapshot of how different people shop for food with their physical and emotional health (and that of their loved ones) in mind.Now, as SELF’s interim editor in chief, I’m thrilled to share our March digital cover: Eat Well. In it, we celebrate 16 people whose work embodies our multifaceted definition of healthy eating. You’ll meet registered dietitians championing the simple joy of eating and a farmer growing crops as an act of food sovereignty. You’ll meet a certain tenacious host of Taste the Nation and Top Chef and an innovator creating animal products from cell cultures. Independent food and culture journalist Esther Tseng interviewed these trailblazers, drawing out the gems of healthy eating insight they had to share. Then SELF’s health editor Carolyn Todd and associate food and fitness director Christa Sgobba diligently combed through Tseng’s reporting and their own research to paint a vivid picture of each person we’re honoring. Finally, creative director Amber Venerable commissioned beautiful illustrations from artists Diana Ejaita, Jordan Moss, Abbey Lossing, and Asia Pietrzyk, working with associate art director Morgan Johnson to turn the designs into digital covers. Call it the cherry on top. Head over to our March digital cover story to see SELF’s list of people revolutionizing our cultural notion of what healthy eating really is. And eat well, friends.

Meet 16 People Who Are Redefining Healthy Eating for the Better

Meet 16 People Who Are Redefining Healthy Eating for the Better

A lot of what you see scrolling through Wellness Instagram is out of touch at best, misleading at worst—informed by diet culture over science; privilege over reality; exclusivity over inclusivity. “They promote this idea of wellness that is unattainable for most people,” Wendy Lopez, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., tells SELF, whether because of your body size, race, cultural background, socioeconomic status, or age.Food Heaven Made Easy is an antidote to mainstream wellness—an approachable, common-sense voice in a cacophony of strict diets, quick fixes, and inaccessible advice. “We work hard to break that all down and redefine what health looks like for people,” Lopez explains. She and her cofounder, Jessica Jones M.S., R.D., started the site (and their Food Heaven podcast) to expand our culture’s understanding of healthy eating and to widen the path to wellness. (Lopez and Jones are SELF columnists as well.)“Our main message is that health and health recommendations should be accessible to everyone,” Lopez says. Healthy eating (and health in general) are not about youth, beauty, or thinness, Jones explains: “It’s about what makes you feel good.” That means physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their work is largely informed by two frameworks they have helped popularize over the last couple years: Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive Eating (IE), topics they cover often on their podcast. Both HAES and IE reject the premise of diet culture and the pursuit of weight loss that drive so much of the harmful health and dieting messaging we see today, and instead promote a more caring and individualized relationship to our bodies and food.The Food Heaven approach is also very practical, grounded in both the science of nutrition and realities of people’s everyday lives—think helpful meal prep tips and veggie-forward recipes rather than recommendations to buy a specific supplement. While a lot of their work is about what you eat, of course, it’s also about everything else that affects what you eat, Jones explains: physical health, sleep, mental health, culture, food access, relationships, socioeconomic status, and social injustices. As Lopez puts it, individual health is “way more complex than, you know, ‘eat more vegetables.’”SELF: How did you come to do what you do?Lopez: About 10 years ago, we were working at farmers markets in the Bronx, providing nutrition education to the community. We were really inspired—and also just tired of the narrative that people of color or poor people weren’t interested in eating healthy. Because we saw firsthand that when we provided education and actual access to these foods, people were really excited to cook with them. This includes both foods that were culturally relevant to them and also foods like kale that maybe they weren’t as familiar with.So we decided to create, initially, videos for the local TV channels so that local residents would be able to get nutrition education and cooking tips. Our friends suggested that we put it online so that we could reach more people. Then we got on YouTube, and it grew from there.Jones: Then I decided to move back to California, and obviously, we couldn’t do videos anymore because we didn’t live in the same place. We were like, why don’t we just do a podcast?SELF: What do you think is the most pressing problem related to your area?Lopez: The big picture problem is that people don’t feel identified in wellness, because most people don’t fit into the skinny white girl image. Larger white people, people of color, and poor people don’t feel identified in that—and I feel like that’s most of the country. That impacts how you see food and health. Because if you don’t see yourself identified in it, it’s like you’re either constantly trying to reach an unattainable goal, or you’re just like, I don’t want anything to do with it.

23 Little Ways to Eat Healthier, According to R.D.s

23 Little Ways to Eat Healthier, According to R.D.s

Try scheduling a Zoom meal with friends or family while you reminisce on the good times. Recreate your favorite childhood meals to bring back fond memories and a pleasurable eating experience. Or for variety and comforting nostalgia, incorporate recipes and ingredients from your culture into your meals.” —Ayana Habtemariam, M.S.W., R.D.N., L.D.N., nutrition therapist and certified intuitive eating counselor
6. Describe your food in ways besides “healthy” and “unhealthy.”
“Get creative with how you describe or think about your food. Typically, we’re used to thinking about food in organized categories like healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. But these labels can promote either an all-or-nothing pattern (where you think you shouldn’t have certain foods if they aren’t considered healthy or good) or a cycle of guilt and shame if you enjoy foods you consider less nourishing.

Instead, I encourage you to get as creative as you can with how you describe your food. Make a list of as many descriptive words (spicy, savory, crunchy, melty, etc.) as you can. This can point you toward your true food preferences versus the food rules you absorbed from diet culture.” —Cara Harbstreet, M.S. R.D. L.D.
7. Speed up your cooking.
“Maximizing your time in the kitchen is so important, especially as we all are navigating uncharted waters. Using basic items like triple-washed and bagged greens or pre-chopped veggies cuts prep time in half. And brands like Brooklyn Delhi or Saffron Road have incredibly flavorful simmer sauces that bring life to any dish in under five minutes. A close friend just brought me some of the Brooklyn Dehli achar sauces, and I am a new convert—and the ingredient list is amazing.” —Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition, Good Morning America nutrition expert, and author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life
8. Try mindful eating, even if just for a single bite.
“Practicing mindful eating can help us reclaim some of the joy of eating, and allows us to discover our actual food preferences. Mindful eating is turning attention to the senses—the sight, smell, feel, and taste of a food. To eat mindfully means we take the time to really experience the foods we eat.

I always recommend people start small, with just one mindful bite! So…to start, take a few deep breaths as you prepare to really taste your food. Take a moment to notice the color, the smell, the texture, and just take one bite. Take your time letting it sit on your tongue, chewing slowly, allowing your taste buds to take it all in. That’s all you need to do. You might notice that the food tastes different when you actually allow yourself to taste it.” —Erica Leon, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., nutrition therapist and certified eating disorder registered dietitian
9. Add more fiber to your diet.
“Fiber is integral to gut health. Not only is fiber responsible for keeping you regular, but it’s also integral to helping your body colonize its good gut bacteria. Adding fiber-rich foods to your daily routine can be quite simple. Try an ancient grain like bulgur (which has almost 30% of the D.V. for fiber) or barley.” —Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
10. Don’t worry so much about “eating the rainbow.”
“We often feel like we need to make our plates super colorful by adding veggies, but so many veggies aren’t necessarily colorful. I think it’s time to rethink that. Even if your plate is super monotone, don’t worry—add the veggie that goes with the dish and will complement it. For example, I grew up eating Dominican meals, where we have a lot of root veggies such as yuca, yautia, and malanga. Not colorful at all, but loaded with nutrition. If you can, try new and different veggies, regardless of color.” —Dalina Soto M.A., R.D., L.D.N., bilingual dietitian and founder of Nutritiously Yours and Your Latina Nutrition
11. Go for more regular ol’ veggies over trendy “superfoods.”
“If you just do one thing, add more vegetables. Just regular vegetables. The majority of Americans don’t meet the recommended daily intake for vegetables. And while it’s fun to explore superfood powders and special drinks for better health, simply adding an extra cup of an everyday vegetable like roasted broccoli to dinner can help move the needle in a positive direction.” —Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D., culinary and integrative dietitian
12. Skip the “healthy version” and eat the food you’re actually craving.
“There is no need to compromise your taste buds with ‘alternative’ foods because we are told these are healthier—chickpea cookie dough, cauliflower anything, black bean brownies. When we are told we can’t have the real thing or feel that we have to ‘healthify’ everything, we then tend to think about those eliminated foods solely and think that we’re obsessed with or addicted to food. Instead, give yourself permission to eat the foods you like, including the foods you crave.” —Shana Minei Spence, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N.
13. Seek out phytonutrients. (Ya know, plants!)
“Phytonutrients are chemical compounds produced by plants, and are known to be beneficial to humans because they include antioxidants, which help protect the body from free radical damage. Fruits like blueberries are an excellent source of phytonutrients—blueberries contain anthocyanins and flavanols, which have been heavily researched for their cardioprotective capabilities. They can be enjoyed fresh or frozen and added to both sweet and savory meals. Or spice up your meals with garlic and onions. When stored properly, they have a long shelf life.” —Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
14. Eat when you’re hungry.
“Your body is not on a timer. Eat when you are hungry. I’ve heard of some people being hungry mid-morning, but thinking that they shouldn’t eat because it’s not officially lunchtime. If you are hungry at 11 a.m., know that it’s okay to eat. Our bodies and their needs change daily (due to hormones, movement, activity, etc.). So just because you ate at 1 p.m. yesterday does not mean there is anything wrong with you if you need food earlier today. We are not robots or machines that go off of an autopilot, we are indeed human.” —Shana Minei Spence, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N.
15. Batch prep grains and veggies, then mix and match them throughout the week.
“This is a practical tip that makes it easy to build meals throughout the week without repeating the same recipe five times. Cook rice or quinoa and roast vegetables in bulk so you can easily add your favorite protein for a quick lunch or dinner bowl during the week. Mix and match to keep it interesting—toss the roasted vegetables onto pizza one night and serve alongside salmon the next. I also like to boil a batch of eggs at the beginning of the week to use for snacks and breakfast throughout the week.” —Marisa Moore, M.B.A. R.D.N. L.D.
16. Create some new food traditions for yourself.
“Food is strongly tied to memories and experiences, but when our eating habits have been strongly driven by diets or dieting, we tend to lose those traditions. Think back to some of your positive memories with food and see if you can either recreate them or replicate them in new traditions. This might be as simple as selecting a new recipe once a week to developing an entirely new way of celebrating major holidays. This can be an empowering and fulfilling way to celebrate food beyond its nutrition capacity and create a new food culture that doesn’t involve dieting or restriction.” —Cara Harbstreet, M.S. R.D. L.D.
17. Add fresh herbs to basically everything.
“The oils naturally present in fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and oregano add lots of flavor. Two tablespoons of fresh basil deliver about 25% of the Vitamin K you need in a day. And fresh parsley is not just a garnish—it’s a great source of vitamins A and C and an excellent source of Vitamin K. (Over 75% of the D.V. in one tablespoon!) Add fresh herbs generously to salads, make herbed vinaigrette to drizzle on fish, or add them to water.” —Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D.
18. Keep ingredients for go-to pantry meals in stock.
“Keep ingredients on hand for a couple of tasty and nutritious pantry meals. That way, on days you don’t have a chance to go to the grocery store or don’t feel like cooking anything complicated, you’ve still got options. My favorite is pasta tossed with canned chickpeas and frozen spinach sautéed with lots of onion, garlic, and chili flakes.” —Rachael Hartley, R.D.
19. Delete or mute your food tracking apps.
“This is one of the simplest yet most challenging tips. We can grow reliant on apps to guide eating decisions, but that creates a false sense of safety. That’s why it can feel so precarious to consider deleting them. This is one of the most important steps to reconnecting with hunger and fullness and learning to trust your body.” —Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D.
20. Eat whichever meals whenever you darn well please.
“Lose the labels. Ever notice how easily we categorize food into ‘breakfast/lunch/dinner’? This line of thinking can hold you back. A part of you is saying an ‘I can’t…’ story, like ‘I can’t eat this for breakfast.’ Some of my favorite breakfasts look more like lunch—a piece of hearty toast with mayo, tomato, basil, salt and pepper, for example. Likewise, cheesy eggs wrapped in a tortilla with any veggie I have on hand is a fast dinner go-to for me. Then I’ll add in sides of fruit or my favorite bowl of cereal or dessert, depending on my cravings.” —Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D.N., author of Body Kindness
21. Roast frozen veggies for an easy, delicious side.
“I love frozen veggies. They can be super affordable and last a while in the freezer. My fave thing to do is to load up on frozen brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, peas, and carrots, and just throw them into dishes to add flavor and texture. The air fryer is my favorite kitchen gadget, so I roast a lot of these veggies in there tossed in olive oil, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese. Or you can roast them in the oven until golden brown. Such a crowd-pleaser and super quick to make. ” —Dalina Soto M.A., R.D., L.D.N.
22. Meal prep regularly, but try not to stress about it.
“Have a reliable meal prep routine to avoid overthinking, which can lead to a downward spiral of unhelpful stress and anxiety around eating. And be flexible in what you consider a ‘good enough’ meal prep effort, given your time and money resources. For example, I try to set a 30-minute timer on Friday nights and have a notepad at the ready. I open up my refrigerator and freezer, toss the moldy stuff to compost, quickly prep any fresh vegetable that may be on its last leg (usually by sautéeing, roasting, or making a quick base for chili or soup), and chop up any fruit to freeze and use later with baked oatmeal or smoothies.

14 Pre-Workout Breakfast Ideas to Help You Fuel Up Fast

14 Pre-Workout Breakfast Ideas to Help You Fuel Up Fast

For some inspiration, we’ve gathered a few pre-workout breakfast ideas and arranged them, roughly, from lighter to heavier—so you can find something that works whether you’re waking up at 5 a.m. with zero appetite and just 30 minutes before your workout, or at 7 a.m. with an appetite and two hours to spare. Something to keep in mind here: A lot of these ideas (especially early on the list) are not enough to be considered complete breakfasts on their own. You’ll need to eat a post-workout snack or second breakfast containing protein and carbs to restore your energy, help your body repair and recover, and tide you over until lunch. (And, if you’re exercising  pretty long and hard, you might need to supplement during your workout too.)
Early morning pre-workout breakfast ideas
1. A few swigs of 100 percent fruit juice
While we are aware that juice by itself is not a breakfast, Clark says that this quick source of sugar can be a great choice for those who struggle with eating early but still want a little boost. Even just a small amount of carbohydrates can be enough fuel to offset the groggy fatigue you might feel right after rolling out of bed, Clark explains. 
2. A glass of chocolate milk
The same qualities that make this drink a great post-workout snack also make it an excellent pre-workout breakfast. Rich in carbs and protein to power you through your session, chocolate milk is an especially good pick if you’re craving sustenance but are not wild about solid food early in the morning. (Try lactose-free or soy chocolate milk if you have lactose intolerance.) 
3. A handful of cereal or granola
If a big bowl of cereal sounds like a lot, you can also just grab a handful of your favorite flakes, muesli, or granola. Clark says a small portion of ingredients like oats, corn or wheat flakes, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds can give you just enough carbs, fiber, and protein to sustain you. 
4. A banana
This idea in particular is great for anyone who wakes up slightly nauseous, as bananas are especially easy on the stomach. Pairing with a spoonful of peanut butter (or another nut or seed butter, like almond or sunflower) will provide just a tiny bit of protein and fat to keep you going.
5. A slice of toast with jam
Clark says this is a good pre-workout breakfast because it’s easy to digest and even easier to make.  If you like, you can beef up your toast by using a whole grain variety (if you haven’t noticed any stomach issues with fiber pre-workout in the past), or satiate a bigger appetite by topping with a bit of nut butter. (Gluten-free toast works as well.)
6. A fruit smoothie
Smoothies are ideal before a workout because they’re packed with nutrients but go down fast and easy. And you can make your smoothie more or less filling depending on the ingredients you use. For instance, you could use only fruit and milk for a lighter smoothie—or, for something heartier, add yogurt, nut butter, or protein powder. 
7. A cup of yogurt
Yummy yogurt is yet another easily digestible way to give your body carbs and protein pre-workout, no chewing required. If you prefer to buy unsweetened, you can add some honey or jam for some additional quick energy in the form of sugar. (A handful of granola or sliced banana would be tasty too.) And while full-fat is always delicious, it could be a little much for your stomach, so give reduced fat or fat-free a go. 
8. A breakfast cookie or two
While you probably won’t have time to whip up a batch of cookies first thing in the morning, you can prep these the night or weekend before. Breakfast cookies are often filled with a lot of the same good stuff in granola, like oats and other grains, fruit, honey, and nuts. Make them in bulk and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to have on hand at all times. 
9. A granola or protein bar
Compact, easy to eat, packed with nutrients, and portable, bars are pretty awesome. (O’Donnell-Giles always keeps multiple bars in her gym bag for all her pre-workout needs, while Clark is a fan of Kind Healthy Grains Bars.) Bars rich in protein are an especially great pick before weight-training workouts (although you’ll want to skip eating bars super high in protein right before, say, a run, if they make you feel icky). And whether you buy them or make them yourself, there are endless flavor and texture options. (Just be sure to avoid varieties packed with added fiber, which might upset your stomach mid-workout.) 
10. Oatmeal made with milk
This classic combo is packed with complex carbs and protein, says Clark. Whether you prefer instant packets, stove-top, or overnight oats, you can go plain or quickly customize with some brown sugar, raisin, nuts, or berries. If you are dairy-free, use soy or pea milk (instead of, say, almond) to get a little extra protein. 
11. A mini bagel with a schmear of cream cheese
Mini bagels are the secret to satisfying your early morning bagel cravings without overwhelming your stomach before your workout. If your stomach is okay with it, add a little cream cheese for a small amount of fat and protein. (Feel free to use a tofu-based dairy-free alternative.) 
12. A hard-boiled egg and grapes
Jones says hard-boiled eggs are a nice way to get an easy-on-the-belly protein hit before a workout—not to mention, they’re convenient and mild enough for the early hours. Add a side of sugary fruit, like grapes, a nectarine, or a banana, for some fast-acting energy if you are more on the hungry side. 
13. A couple of deli slice roll-ups
Slices of lean meat, like turkey for instance, are another way to get some easily digestible protein in before a sweat session, Jones says. Roll them up in a mini-tortilla or wrap for a convenient and carb-y vehicle for your protein. If you’ve got the appetite and time to digest, you could also add a slice of cheese. 
14. A mini egg frittata and toast
Small premade frittatas (or egg muffins) baked in a muffin tin are another great way to get your morning eggs without having to cook them between waking up and exercising. Often made with a little cheese, meat, and/or veggies, they’re good for a heartier pre-workout fuel up. Make a batch of them during weekend meal prep, and grab one or two from the fridge on weekday mornings to eat chilled or briefly microwaved. 

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