Healthy Eating with Limited Resources

which fad diet is best?

It’s no secret that nutrition is a hot topic these days. So many fad diets are buzzing around the internet – keto, paleo, vegan, South Beach, Atkins, Zone, intermittent fasting – all with tribes of committed followers who will swear that their diet is the best. There is an absolutely mind-boggling amount of information available, making it almost impossible to figure out what’s true and what’s not. It seems you can find a study to validate pretty much any notion that anyone has about nutrition! To say that nutrition information is confusing would be an understatement. Differences aside, I think one thing that we can all agree on is that moving from a highly processed diet to one that is more plant and whole food based is sure to benefit everyone. 


If you’re like many people, you’re feeling lost and confused about how to improve your diet – ready to make a change, but not sure where to start. You’re certainly not alone, and if you’re ready to take the plunge, the first step is to formulate a roadmap that will guide you to finding a healthy way of eating that you enjoy and can follow for life. The goal of this article isn’t to provide tricks, short cuts, or “diets” (because we all know that in the long run, they tend to come back and bite you in the rear!), but instead serve as a beginning guideline that will hopefully inform you, inspire you, and send you on your way to making positive and sustainable lifestyle changes in your eating habits.

the daily checklist

Who doesn’t love a good checklist?! These whole foods are a few of the building blocks of a solid diet, and this checklist provides a great way to start incorporating more of them into your daily diet. You’ll start to recognize where you can make swaps and substitutions along the way, like picking a side salad instead of fries, or tossing some berries into your morning meal instead of topping it with sugar. If you’re starting from zero, this can seem a little intimidating to fit all of these foods into a single day. Start with 1 serving of a couple items per day for a week and then work your way up to a serving of each item per day. I find that my clients LOVE the daily checklist: it’s simple, it’s easy to follow, and I’ll be darned if it doesn’t feel good to check off those boxes every day. 

  • Leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, spring mix, arugula, etc.) 
  • Veggie (carrots, celery, bell pepper, asparagus, broccoli, etc.) 
  • Good healthy fats (nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado, olives, olive oil, coconut oil) 
  • Berries for antioxidants (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, etc.) 
  • Fruit (apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach, plum, etc.) 
  • Whole grains (whole wheat, rice, quinoa, oats, farro, etc.) 
  • Lean meats (chicken breasts, lean ground turkey, lean beef, fish) 
  • Beans/legumes (this includes things like hummus!)

healthy eating with limited resources

If you have limited resources or may be stuck at home, there are some key items that you can keep on hand that will help you continue to eat healthy and flavorful meals without breaking the bank. During cold and flu season and times of stress, maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways you can help keep your immune system stay strong.

PANTRY ITEMS 

Variety of cookable grains – rice, quinoa, farro, freekeh, oats, millet, barley, bulgur, buckwheat 

Variety of pasta – wheat, rice, chickpea or bean pasta, quinoa/brown rice 

Potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash – versatile and long shelf life 

Canned beans – black, pinto, garbanzo, black-eyed peas, kidney, lentils, etc 

Canned vegetables and/or soups – if fresh isn’t an option, try cannedCanned tomatoes and tomato sauceBroth 

Pickled vegetables – great for digestion and long shelf life


FROZEN 

Frozen fruit – last much longer than fresh with all the nutrient density 

Frozen vegetables – similarly to canned, if fresh isn’t an option, go with frozen 

Frozen meat – divide up into single-serve portions and use as a simple add to any meal 

Meal prep – make a big batch of food, divide into leftovers, and freeze for a quick go-to meal 


SPICES 

Spices are a great way to add flavor to your food and have many health benefits - Tumeric, paprika, cumin, chile, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, garam masala, oregano, lemon pepper, etc 

Or try seasoning blends – taco, creole, cajun, curry, Italian herbs, Chinese 5 spice, Greek herbs, Moroccan, Jerk spice, BBQ rub, harissa, Ras El Hanout, za’atar, Gochujang, etc 

swap it!

Choosing healthier foods may be easier than you think! By changing just a few eating habits, you can make a big difference to your diet. The goal with swapping is to eat fewer foods that may be high in calories, fat, salt and sugars and exchange them for more nutritious and nutrient-dense foods, including more fruit and vegetables. Remember, small changes can add up to make a big overall difference in your diet. Here are some simple ideas that you may find easy to employ in your daily eating habits:

  • Swap whole milk for 1% fat, skim, or a plant-based milk product 
  • Swap sugar-coated breakfast cereal for oatmeal or a wholegrain breakfast cereal like shredded wholegrain wheat cereal (with no added sugar) 
  • Swap a sprinkle of sugar on your breakfast cereal for a topping of fresh or dried fruit 
  • Swap white breads and pasta for wholegrain varieties 
  • Swap butter and cheese for nutritious dips like hummus, salsa, or nut butter 
  • Swap cooking with vegetable or canola oil for cooking with broth or olive oil cooking spray 
  • Swap fatty or processed meats for lean cuts, including chicken breasts, lean turkey, lean beef, and fish 
  • Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato or vegetable-based sauces on your dishes 

examples of quick nutritious meals

Stir Fry – sauté frozen vegetables, cook rice as directed, soy or stir fry sauce, garnish with cilantro, green onion, and/or sesame seeds*option: add meat or tofu 

Burrito Bowl – rice or quinoa, black beans, grilled veggies, topped with your favorite salsa*option: add meat, tofu, or avocado 

Mini Pizzas – a slice of your favorite bread (suggestion: Whole Grain French bread), can of tomato sauce seasoned with Italian spices, add your favorite toppings and toast in an oven or toaster over 

Sweet Potato tacos - sauté a diced sweet potato, black beans, kale, and diced onions in pan until soft and season with taco seasoning or taco sauce, top a fresh squeezed lime; serve in warm corn tortillas*option: meat i.e. ground turkey 

Fruit smoothies – any of your favorite frozen fruit, plant-based milk, water or juice and blend. *options: add-ins such as nuts, nut butter, chia, flaxseed, hemp seeds, protein powder, or spinach/kale to make it a “green” smoothie

Green Smoothie Recipe 

• 1 cup spinach 

• ½ cup frozen broccoli 

• ½ cup cucumber 

• 1 c fruit of choice 

• Almond milk

• Protein Powder (optional)