The New Year is underway, and with it comes a bevy of guilt-infused resolutions that typically last only a short time. Instead of thinking of unlivable ideals, aim to keep your dietary aspirations real. Why not introduce sustainable lifestyle changes that get easier over time and eventually become preferable to the bad eating habits of yore? I talked to Boulder-based Zeal restaurant’s “chief enthusiast” Wayde Jester to pick his brain—and stomach—for painless-to-adopt eating guidelines. Here’s what he came up with:
- Cook for yourself
“Don’t rely on packaged and prepared foods as your go-to,” says Jester. “You run the risk of not having wholesome ingredients, or ingredients that are too rich.” Studies have found that eating out leads to at least a 50 percent increase in calories consumed, sodium and total fat intake.
- Pursue nutrient-dense foods
Jester explains that nutrient dense foods deliver micronutrients and phytonutrients in large quantities—but with few calories by weight. His top picks for these kinds of foods are fruits, leafy greens, squashes, legumes, nuts and seeds and lean protein. These foods provide a lot of bang for your nutritional buck. Minimally processed, they offer a variety of important minerals and vitamins per serving.
- Curb your appetite
it may sound counter-intuitive, but the best way of fending off a snack attack is with some strategic fats. Jester suggests coconut oil, grass fed butter and olive oil as some of the best fats to satiate a nascent bender. Zeal is the only restaurants to offer “kickstarter coffee”—a blend of black coffee, coconut oil, and grass-fed cows’ butter. Sounds strange, but it actually tastes delicious.
The idea of buttered coffee is based on endurance athlete dietary principles that tap into one’s fat stores as a source of fuel for the body. Starting your day with a sugarless coffee containing a fat boost, the argument goes, enhances the body’s ability to oxidize fat, orders you body to use that fat as an energy source burning it more efficiently as a fuel, without any blood sugar spikes and cliffs. not only is it a delicious drink, says jester, but it also lets you utilize a much deeper energy resource that the typical syrup-infused morning latte.
Anytime you add fat to a meal or a smoothie you can prolong your satiety levels. Adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to a smoothie, or some almond butter, or even half of an avocado, will prolong a food’s ability to offer sustained energy.
- Sprout a seed, add some ferment
A big part of zeal’s ethos is the inclusion live foods and healthy bacteria naturally sourced from fermented foods. Supporting the belly’s natural flora, says jester, is the key to good digestion and ultimately overall health. Sprout some lentils or sunflower seeds as a snack to have on hand. Tried and true sources of microbial sustenance are kimchi, sauerkraut, and other lactic acid fermented vegetables, kombucha, and unpasteurized yogurt. One recent study suggests that probiotics may be beneficial for brain function. Researchers at UCLA found that healthy women who regularly consumed probiotic-containing yogurt had better brain function than those who didn’t.
- Indulge selectively
Jester is a proponent of the 80/20 philosophy when it comes to diet. According to the rule, if you choose healthy foods 80 percent of the time, the other 20 percent of the time you can indulge in your favorite treats. It removes the temptation to binge, says Jester, and makes sure food is something that represents pleasure, not just health. Not that that the two are mutually exclusive. At Zeal, desserts on offer are a vegan cheesecake, coconut-based ice cream, chia pudding and raw chocolate fudge. Get savvy about what you indulge in, and how often, and a sweet a day may be just the thing to keep the diet gremlins away.