The best diet for Chicago parents? The one that works

Every new diet is the miracle diet, isn’t it? The problem is that it becomes so overwhelming that many give up and go back to their old eating habits. Habits are hard to break; slow and steady always wins the race to optimal health and well-being.

Your body wasn’t built in a day and it will take time to make those healthy changes for the better. Here are my do’s and don’ts when eating clean:


  • Replace your meals with high-calorie smoothies and juices. While smoothies are “healthy,” digestion begins in the mouth by chewing our food. When we “drink” our meals, we bypass this important phase of digestion. This can confuse our systems, causing more hunger quickly. This is a big no-no for those who have gut health issues.
  • Fall for convenience. Avoid foods that can sit on the shelves longer than a week. Food in a box is laden with toxic chemicals and preservatives that disrupt our hormonal systems and suppresses our natural immunity.
  • Fall for marketing claims on diet foods. The more these companies spend on their marketing, the less they invest in the quality of their products, which equals unhealthy foods. Diet foods have twice as much chemicals to trick your brain’s chemistry into eating more.
  • Eat fats such as margarine, soybean, canola or other vegetable oils as they do contribute to heart disease and certain cancers. They also zap our energy and increase our hunger. These fats are typically found in all fast foods and processed foods.
  • Eat every time you feel hungry. Drink a glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon to see if you are really hungry or just thirsty. Our bodies are so dehydrated. In fact, I challenge you to drink one cup of lemon water before each meal. Studies show you will actually eat less and feel fuller.


Shop the perimeter of the stores. The best diet for all is to eat more nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. Did you know instead of eating one Snickers bar,  I can eat ½ grapefruit, 1 nectarine, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1 kiwi fruit, 1 apricot, ½ cup blueberries and three cherries. Whoa, that is a lot of fruit, but I would rather eat all of that than a bar that is not going to benefit my body in the long run.

  • Eat good fats such as olive oil for drizzling, coconut oil, sunflower oil, grass-fed butter with each meal. Good fats keep our bodies satisfied and fuller. Polyunsaturated fats get absorbed into the small intestine where they deliver healing nutrients and nourish the nervous system and our brains. Saturated fats go straight into the fat tissue and the inner lining of the arteries.
  • Eat good quality gluten-free carbs. Yes, I am a fan of the gluten-free diet as we forget there are so many high-quality grains with more nutrients than wheat itself. Teff, sorghum, quinoa, millet and amaranth all have various nutrients we are missing from wheat in general. I challenge you to try a new one once a week.
  • Put time into your food plan every week. Scheduling it makes it easy for you so you are not scrambling trying to throw something together at the last minute.
  • Enjoy eating meats and other non-meat proteins. Aim to eat 4 to 8 ounces of meat per day no more than 5 servings per week. We do not have to eat meat daily as there are other great proteins to fuel our bodies. Just one cup of lentils equals 17g of protein and it is high in fiber, which is something meat lacks.

We all can get lured into the convenience factor. Taking care of ourselves and our families does require commitment and time. Plan each week and prepare your snacks and meals ahead of time. In no time, your planning will become a good habit that will be hard to break.

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