penny barnshaw garage fitness girl

What Should I Eat? 7 Healthy Food Tips


I should start by making it clear that food is not ‘my thing’. By that, I mean I am not a dietitian. Nor am I a calorie counter, a paleo-peep, a low-carber, a keto-lover, or anything else for that matter.

But I do get asked about food a lot, and it’s not unusual for a few people to reach out to me each month and say (in one way or another), “I love your workouts, but what should I eat? Do you have any advice?”

Well, this is that advice, and I hope you find it useful.

I have never been a fan of diets. I’m lucky that I grew up in a family where we always had good, nutritious food to eat. There were some ‘not-so-good’ things to eat, too, from time to time. Enough that they weren’t really considered a big deal.

Throughout my adult years, I’ve kept the same eating patterns I had handed down to me as a child. For me, that means eating mostly ‘real’ foods – the stuff you find in nature, like meat, veggies and fruit – and occasionally eating the ‘not-so-real’ foods (I’m reluctant to label them as ‘bad’).

Rather than dieting, I’m a fan of reducing the sugary stuff. That said, I’m quite partial to some chocolate bullets (drools a little), but I’m more likely to have a handful every now and again, rather than the whole bag. And I definitely don’t feel guilty about it!

I try to live by the 80/20 rule, and I eat real food most of the time. I don’t suggest that this is right for everyone, but it works for me.

Here are my 7 quick tips (for those who want them).

#1 Find Your ‘Go To’ Recipes

Find a healthy recipe book or two, and make it your job to find some ‘go to’ recipes you love. Make sure you tab a few of your favourites for easy access. Feel free to check out my Essential Reading list for some of my favourite recipe books (The CSIRO Total Well Being Plan is one of my all-time favourites).

What Should I Eat? 7 Healthy Food Tips 1 Garage Fitness Girl

#2 Cook Extra

When you do cook something delicious and healthy, cook some extra so that you’ve got tomorrow’s lunch and/or dinner sorted. Why not make your life easier if you can?

#3 Change Your Thinking

If you’re trying to cut down on sweets, change your language from “I can’t have that” to “I can eat whatever I want, and I choose not to have that today.”

#4 Choose Your Quantity

When you do choose to indulge in something that’s not-so-good for you, choose your quantity before you start eating (I will usually put a handful of chocolate bullets in a little bowl, but I don’t do this every day).

#5 Ditch the Guilt

While you’re eating anything not-so-good, enjoy it and refuse to feel guilty about it.

#6 Never Miss Twice

If you fall off the wagon and start accidentally following the 20/80 rule instead of the 80/20 rule, dust yourself off and get back on track ASAP. It’s not the one bad day that matters so much, it’s when we allow that day to turn into weeks, or months. I like this quote by James Clear, which is simply, “Never miss twice”. (Side note: James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is also on my Essential Reading List)

#7 Move More

I honestly believe that when you move more, you’re more likely to eat better. Mainly because exercise gives you more energy, and when you’re high on energy you tend to make better food choices (don’t you think?). If you’re looking for ideas, you’ll find plenty of awesome workouts over at my Youtube channel 💪.

Finally, I’d like to point out that I don’t think any of the eating plans I mentioned at the start of this post (paleo, low carb, counting calories etc) are no good. I think they can be excellent, and I know many people who’ve had good results by strictly following one of them.

But being super strict about food isn’t for me. I have some low carb recipes I cook regularly, but I also have some pasta dishes I like. My way isn’t the right way, it’s just one of the ways. Every single person is different.

When it comes to food, please start from the place that feels right for you. Keep your internal dialogue healthy, keep active, and keep going.

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