What should you eat?

What should you eat?

Scary question alert!

Do you feel so overwhelmed by this question, that some days you just say “screw it” and refuse to deal with it?

Or, is it something you want to ask, but don’t know where to begin?

Or would you love to have a concrete plan for your eating, but are afraid of all the labels, stigma, and misinformation?

Emotional eating and unwanted food cravings can definitely get in the way, but I’m here to tell you that knowing what to eat is not magic, rocket-science, or something that’s worked out by ‘experts’. You can do it, achieve your goals, and live a happy, tasty, life.

Are you confused about what to eat for your health or goals? Try template eating - a way to empower your health and your diet.

What should you eat?

This question has a crazy simple answer. Eat real meat/protein, healthy fats, more vegetables, less sugar.


But, I know you want more than that. You want a plan.

Prefer to watch/listen instead of reead? Check out the video version of this workshop by clicking here.

Download your free worksheets here and read on to make a plan for success.

Are you confused about what to eat for your health or goals? Try template eating - a way to empower your health and your diet.

Step 1:

The first question to ask is: What do I want to eat?

Not the cravings, or guilt, or whatever, but what does your body, heart, and soul want to eat? What foods feel truly nourishing to you? What foods make you feel

  • energized
  • hopeful
  • nourished
  • filled up

Take notice of these. I can guarantee they will generally be low/no processed kinds of food.

These foods should make up the core of your eating.

Use them as the basis for creating your own eating plan.

Step 2:

Your second question is: What do I want my eating to do for me?

What are your goals with your eating? There are really four kinds of things you can do with your diet:

1)        Maintain – You eat to maintain the health and weight that you have. You are happy where you are and want to remain at your current level of health, fitness, and stability. 

2)        Therapy – There is something you want to improve or work on. It could be weight, mood issues, fatigue, muscle gain, pain, emotional instability… anything. You want to eat in a way that promotes positive change. 

3)        Experiment – You want to try something and see what happens. How would you feel if you were eating a vegetable based diet? A low-carb diet? Dairy-free? Drank more water? 

4)      Optimize – You want to eat in a way that promotes excellent performance. This could be at the gym, mentally at work, for pregnancy. You already have a great base and want to go the extra mile to optimize one area. 

So your job is to work out your goal, or what you’d like to do with your eating.

Step 3:

Now: research time – what ‘diets’ are other people with your same goal doing? What does the research suggest? Have a look and pick a plan that sounds good to you.

And then add the secret, magic, awesome-sauce: change the base plan.

You’re going to add in the foods you brainstormed in step 1 and remove anything that sounds like it won’t work for you.

For example, imagine you do some research and decide that a plant-based diet sounds wonderful. Lots of people are reporting results exactly like that you’re trying to achieve (step 2). But, you’ve found you love a good steak once a week and onions and garlic give you gas.

That’s perfect. You do not have to follow a vegetarian diet. You can eat your steak, skip the onions and garlic, and follow a plant-based plan the rest of the time.

Unless you’ve been given an eating plan by a doctor or nutritionist for medical reasons, the is no need to follow anyone’s diet plan perfectly. Your body, your food, your rules.

Template eating

This is what I call ‘template eating’. You pick a protocol (paleo, vegan, Atkins, Weight Watchers, whatever) and then you tweak it by adding or removing foods, or adapting the ‘rules’ until you have what you want.

Why not just follow the ‘diet’?

A static diet can not possibly ever fit you for every moment of your life, as emotions, environment, hormones, beliefs, and biology change in and around you. You are the one who has to take responsibility and listen and adapt to this.

This is awesome! You can use established ‘diets’ as a guide or suggestion and use them to empower your eating, have fun, experiment, and ultimately find lasting success. You find out what foods work for you.

A word on labeling:

Many of the labeled diets become a bit like a religion. Sure, it’s great to be a part of a community and have support and belonging, but when we start judging others for their level of devoutness or refuse to accept that other ideas may be right (at least for that person), we’ve gone too far.

With template eating, you can join the community of the template you are following, but you don’t have to lock yourself in the box with that label.

As an emotional eater, you’ll likely find yourself using labels to either restrict yourself or rebel against. Neither one is helpful.

Practical stuff:

So that was the ‘why’ of template eating. Now, how can you actually do it?

How to do it:

  • Brainstorm your nourishing foods 
  • Decide on a goal 
  • Research diets – find one that appeals 
  • Try it in its base form for 2-3 weeks 
  • Assess – what are you feeling? Craving? Missing? Improving? Developing? 
  • Modify – start to change the plan to include more of your nourishing foods and use the knowledge you’re gaining to make changes as you go. 

What about ‘junk food’?

If you’re template eating and not following rigid rules, does that mean ANY food is ok to eat?

I say yes, with a few important qualifications. The first one is honesty. Honesty with yourself.  If you can truly say that the junk food that you love makes you feel great and that you don’t have an unhealthy relationship or reliance on it, then I say ‘yes, eat it’.

I am like this with ice cream and popcorn.

I can remove both from my diet, add them back in, and the only thing I can observe is enjoyment (as long as I don’t over-do it). Cake, however, is a different story.

I love cake! I can easily remove cake from my diet, but when I add it back in I get bloating, headaches, and sometimes even dizziness. So, if I’m honest with myself, I know I shouldn’t eat cake much at all – so I don’t.

If your life is truly better with a food, keep it.

It’s not easy, but it works

Template eating isn’t easy. It’s an incredibly powerful approach, but it does demand that you make your health and body a priority and take responsibility for your own wellbeing.

You’re responsible for finding what works for you. This is empowering, but it is also scary – most people have the habit of leaving their health up to ‘experts’.

That hasn’t been working, so it’s time to get in there, work hard, and become the expert on you.

If you’re looking for more than just ‘what to eat’

If you feel like your eating is out of control and something you struggle with ALL the time, and like you’re using food to fill yourself up emotionally, you’ll need more than an eating plan.

You need a plan to help you fill yourself up in ways that aren’t food.

Check out the 7-day Emotional Eating Plan. You’ll get the tools, information, and resources you need to finally stop letting food control your life.

It’s highly actionable, totally empowering, and best of all – not about rigid diet rules or being ‘right’. It 100% works with the free worksheets in this blog post.

The 7-day plan is a 20+ page workbook (including actionable info) to help you plan a 7-day emotional eating intervention for yourself. You’ll learn why you overeat, how to stop, and what you can do instead.

Click here to find out more about the 7-day Emotional Eating Plan workbook

About Samantha

Hello! I'm Sam and I'm an Eating Psychology Coach. I work with women who struggle with emotional eating and weight loss to develop new strategies and lifestyles so they can stop using food to cope, lose weight, and eat happy.

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14 thoughts on “What should you eat?

  • Rachel G

    I think it’s very important to stay aware of how your body reacts to food. Our diet is largely influenced by the foods available where we live–which is why even though I love bread and sometimes daydream about homemade biscuit and delicious bakery bread, we go months without eating any bread–because I don’t have an oven for homemade, and nearly all bread in China is sweet, and just doesn’t give me the same enjoyment it does in my imagination–plus, bread isn’t the healthiest, so it’s no big loss to avoid it.

    • Samantha Post author

      I am totally with you on the bread, Rachel. It’s the same here in Korea – all the bakery bread is quite sweet and not at all the kind you get when you do home made. I think it’s great that you’re listening to yourself and doing what feels right for you.

  • Crystal Bissonnette

    I really liked this one! I like to call the way I eat, not a diet, but: a way of life. It was a diet in the beginning then I found out how to eat the best way for myself. I clean eat 80 % of the time and 20 % of that is the chocolate, drinks and other things I try to keep out. I live a healthy lifestyle and the balance for me works!

    • Samantha Post author

      So true, Crystal! The ‘diet’ mentality can be so loaded with other meanings than just ‘what I eat’. It sounds like you’ve really worked to find a balance that’s right for you – that’s awesome!!

  • shabnamahsan

    Taking healthy diet doesn’t mean we can’t eat our favourite food. Moderation is the key. If we eat ice-cream, we can increase our physical activity or exercise longer to burn the extra calories. Depriving ourself of our favourite food is not a good thing, It often become a cause of failure in dieting.

    • Samantha Post author

      Yes, that’s true – deprivation is definitely not a good strategy! Who wants to go their whole life thinking they can’t eat something they love? Unless it’s a serious medical condition. However, I’d suggest being a bit careful about the idea that you can exercise to burn off excess calories – the body doesn’t always work quite like that.

  • Karen

    Great post, Samantha, and you bring out a very good point about labeling. We aren’t all cut from the same mold, so why would we think we could all eat the exact same way? That is one of my concerns with fad diets/eating plans.
    Reasonable habits and choices make so much more sense. I’ve noticed in my diet that there are certain foods/cooking styles that I have trouble with, so I try to avoid them (unless it is a situation in which I want to be gracious to whomever is cooking for me).
    I wish there were more advice out there like this. Nobody needs to feel condemned for eating in a way that best serves their individual body. I’m sharing!

    • Samantha Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Karen, I think you’re right – we are all different and should do what is right for us, even if that is radically different from the person next to us, and not judge each other for these choices.
      Thank you for sharing!

  • Kelly

    This is such a clear and simple way of creating an eating plan for yourself. It took us so long to realize my husband and son were lactose intolerant, and they’ve both felt so much better now that we switched our milk products. Likewise with my son and some veggies – he just can’t eat broccoli, which is a bummer because it’s his favorite vegetable. But now that he’s seen the difference, he’s much happier without the pain and bloating.

  • karabayleaves

    So much wonderful information here, Samantha! I have to admit I am not always great about listening to my body. Sometimes I even know how I am going to feel afterwards if I eat something that isn’t great for me and I go ahead and do it anyway, then suffer the consequences. And it wasn’t worth the brief enjoyment. I really want to work on not doing that to myself. Why shouldn’t I want to feel great? Excellent post!

    • Samantha Post author

      Thank you, Kara. I know what you mean – it has taken me years to finally reach a place where I can mostly make the right decisions – it is definitely a long learning process. But you’re totally right! You should want to feel great all the time 🙂

  • Marjie @ Home Again Jiggety-jig!

    After many many years, I’ve learned how I must eat (for myself) in order to stay well and healthy and maintain or lose weight. For me it is a low carb life style, with a few very healthy carbs like brown rice and quinoa. I eat a lot of healthy enjoyable food, and stay well. When I step out of the way and eat any of the “white” carbs again, they will immediately give me acid reflux and make me feel poorly.

    • Samantha Post author

      That’s awesome that you’ve been able to learn that about yourself, Marjie! My mum is very similar to you, she found removing ‘white’ type carbs to be great for her health, weight, and reflux. I hope your success continues!

  • susiefruitcake

    So nice to see you including the low-FODMAP diet here. That’s my template and it works so well for me. I’ve had problems with IBS most of my adult life and that particular way of eating has worked wonders. I could see the benefit after just a couple of days (which really surprised me) but it took a little longer to get things right. Great blog. I really hope it gets people thinking about how they might change their diet, and their health, for the better.